At a Women's World Cup news conference this week, Denmark coach
Jorgen Hvidemose began his opening remarks with a geography lesson. "We
would just like to inform all the Americans that Denmark is a
Scandinavian country. It is not the capital of Holland, as a man in
Detroit once told me," Hvidemose said with a wry smile.
Saturday afternoon, at a sold-out Giants Stadium, the largest women's
sporting event in history will begin as the heavily favored United
States meets modest Denmark and up-and-comer Brazil plays newcomer
Mexico. In preparation for the opener, a few more geography lessons are
First, this is the World Cup, not the U.S. Victory Tour, as the video
promoting the event seemed to indicate.
After Denmark forward Mikka Hansen watched the video, she was asked
if she minded that the home team, and star Mia Hamm, were featured so
prominently. "That's America. Mostly we don't mind that Mia is
everywhere. She deserves it. She's one of the best players in the world
and it's their event," she said.
Second, geographical lines have been blurred as several Americans are
playing for other teams.
is from Denmark. Hansen played on the U.S. under-21 team and was a star
at Santa Clara but steep competition at her forward position on the U.S.
team prompted her to play for Denmark, her father's native country. Her
father called Hvidemose and Hansen joined the team in January. "It's not
easy to leave anything, to come to a country and make no money. It's
kinda crazy," she admitted. "But it's a dream to be here. To play in the
Mexico, which plays Brazil in the second game, could qualify as a
minor-league U.S. team. Mexican-Americans make up about half of the
roster, which has caused some controversy in Mexico. The team's star is
Laurie Hill, is nicknamed "The Thrill," and was a former All-America at
Cal-Santa Barbara. Forward Monica Gerardo is Notre Dame's career leading
The final geography lesson for today is this: There's no place like
The Danes usually play in front of a few hundred fans. Since Giants
Stadium is expected to be sold out, Hvidemose mused, "I understand that
many Americans want to see the World Cup, but do they all have to come
on the same day?"
Notes & Quotes: The United States is 6-3-1 against the Danes. Last
summer in the Goodwill Games, the United States trounced Denmark, 5-0,
behind Mia Hamm's hat trick. The Danes play a physical style and are
strong in the air. The United States is more of an attacking team,
passing and possessing the ball.
The crowd at Giants Stadium will be the largest to witness a women's
soccer game, surpassing the gold-medal game at the Atlanta Olympics
(76,489). A total of 480,000 tickets have been sold for all of the
venues . . . Brazil, which plays the game to a samba beat, is without
its leading scorer, Roseli, who is injured, but has a formidable tandem
up front with Katia and Pretinha. Overmatched Mexico is playing in its
play Sweden in San Jose, Calif.