U.S. Women Return to the Field for Independence Day Series; Will Face Canada on July 3 in Blaine, Minnesota
The match is part of a two-game Independence Day Series that will feature home-and-home matches between the long time-confederation rivals. The USA will play Canada in Toronto at Varsity Stadium on June 30 before traveling to Minnesota. The match in Canada will be preceded by a game featuring the Under-19 Women's National Teams of the USA and Canada, both of whom are preparing for the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championships which will be staged in Canada in 2002. The match in Canada comes the day before Canada Day, which celebrates the events that occurred on July 1, 1867, when the British North America Act created the Canadian federal government. The match in Blaine comes one day before the USA's Independence Day.
"It's been a long time since Minnesotans have had an opportunity to see the U.S. women play in person," said Jim Froslid, General Manager of the A-League Minnesota Thunder, the local organizing committee for the match. "I know the soccer community will rally around this event, especially after what these players accomplished in reshaping America's views on women's sports during the last two years."
The U.S. women have not played a domestic game since December 17, 2000, when they tied Japan, 1-1, in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the USA and Canada have played each other 26 times, the Independence Day Series carries some added spark as USA has failed to beat Canada in the last three meetings, including losses in the last two games, after having reeled off 21 consecutive wins from 1986-2000. The all-time record stands at 22-3-1 for the Americans.
The U.S. roster is expected to be a mix of 2000 Olympic veterans, up-and-coming WUSA stars and some of the brightest young talent in the women's national team program. This will be the first domestic match for the U.S. women in the WUSA era as for the first time players will be coming together from their professional clubs to play for their country.
With the formation of the Women's United Soccer Association and a reduced international schedule on tap for the U.S. women in 2001, each national team game carries an added significance as U.S. head coach April Heinrichs begins preparations for 2003 Women's World Cup qualifying.
"I'm looking forward to coming to Blaine," said Heinrichs. "It will be the first time the full women's national team will be together with the players competing for the spots on the 2003 Women's World Cup roster. Our history started in Blaine and after the boom of the last 5 years, it only seems appropriate that we go back to the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' and a tremendous soccer facility."
Blaine, Minnesota, holds a special place in U.S. women's national team history as the program's first 10 domestic matches were played there. In fact, from 1985-1990, the U.S. women never played a domestic match outside of Minnesota until facing Norway on Aug. 30, 1991 in New Britain, Conn. The USA has a record of 7-3-0 at the Blaine National Sports Center. The U.S. women also played in the 1997 U.S. Soccer Festival in Blaine. Heinrichs too may have a warm spot for Blaine, having played in all 10 matches there and scoring nine goals, including three two-goal games.
The clash in Blaine will be a rematch of the first meeting between the teams on July 7, 1986, in the USA's first-ever domestic game. Carolina Courage head coach Marcia McDermott scored along with Joan Dunlap as the USA recorded a 2-0 win. Two days later, Canada won the second of the three-game series, 2-0, but would not defeat the USA again for 14 years as the Americans started their 21-game winning streak over Canada in the final match of the series with a 3-0 victory as Heinrichs scored twice.