Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Big Chill for Soccer Exhibitions Record Crowd Watches U.S. Teams Split Matches

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Big Chill for Soccer Exhibitions Record Crowd Watches U.S. Teams Split Matches

Article excerpt

Two things happened yesterday at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium:

the United States emerged as a threat to win two soccer medals

in the upcoming Olympics and Jacksonville emerged as a favored

site of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Though losing 2-1 to Norway, the U.S. Women's National Team --

which defeated Norway 3-2 Friday in Tampa -- proved it is

capable of winning the first-ever Olympic women's soccer gold

medal. Only a Hege Riise goal off a direct-free kick in the 90th

minute gave defending world champion Norway its win despite the

U.S. team inserting five new starters into its lineup.

In the first game, the U.S. Men's Under-23 team defeated Norway

2-1.

The crowd of 8,975, a record for U.S. women's soccer match,

included U.S. Soccer Federation Secretary General Hank

Steinbrecher, who was impressed with the support. To

Steinbrecher, Jacksonville deserves to play host to more top

international soccer matches.

"If it was warmer, we could have had a significantly larger

walk-up [game-day ticket sales] number," Steinbrecher said. "But

we're very, very pleased with the turnout. My staff reported

that the Jacksonville Sports Development Authority did a good

job promoting the game and we'd certainly like to come back."

Steinbrecher added that whenever U.S. Soccer does return to

Jacksonville, he'd like to see the full U.S. National Men's Team

-- which competed in the last World Cup -- playing.

By the time the women's "friendly" began, the temperature had

dipped to 34 degrees with an 8-degree wind-chill factor.

But moments after Brandi Chastain converted a penalty kick in

the 83rd minute to tie the game at one for the United States,

passions heated up on the field.

U.S. defender Thori Staples and Norway's Marianne Pettersen got

involved in a short scuffle that saw Pettersen literally kick

Staples in the rear. …

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