CHICAGO (Thursday, April 29, 2004) — U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will play its final match before traveling to Greece for the 2004 Olympics against long-time rival China on Sunday, August 1, at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn.
The match will kick off at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 as fans in the Northeast and throughout the country will get a last look at the 2004 U.S. Women’s Soccer Olympic Team before it enters Olympic competition approximately 10 days later.
Advance tickets for USA-China, a rematch of the 1996 Olympic gold medal game and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, range in price levels from $18 to $50 and go on sale starting Saturday, May 1 at 10 a.m. ET at all area Ticketmaster outlets (including Filene’s Stores), by phone at 860-525-4500 (Hartford) or 203-624-0033 (all areas), and online at ussoccer.com. A limited number of special “Best Seat in the House” on-field seats are available for $150 and promise a once-in-a-lifetime up-close look at the action just a few feet from the playing field. Groups of 20 or more can order discount tickets through U.S. Soccer by calling 312-528-1290 [Click here for complete ticket information].
The match at the $91 million Rentschler Field, which opened in 2003, marks the first match in Connecticut for the U.S. women in seven years since the USA beat Canada, 4-0, in New Britain, Conn., in 1997.
It will also mark the return of Connecticut legend Kristine Lilly to her home state. Lilly, who hails from Wilton, Conn., which features a sign at the entrance of the town that states, “Welcome to Wilton – Home of Kristine Lilly, Olympic gold medallist,” is the world’s all-time leader in international appearances for men and women. She currently sits at an amazing 271 games played for the United States.
“I can’t remember the last time I got to play with the national team in Connecticut, so I’m pretty excited,” said Lilly, who has scored 95 international goals and could be nearing her historic 100th goal by the time the USA gets to Hartford. “The people of Connecticut have always been very supportive of my career and the Women’s National Team, so I think it’s a nice reward to play our last match before the Olympics there. The fans in Connecticut are great supporters of women’s sports and I know they will give us a great send-off to Greece.”
China recently earned its berth to Athens at the Asian Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Japan, defeating South Korea in the semifinal, and then defeated Japan in the championship game, 1-0, to win the title. China has participated in both of the Olympic women's soccer tournaments that have been contested, losing to the USA in the gold medal game in 1996, but shockingly failing to get out of the first round in Australia in 2000.
The USA has played China more times than any team except Norway and Canada, and holds a 13-8-10 all-time record against the Chinese. The most recent meeting was a 0-0 draw at the Four Nations Tournament in Shenzhen, China last January. The USA will not know its Olympic opponents or venues until June 9, 2004, when the Olympic Draw is held.
China is in the middle of a youth movement, as most of their long-time veteran players have retired, but there seems to be little drop-off in the level of play, as witnessed by China’s 1-0 victory over Women’s World Cup champion Germany in Germany last March and the reclaiming of the Asian crown at Olympic qualifying that they had lost to North Korea in the last two Asian championships. In the last 10 matches between the USA and China, the Americans are 2-3-5, showing just how even the series is between two countries that play attractive, fast-paced attacking soccer.
“We could not have a better game before we leave for the Olympics,” said Lilly. “We have great respect for China and how they play, and they test our limits every time we play. It will be a great judge of how ready we are for the Olympics and what we have to fine tune. I know it will be a great match for the fans as well.”
The match will mark the last in a series of six domestic games the U.S. women will play leading up to the Olympics. In its first home match, U.S. rolled by world power Brazil 5-1 on April 24 in Birmingham, Ala., behind a pair of goals from young star forward Abby Wambach and a goal and three assists from legendary forward Mia Hamm. The U.S. also has matches scheduled for May 9 vs. Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., June 6 vs. Japan in Louisville, Ky., July 3 vs. Canada in Nashville, Tenn., and July 21 vs. Australia in Blaine, Minn.