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U.S. to Face Costa Rica for Berth in 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup


SEATTLE, Wash. (Tuesday, November 5, 2002) - The U.S. Women's National Team will face Costa Rica on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup semifinal for a berth in the 2003 Women's World Cup in China, being held Sept. 24-Oct. 11, 2003 in five Chinese cities.  The USA won Group 1 in the Women's Gold Cup with wins over Mexico (3-0), Trinidad & Tobago (3-0) and Panama (9-0) and will face Costa Rica, the second place finisher in Group 2 (behind Canada), on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash. Canada will face Mexico in the other semifinal at 9:30 p.m. at Safeco.

The two semifinal winners will earn this region's two automatic berths to China '03, and will face each other for the CONCACAF title on Nov. 9 at the Rose Bowl at 7 p.m. PT, while the losers will play each other in the third place match at 4:30 p.m. PT.  The winner of the third place match will earn the right to play the third place finisher from the Asian Football Confederation in a two-game home-and-home series for a spot in China.  All of the Women's Gold Cup matches are being broadcast live on Fox Sports World, while all the U.S. matches will also be featured live on ussoccer.com's
MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. 

U.S. WILL TRAIN ONCE MORE IN SEATTLE: The U.S. team had Sunday off, which the players filled with equal parts shopping, eating and just plain relaxing.  Eight players took in the Seattle SuperSonics vs. Utah Jazz game at the Key Arena, and were recognized on the court between the third and fourth quarters to a standing ovation from the crowd of 13,000.  The U.S. players threw (and kicked) t-shirts into the crowd and invited everyone in attendance to the semifinal on Wednesday.  The USA trained on a crisp but beautiful Monday morning at Seattle University in front of an excited crowd of several hundred spectators, who got autographs and took pictures with the U.S. players after training.  The U.S. team was treated to a surprise post-practice snack, as the proprietors of Nellie's Soul Food, which sits directly across the street from the Seattle University soccer field, brought over two huge plates of fried chicken for the U.S. team and staff.  The USA will train once more in Seattle, tomorrow afternoon at the spectacular Safeco Field, before taking on Costa Rica on Wednesday night. The monster retractable roof at Safeco was closed during the USA's match against Panama, as temperatures plunged into the high 30s, and will likely remain closed for the semifinal matches as a low of 44-degrees and showers are forecast.

SHORT HISTORY WITH COSTA RICA: The USA has played Costa Rica just once before, that coming at the 2000 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup on June 25, 2000, during group play.  The Americans won 8-0, but of all the players on the current U.S. Women's Gold Cup roster, only Shannon MacMillan scored in that match.  Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy and Tiffeny Milbrett did not play in that game.  That match against Costa Rica in 2000 was the first ever for the U.S. women against a Central American country.  The match last Saturday against Panama was the second. Costa Rica earned its berth in the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Jamaica and a 5-0 victory over Haiti, before falling to Canada 3-0 in its last Group 2 match.  Megan Chavez leads Costa Rica in scoring with four goals, including both in the 2-0 win over the Jamaica.  Shirley Cruz has two goals and Xiomara Briceno has the other Costa Rican goal.

MILBRETT NEARS CENTURY MARK IN INTERNATIONAL GOALS: Heading into the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup semifinals, Canadian striker Christine Sinclair leads the tournament in scoring with seven goals. Sinclair, a sophomore at the University of Portland, who was also the top scorer at the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup with 10 goals, is just one ahead of teammate Charmaine Hooper, the all-time leading scorer in Canadian history, and the USA's Tiffeny Milbrett.  Milbrett, who after her record-tying five-goal outburst against Panama now has 94 career goals, is just six away from becoming the fifth person in the history of international soccer to score 100 goals for her country.  Milbrett trails only Mia Hamm (135), a pair of long-retired Italians in Elisabetta Vignotto (107) and Carolina Morace (105) and Michelle Akers (104).

WAGNER DOES DOUBLE DUTY: U.S. midfielder Aly Wagner had a busy weekend in the Northwest, representing college and country.  She played 45 minutes against Panama in Seattle on Saturday night, picking up three assists, all to Tiffeny Milbrett in the USA's 9-0 win.  After the match, she was driven down to Portland, where her Santa Clara University college team defeated the University of Portland, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon in a huge West Coast Conference match.  Wagner played 90 minutes against the Pilots, then after dinner in Portland, she was driven back to Seattle on Sunday night.  She was deservedly given Monday off from training.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: 
U.S. defender Brandi Chastain about facing Costa Rica for a berth in the 2003 Women's World Cup:
"This is probably the biggest game in Costa Rican women's soccer history.  They have an opportunity to make a great statement for all women's athletics in their country and have a chance to do something no Costa Rican women's team has ever done, and that's qualify for a Women's World Cup.  They are shaping the future of women's soccer in their country and that future is on Wednesday night. They will come with great emotion and we have to be prepared for that."

STAT OF NOTE: The U.S. Women's National Team has scored 100 goals over 12 matches in three Women's World Cup qualifying tournaments, an average of 8.3 goals a game. Abby Wambach scored the 100th goal with the USA's final tally against Panama last Saturday.  Of those 100 goals, players on the current U.S. roster have scored 50: Mia Hamm (11), Brandi Chastain (8), Kristine Lilly (7), Tiffeny Milbrett (7), Tiffany Roberts (4), Julie Foudy (3), Joy Fawcett (3), Shannon MacMillan (3), Cindy Parlow (2), Aly Wagner (1), Abby Wambach (1).

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