Tonight US Soccer is replaying a classic USWNT friendly from the late 1990s — it will stream on YouTube and Facebook starting at 7 pm CT, with a special pre-game chat with Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain at 6:30 pm CT. Below are a few of the Keeper’s Notes on the game.
This game was part of a six-game series of friendlies in spring 1997, the first home games for the USWNT since winning the inaugural Olympic gold medal match the summer before. (This was before the days of preplanned Victory Tours following big tournaments.)
This time period also represents the beginning of preparations for the 1999 Women’s World Cup, so then-head coach Tony DiCicco started bringing in new players. Sara Whalen (who went on to make the 1999 roster), Cindy Daws and Jamie Pagliarulo (who played in the WUSA) earned their first caps shortly before this England match. Ronnie Fair came on as a sub in this game to make her international debut, marking the first time that sisters played on the senior national team at the same time (twin sister Lorrie Fair started the match, and would go on to make the 1999 roster). Two days after this game, Michelle French earned her first cap. French later earned a spot on the 2000 Olympic team and would become a founding player in the WUSA.
This game marked the largest crowd for a USWNT home friendly at the time — more than 17,000 fans came to Spartan Stadium in San Jose to watch the Olympic champions.
• For Mia Hamm, this was just her third game back with the national team after missing time due to the death of her brother. Note that all the USWNT players are wearing black armbands in his honor for this game. She dealt with her grief by scoring goals — lots of them. In the seven-game span following her return, she scored 14 goals, including a hat trick in this match against England and a hat trick three weeks later versus Canada. More than 15 years after her retirement, Hamm remains the all-time USWNT leader for hat tricks (10 games in which she scored 3 or more goals).
• A young Christie Pearce starts on defense in this game, in just her 8th international appearance. The striker from Monmouth University made her debut the previous February, getting news of her first call-up via fax machine!
• Shannon MacMillan scores the first goal of the match. She had been the USWNT’s top scorer at the Olympics the summer before.
• Local fans got to see Stanford alum Julie Foudy score in this game, as well as the “sister debut” of the Fair twins, who hailed from nearby Los Altos. And of course San Jose native Brandi Chastain played the full 90.
• Tracy Ducar (now Noonan) replaces Briana Scurry in goal in the second half. Just like he was trying out many young field players, Tony DiCicco rotated keepers liberally during this off-year. Only five of the 18 USWNT games in 1997 did *not* feature a keeper change during the match.
• Look for an 18-year-old Kelly Smith in England’s starting lineup. At this point in her international career, the striker had just four goals to her credit — she went on to become England’s all-time leading scorer with 46 goals in 117 international appearances. She also played in the WUSA (Philadelphia Charge) and in the WPS (Boston Breakers).
• Midfielder Hope Powell was named England’s head coach just a year after this game. She went on to manage the Lionesses for the next 15 years, leading the squad to the 2009 Euro final and two Women’s World Cup appearances.
• Midfielder/sweeper Gillian Coultard was the first women to earn 100 caps for England. She scored England’s first-ever Women’s World Cup goal in 1995, against Canada in the group stage. Coultard narrowly misses scoring off a free kick early in this game.
• Centerback Mo Marley was capped 41 times by England and is currently the head coach of England’s U-19 women’s national team. Back in 2002, she took over as Everton’s manager (firing her husband in the process) and led the Toffees to the 2008 FA Women’s Premier League Cup and the 2010 FA Women’s Cup.
• Of the 16 USWNT players who took the field in this game, all but one would play in the WUSA that launched four years later. Forward Debbie Keller is the lone exception.
• Spartan Stadium, the site of this game, would later serve as home field for the Bay Area (later San Jose) CyberRays of the WUSA, and would host five more USWNT friendlies through 2007. As its field is fairly small, it’s not generally used for soccer anymore.
• Note that the USWNT jerseys of this era don’t feature any World Cup stars (at this point they’d have one for the 1991 win), as that was not quite a common tradition yet. There are also no player names on the back of the jerseys. It seems that became a regular practice for the USWNT two years later, in the build-up to the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
• On the call with JP Dellacamera for this match is USWNT alum Amy Allmann (now Griffin), one of the backup keepers for the 1991 Women’s World Cup.