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Virginia Beach Mariners to Host U.S. Women's National Team vs. Canada match

May 25, 2005 - USL First Division (USL-1) - Virginia Beach Mariners News Release

CHICAGO (May 25, 2005) -- The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team returns to the field on Sunday, June 26, for its first domestic match of 2005 facing Canada at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The clash between the long-time border rivals kicks off at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, giving fans across the country their first look at a U.S. team in the early stages of preparation for the run to the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China. The match is being co-hosted by the Virginia Beach Mariners of the USL First Division and the City of Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Beach Sportsplex, which opened in 1998, holds 10,000 fans, with 6,000 seats and room for another 4,000 on a grassy berm. Tickets ranging in price levels from $18 to $90 go on sale starting Thursday, June 2, at 10:00 a.m. ET on-line at, by phone at 757-671-8100, at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Virginia (including Farm Fresh and Ukrop Super's), and at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex (9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday). Groups of 20 or more can order through U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1249.

The U.S. women are coming off an exciting tournament title at the 2005 Algarve Cup in Portugal where they won all four matches - three against teams in the top-10 of FIFA's world rankings - while not allowing a goal. New U.S. head coach Greg Ryan, who led the team to the Algarve Cup championship as the interim head coach, will run his first game on home soil after being named the fifth head coach in U.S. Women's National Team history on April 8.

The U.S. roster will feature a mix of Olympic gold medallists and exciting young talent. Forward Abby Wambach is coming off a 31-goal performance in 2004, one of the best scoring years in U.S. history, while team captain Kristine Lilly and defender Kate Markgraf return from a brief stint in the Swedish First Division to add their veteran leadership to the team. Lilly, currently at 295 caps, also renews her run to the previously unthinkable 300-cap mark. Lilly is also five goals away from becoming the second leading scorer in the history of internationals soccer.

"I am really looking forward to getting the team on the field for training with the payoff of a match against Canada," said Ryan. "We had some great success in Portugal, but we need to build off that and continue to get better. Canada always presents some difficult challenges, but we like that because it makes us better as a team."

The Sportsplex, which is the home field for the Mariners, will host just the fourth ever match in the state for the U.S. women, and first since 1998, when the U.S. downed Brazil, 3-0, in Richmond. Virginia Beach is also home to 2004 Olympic gold medallist Angela Hucles, who was a Parade and NSCAA high school All-American at Norfolk Academy. The former UVA star played in two matches at the 2004 Olympics and currently has 49 caps for the USA.

Canada recently returned from a productive European tour, drawing 1-1 with Holland before losing twice to reigning Women's World Cup champion Germany. The Maple Leafs wound up the tour with a solid 2-0 win over France, and will return to Europe for matches once more before facing the USA in late June, meaning the Americans will face an in-form and sharp Canadian side trying to regroup and rebound after failing to qualify for the 2004 Olympics.

The series between the USA and Canada goes back 19 years, but has only recently become competitive. While the USA has won the last four games, the last 10 meetings have seen the USA rack up a 6-2-2 record against the Canadians, who have made vast improvement under Norwegian head coach Even Pelerud over the past few years, advancing to within minutes of making the Women's World Cup Final in 2003.

Canada features several of the world's top players, including ageless captain Charmaine Hooper, the 2003 WUSA Rookie of the Year Christine Latham and 2004 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner from the University of Portland, Christine Sinclair. Canada has several up-and-coming stars, including midfielder Brittany Timko, who was the top scorer at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship in Thailand.

"Anytime we can present a match of this magnitude, it is exciting for our community," said Virginia Beach Mariners' head coach Shawn McDonald. "It is an honor to have been asked by U.S. Soccer to host this game, and we are grateful to the City of Virginia Beach for their support."

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