Both Matches Televised Live on ESPN2;
USA vs. Australia From Titan Stadium at 3 p.m. PT
and USA vs. Mexico from Blackbaud Stadium at 1 p.m. ET
CHICAGO (Sept. 12, 2005) -- The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will face 2004 Olympic foe Australia and CONCACAF success story Mexico in a pair of October matches as the team continues on the long road to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA will take on Australia on Sunday, Oct. 16, at Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton (kickoff at 3 p.m. PT live on ESPN2) and then travel to Charleston, S.C., to face regional rival Mexico on Sunday, Oct. 23, at Blackbaud Stadium (kickoff at 1 p.m. ET live on ESPN2). These will be the first matches for the U.S. women since a 3-0 victory over Iceland on July 24 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The U.S. women are undefeated under new head coach Greg Ryan, going 7-0-0 in 2005 and have yet to surrender a goal this year. The USA’s eight-game streak of shutouts stretches back to the final game of 2004, a 5-0 win over Mexico at the HDC, and now stands at 748 total minutes (which includes the final 28 minutes of the previous match against Denmark). Three goalkeepers have shared those minutes, with Briana Scurry, Nicole Barnhart and Hope Solo all seeing time in the U.S. nets during the streak. Solo has five shutouts this year while Barnhart has picked up the other two.
While the U.S. roster will not be announced until early October, it should include many veteran players, including team captain Kristine Lilly, who will be going for her 298th and 299th career caps, and star strikers Abby Wambach and Tiffeny Milbrett, who is currently in Sweden playing out the season with Sunnana SK. In addition, the roster should feature numerous U.S. stalwarts, including midfielder Shannon Boxx, and central defenders Cat Reddick and Kate Markgraf, who have all played major roles in the USA’s streak of shutout soccer. The USA’s leading scorer this year is forward Christie Welsh, who has seven goals, and had scored in every match this year until failing to find the net against Iceland in the USA’s most recent game. Forward Danielle Fotopoulos has put up two straight two-goal games in wins over Ukraine and Iceland.
Tickets for USA-Australia range in price from $15 to $48 and go on sale starting Thursday (September 15) at 10 a.m. PT on-line at ussoccer.com, at all Southern California Ticketmaster outlets (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), and by phone (213-480-3232). Groups of 15 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtain a group order form at ussoccer.com.
Tickets for the USA-Mexico game range in price from $18 to $38 and go on sale starting Thursday (September 15) at 10 a.m. ET on-line at ussoccer.com, at all South Carolina Ticketmaster outlets (including Publix), at the Blackbaud Stadium Box Office (Monday – Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and by phone (843-554-6060). Groups of 15 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtain a group order form at ussoccer.com.
The U.S. Women’s National Team played its first match in 1985, but did not play in the state of California until 11 years later, with that inaugural Golden State game coming at Titan Stadium in 1996, a 6-0 victory over Holland. The USA also played at Titan Stadium in 1998 (an 8-1 win over Argentina) and most recently at the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a hard-fought 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago at the tournament that served as qualifying for the 2003 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. women are undefeated in their 20 games in California, going 18-0-2, with one of those ties being the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, which the USA won famously on penalty kicks.
The USA last faced Australia at the 2004 Olympics in the final group match, a 1-1 tie in Thessaloniki that gave the USA the group title. It was Australia’s first draw with the USA after 15 straight losses. Australia, known as the Matildas in their home country, sit 15th in the most recent FIFA Women’s World Rankings and rarely fail to give the USA a gritty and hard-fought match.
Australia is preparing to embark on the boldest and most difficult challenge in its women’s soccer history as the Matildas change confederations from Oceania to Asia, and will now battle some of the world’s top teams for a spot in the 2007 Women’s World Cup. The 2006 Asian Women’s Championship will serve as WWC qualifying and is slated for July 21-30, 2006, at a venue to be determined.
Australia toured Asia in July in preparation for their World Cup qualifying campaign, playing six matches in 15 days. In their most positive results, the Aussies defeated China, 2-1, with a 93rd minute winning goal from star midfielder Joanne Peters and also managed a 0-0 draw with South Korea.
Australia is led by head coach Tom Sermanni, in his second stint at the helm of the Matildas after coaching them from 1994-97. Sermanni was an assistant coach for the San Jose CyberRays when they won the inaugural WUSA title in 2001 and was head coach of the New York Power in the final season of the WUSA in 2003.
Both of the USA’s previous matches in South Carolina have been played at Blackbaud Stadium. The USA and Mexico previously met at the quaint facility, home of the United Soccer Leagues First Division’s Charleston Battery, with the USA coming out with a rain-drenched 7-0 win at the beginning of 2002. The USA also defeated Iceland there in February of 2003 on a first-minute goal from Mia Hamm.
The USA has played Mexico 11 times since 2000, the year after Mexico made history by qualifying for the 1999 Women’s World Cup to become the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for the biggest tournament in women’s soccer.
The Mexican women shocked the world, and Canada even more, by defeating the Maple Leafs in qualifying for the 2004 Olympics to earn a spot in their second women’s world championship. Mexico even advanced out of group play in Greece, but fell to a powerful Brazilian team in the quarterfinals.
Mexican head coach Leo Cuellar, himself a former Mexican National Team player and captain, has led the Mexican women to unprecedented heights in the last six years, using a quality mix of Mexico-born and U.S.-based players to form a team that has risen to 25th in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, a remarkable feat considering the Mexican Women’s National Team was almost non-existent prior to 1998.
Mexico played its best game ever against the USA in Olympic qualifying in Costa Rica in March of 2004, going up 2-0 early on the Americans before the U.S. team stormed back for a 3-2 victory.
The USA last faced Mexico in the farewell match for legends Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Joy Fawcett, on Dec. 8, 2004, during the 5-0 win that started the shutout streak. Prior to that game, Mexico had played the USA close in the five previous matches, although the USA has won all 15 games between the two teams.
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