A TEAM OF THEIR OWN: U.S. WNT PIONEERS LOOK BACK
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first-ever match in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, in conjunction with ussoccer.com, brings you a comprehensive look back at the start of the historic program.
Aug. 18, 1985 -- The U.S. Women's National Team just prior to facing Italy in the program's first-ever match.
More on the first-ever U.S. WNT match: First Goal | OOOSA!
In the summer of 1985, about 70 women’s soccer players convened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Olympic Sports Festival. It would be the first time women’s soccer was included in the event. Unbeknownst to most of the players, they were heading for a genesis, a moment that would literally start the ball rolling towards the creation of a special group that would grow into the world’s greatest women’s soccer team, and eventually spawn the greatest women’s sporting event in history -- the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
Few of the players knew when they arrived in the Bayou that a team would be chosen from that competition…the first U.S. Women’s National Team. A “paper team” had been picked in 1982, 1983 and 1984, but those squads never got together or played a match. This time it would be different. Then head coach Mike Ryan selected a squad that trained at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University for several days before heading to Europe for a four-team tournament in Italy, dubbed the Mundialito or “Little World Cup.” All the players would get $10 a day and a free pair of shoes. In those days, it was a bonanza.
On Aug. 18, 1985, the U.S. Women’s National Team played its first-ever match, facing host Italy in Jesolo. Some details of the 1-0 loss are lost in time (although it seems that the USA played in a 4-4-2 formation, Michelle Akers did not play due to an ankle injury and the crowd was at least 4,000, if not more), but the significance of the match lives on. To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the historic game, ussoccer.com tracked down 10 of the 12 players who were on the field at the very beginning, bringing back the voices of the past to relive a vital part of soccer history. Earlier this year, Center Circle also took a look back at the first U.S. WNT game from the perspective of Mike Ryan, the first coach of the U.S.
DENISE BENDER: Reflections
DENISE BOYER (now Merdich): Reflections
STACEY ENOS: Reflections
LINDA GANCITANO: Reflections
CINDY GORDON: Reflections
TUCKA HEALY: Reflections
LORI HENRY: Reflections
SHARON McMURTRY: Reflections
ANN ORRISON (now GERMAIN): Reflections
KIM WYANT: Reflections
The complete history of the game can be found at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.