More than 1,000 pieces of 18-month old perennial rye grass have been rolled out and pieced together on the floor of Portland, Oregon's Civic Stadium in preparation for one of greatest days in U.S. women's soccer history. On June 6th, the U.S. women's national team will play its final match on the "NIKE Road to Pasadena" tour, facing Canada in the first match of a doubleheader which also features Women's World Cup teams Brazil and Australia. The U.S. match will be broadcast live on ABC at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, the first time ever that a women's game has been on network television.
The match has already sold more tickets than any stand-alone women's game in history and a near sell-out crowd is expected at the 27,000 seat stadium. Tickets are still available in all categories, priced at $20, $28, $48 and $100, by calling (503) 224-TIXX or any Fred Meyer FASTTIXX outlet. For group discounts, call Women's World Cup-Portland at (503) 525-8800.
Each piece of turf is approximately four feet wide and 35 feet long and weighs over 3,000 pounds each. The three day process involved laying the turf over a liner that covers the entire artificial surface, then watering and mowing the field until it is ready for competition on June 6. After the match, the grass will be rolled back up and transported back to the J.B. Instant Lawn Farm in Silverton, Ore. The process will be repeated again prior to the 1999 Women's World Cup matches taking place on June 23 and 24, which will feature Japan vs. Russia, China vs. Ghana, Denmark vs. North Korea and Mexico vs. Germany.
The June 6th game marks the third time that sod will be laid at Civic Stadium and the first time for a women's game. The U.S. men played on temporary grass Sept. 7, 1997, against Costa Rica and May 25, 1998, against Kuwait, winning both games.
"U.S. Soccer has a brief but memorable history of games at Civic," said U.S. Soccer Manager of Events Emilio Pozzi. "We expect June 6th to be an historic day as well as a resounding send-off for our women. It will be a preview of the kind of atmosphere that will be present in stadiums throughout the World Cup."
The USA vs. Canada clash will be the 10th and final on the "NIKE Road to Pasadena," which will have taken the U.S. through nine cities, including four venues for the Women's World Cup. The Americans have a commanding 18-1-0 record against Canada, with the most recent meeting a 4-0 victory in Orlando, Fla. last August. However, the U.S. is still stinging from the two goals scored by Canadian star Charmaine Hooper in the 2-1 loss to the FIFA World Stars at the Women's World Cup Final Draw All-Star Match last February.
In addition, each fan attending the June 6th doubleheader will receive "banger sticks" noisemakers from NIKE. Fans are also being encouraged to "wear white" in support of the home team as they play their final match before opening Women's World Cup play on June 19th against Denmark at Giants Stadium.
U.S. coach Tony DiCicco named his Women's World Cup Team on May 17 and will bring his 20-player squad to Portland for the final two preparation games. The USA will also play Australia in a match closed to the public on the NIKE Campus at 3 p.m. on June 3rd.
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