CHICAGO (March 22, 2006) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will begin a busy summer and fall of domestic matches with two games in July, facing Sweden on Saturday, July 15, at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., before taking on long-time rival Canada on Sunday, July 30 at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Kickoff for the USA-Sweden match is set for 5 p.m. CT, while the match against Canada will kick off at 1 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and covered online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
“I am excited to play Sweden,” said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan, who has yet to coach a game against the Swedes. “They are one of the best teams in the world and have two of the world's premier strikers in Victoria Svensson and Hanna Ljungberg. This will be a great game in helping us continue to develop our young team.”
Tickets for USA-Sweden will go on sale starting this Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m. CT online at ussoccer.com, at all Minnesota and Wisconsin area Ticketmaster outlets (including Cash Wise Foods, Hy-Vee Foods, and Marshall Field’s) and by phone at 651-989-5151. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by logging onto ussoccer.com or calling (312) 528-1290.
Tickets for USA-Canada will go on sale starting Wednesday, April 12, at 10 a.m. ET online at ussoccer.com, at all Cary area Ticketmaster outlets (including Hechts, FYE, and Publix Stores) and by phone at 919-834-4000. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by logging onto ussoccer.com or calling (312) 528-1290.
“Canada finished fourth in the 2003 Women’s World Cup and have continued to improve the quality of their team since that time,” said Ryan. “The rivalry between the U.S. and Canadian teams makes each team stronger. This match will help both teams prepare for Women's World Cup qualification in November.”
The match in Minnesota marks the 14th time the U.S. women have played in Blaine, Minn., the most U.S. WNT games hosted by any city in the United States. The U.S. women played the first three domestic matches in their history in Blaine back in 1986 and recorded their first-ever win there as well, a 2-0 victory over Canada on July 7, 1986.
The USA played in Blaine seven times in the 1980s and three times in 1990, followed by an 11-year gap until a 1-0 win against Canada in 2001. The USA earned a resounding 4-0 victory over Norway in Blaine in July 2002, a victory that started the USA’s current string of six straight wins over the Norwegians. In its most recent match in Blaine, the USA defeated Australia, 3-1, in the second-to-last game before leaving for the 2004 Olympics.
Sweden, which sits sixth in the most recent FIFA Women’s World Rankings, is currently atop Group 2 in European qualification for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and features numerous world class players in its starting 11. The USA-Sweden match in Blaine puts the USA in the rare position of facing a team that beat them in their previous encounter. Sweden defeated the USA, 3-1, in the final group game at the 2004 Algarve Cup, but the USA still qualified for the championship game. The two teams also met earlier that year, a 3-0 U.S. win at the Four Nations Tournament in China. The USA is 12-3-5 all-time against Sweden.
The match against Canada in North Carolina will mark the 36th meeting between the two teams, the second most of any opponent in U.S. Women’s National Team history. Only Norway (39) has played the USA more times.
The contest brings the U.S. women back to North Carolina for the first time since the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup games were held at SAS Stadium in 2002. The USA defeated both Australia and Italy, 4-0. The USA has played eight matches in North Carolina since 1995, two in Cary, two in Charlotte, three in Davidson and one in Greensboro, winning seven of those games with one tie.
The U.S. team has deep ties with North Carolina as numerous Women’s National Team players have played at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. On the current team, young stars Cat Whitehill, Lindsay Tarpley and Lori Chalupny recently finished their college careers at UNC while forward Heather O’Reilly has one more season of eligibility remaining. U.S. captain Kristine Lilly, who continues to build on her world-record 306 caps, also attended UNC, graduating in 1993.
Canada is ranked 12th in the most recent FIFA rankings and under head coach Even Pellerud has shown its ability to compete with any team in the world. Canada is stocked with talented attacking players, almost all of whom played their college soccer in the United States. Leading the way is two-time Hermann Trophy award winner Christine Sinclair from the University of Portland, who led the Pilots to the NCAA championship in 2005 with an amazing 39 goals.
The last meeting between the two teams was in a rainy Virginia Beach, Va., on June 26, 2005, as the USA defeated Canada 2-0 in Ryan’s first official match as head coach. The USA is 29-3-3 all-time against the Canadians and have won seven out of the last eight meetings after a streak of four matches in 2000 and 2001 when the Maple Leafs earned two ties and two wins.
The match against Canada comes about three and half months after the U.S. men will have played at SAS Soccer Park against Jamaica on April 11, in one of the many World Cup warm-up games for U.S. manager Bruce Arena’s squad. The U.S. will also use the Cary facility as their base training camp for two weeks prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
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