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U.S. women's soccer team to play at Livestrong Sporting Park

By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star

Livestrong Sporting Park will serve as the launching pad for the U.S. Women's National Team's post-World Cup tour, bringing international stars Abby Wambach and Hope Solo to Kansas City.

Sporting KC, which opened its new state-of-the-art facility in June, made the announcement Wednesday before an MLS regular-season battle with Real Salt Lake.

Initial speculation had the U.S. playing New Zealand, but instead the opponent for the 6 p.m. kickoff Sept. 17 will be Canada.

“The players are really excited for the chance to celebrate their World Cup performance,” U.S. Soccer senior manager of communications Neil Buethe said. “It's really a chance for the players to say thanks to all the fans who cheered them. We expect it to be a great atmosphere for the players and the fans.”

Landing the U.S. women's national team's first game after a runner-up finish at the World Cup, losing to Japan in a penalty-kick shootout in the championship match in Germany, is a coup for Sporting KC and Kansas City in general. “We started talking about it toward the latter end of the World Cup this year and hopefully we'll be in all the talks for big U.S. national team games moving forward,” Sporting KC Vice President of Communications Rob Thomson said.

“It's a very exciting day for us. It's been a while since we've had the women here.” It will be the women's national team's fifth appearance in Kansas City and first since 2004. The team is 2-0-2 in its previous appearances, including a 1-1 draw against Canada on Aug. 20, 2000, in the buildup to the Sydney Summer Olympics.

The U.S. women also played at Arrowhead Stadium following the World Cup in 1999, a 6-0 win against Finland, and 2003, a 2-2 draw versus Italy.

The most recent game was a 1-0 victory versus Mexico in an international friendly Oct. 16, 2004.

“It's a testament to, first of all, our stadium, but also to the work that our front office does and our ownership in pitching these things,” Thomson said. “We've always said you're going to see more events and concerts in this venue. We're only two months old, but we're going to keep bringing these games to Kansas City and our fans.” Tickets, which will start at $22, will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Aug. 12, but Sporting KC season-ticket holders will have access to a presale starting 10 a.m. today. Visa cardholders can purchase tickets in a presale starting at 10 a.m. Aug. 11.

Among the additional events Sporting KC hopes to land are another men's national team game -- preferably versus Mexico -- and an MLS All-Star Game.

Sporting KC, whose homestand continues at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the Seattle Sounders FC, plays at Real Salt Lake immediately after the U.S. women's game versus Canada.

“We'll have the game here and then there will be a watch party after that for fans who want to stick around,” Thomson said.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-7732 or send e-mail to tpalmer@kcstar.com

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