CHICAGO (Thursday, May 23, 2002) - The U.S. Women's National Team will face long-time rival Norway on July 21 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., in a match to be televised live on ESPN at 12 p.m. CT (1 p.m. ET). Tickets will go on sale this Saturday night (May 25) at the Minnesota Thunderâ€™s A-League home opener against the Indiana Blast at the NSC. Tickets will also be available starting Sunday (May 26) at 10 a.m. CT at all TicketMaster outlets, charging by phone at 651-989-5151. For group tickets of 10 or more people, fans can call the Minnesota Thunder at 763-785-3668. Complete ticket information is available online at www.ussoccer.com.
The USA played in Blaine last summer, defeating Canada 1-0 in front the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game at the National Sports Center when 15,614 fans showed up to cheer on the U.S. women. The NSC holds 10,000 fans but additional seats can be added to accommodate an overflow.
The U.S. women will be looking to break a frustrating four-game losing streak to the Norwegians, a streak which has seen the USA play equal to or better than Norway over the four matches, dating back to the 2000 Olympic gold medal game in Sydney, Australia, a crushing 3-2 sudden death overtime loss. In the next meeting, a young U.S. team fell 4-3 to Norway at the 2001 Algarve Cup in Portugal. The USA has also lost to Norway twice this year, 1-0 at the Four Nations Tournament in China in January and 3-2 at the 2002 Algarve Cup. Norway remains the only team in the world with an all-time winning record against the U.S. women, who are 13-18-2 vs. the Scandinavians. The match marks just the third domestic game of 2002 for the U.S. women, who defeated Mexico, 7-0, in Charleston, S.C. on January 12 and downed Finland, 3-0, in San Jose, Calif. on April 27.
â€œWe have the defending Womenâ€™s World Cup champions against the defending Olympic champions and soccer fans couldnâ€™t ask for a better match,â€ said Jim Froslid, General Manager of the A-Leagueâ€™s Thunder, the local organizing committee for the match. â€œThe local community was tremendous in their support of the U.S. team last summer and I know our large Scandinavian population will embrace Norway as well. The match is taking place on the heels of USA Cup, the largest youth tournament in the world, and we are expecting an extremely festive atmosphere for the game.â€
The USA-Norway game will be an important one for U.S. head coach April Heinrichs as she continues the process of selecting the team that will attempt to qualify for the 2003 Womenâ€™s World Cup in China. The USAâ€™s qualification tournament will be the CONCACAF Womenâ€™s Gold Cup, being held from Oct. 27-Nov. 9, 2002, at four west coast venues. Norway has already qualified for China, running away with European Group 1 by piling up 16 points from its six matches over France, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.
â€œThe Norway game will show fans and media why we donâ€™t really subscribe to the notion that these type of matches are â€˜friendliesâ€™,â€ said Heinrichs. â€œPeople are going to see the two best teams in the world going at it. Norway continues to pose problems for us offensively and defensively and they are our equals psychologically. We are a little over a year away from the World Cup and this game gives us a chance to look at the best players from the WUSA and our under-21 and under-19 programs.â€œ
Blaine played a special part in U.S. womenâ€™s national team history as the programâ€™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 8-3-0 at the Blaine National Sports Center. The U.S. women also played in the 1997 U.S. Soccer Festival in Blaine.