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U.S. Women to Face Japan on June 6 in Louisville

CHICAGO (Monday, April 19, 2004) — U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will play Japan on June 6 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., in a match broadcast live on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET.  The match, hosted locally by Game Seven Sports Marketing and the University of Louisville, will be one of six domestic exhibitions that the U.S. women will play before departing for Greece and the 2004 Athens Olympics in early August.

Four of those six matches have been confirmed, beginning with the April 24 meeting with Brazil in Birmingham, Alabama (12 Noon CT on ESPN2).  The USA will also face Mexico on May 9 in New Mexico (1 p.m. MT on ESPN2) and will meet Australia at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., on July 21 (6 p.m. CT on ESPN2).

Advance tickets for USA-Japan range in price levels from $18 to $45 and go on sale starting Wednesday (April 21) at 10 a.m. ET at all area Ticketmaster outlets (including Kroger’s stores), as well as the University of Louisville athletic ticket office in the Student Activities Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets can also be ordered by phone at 502-361-3100 (Louisville) or 859-281-6644 (Lexington) and online at  Groups of 20 or more can order discounted tickets by calling 502-852-5863 [Click here for complete ticket information].

The match will mark the fourth trip to the University of Louisville and Papa John’s Stadium for the U.S. women, who first played there in October of 1999 after the glorious Women’s World Cup triumph and drew more than 35,000 fans to the 4-2 win over Brazil.  The USA played at Papa John’s twice in 2000 at the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, defeating Costa Rica, 8-0, and Canada, 4-1.

The U.S. women will be looking for a little bit of redemption against Japan, which has tied the USA in two straight matches after losing the first 13 meetings between these two teams.  The USA and Japan last met in the first match of 2003 for the USA, a 0-0 tie in San Diego.

“They are a very technically gifted team,” said U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix.  “They are super quick and their transition from defense to offense is something we have to be very aware of.  We have to be very organized all over the field in order to keep their personality players from striking quickly.”

Japan will be trying to earn its berth to Athens later this month when it hosts the Asian Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Tokyo and Hiroshima.  Japan will be a favorite to earn one of Asia’s two berths, but faces stiff competition from China and reigning Asian champs North Korea.  Japan participated in the first Olympic Women’s Soccer Tournament in Atlanta in 1996, but did not qualify for the Sydney 2000 games.

Japan was one of the most attractive teams at the 2003 Women’s World Cup, and opened the tournament with a resounding 6-0 victory over Argentina, but then lost to Germany, 3-0, and Canada, 3-1, to go out in the first round.  Japan was up 1-0 against Canada and a tie would have sent them to the quarterfinals.

Japan features one of the world’s best midfielders in former Atlanta Beat star Homare Sawa.  The crafty Japanese captain is the leading scorer in the history of her country and was recently selected to play with the FIFA World Stars against Germany in Paris on May 20 as part of FIFA’s Centennial Celebrations.

“Kentucky is the only state below the Mason-Dixon line that I’ve never been to,” said Birmingham, Alabama native and U.S. defender Cat Reddick.  “I heard the stadium is awesome and anytime we can play in the South I’m happy.”