Through "CONCACAF Retro" you will revisit the region's most memorable people, events and crowning achievements.
Stars & Stripes gain berth to first FIFA Women's World Cup
Beginning its women's national team program six years earlier, the United States placed the first of several trophies onto its mantle after winning the inaugural CONCACAF championship at the Stade Silvio Cator in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, played April 16-28, 1991.
"This was the first opportunity for us to perform in the region and see how we fared against the CONCACAF other teams," said former captain and midfielder April Heinrichs, who is currently the U.S. Soccer Federation's Women's Technical Director."Our preparations were very limited and there was great sense of uncertainty in this new tournament as the players didn't know what to except.
"However, we were still confident that we were going to perform well and obtain the goals which were to win the event and qualify for the first world championships."
Along with the Stars & Stripes' play, the fans in Haiti were a highlight of the competition, as 340,000 attended the 11 match days (30,909 avg.).There were eight sold out matchdays of 40,000 spectators each that remain CONCACAF women's tournament records.
"The people were fantastic," remembered former striker Carin Jennings Gabarra, who is now the women's head coach at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland."They were very passionate and energetic throughout all the matches.
"We gave flowers to the crowd before the games in a sign of mutual respect for their hospitality.It was a great atmosphere and the people were very supportive which gave us a special bond with them."
Under the direction of head coach Anson Dorrance, the U.S. started the eight-team tournament impressively, topping Mexico 12-0 in a Group A game on April 18.The encounter was underlined by a five-goal performance from defender Brandi Chastain.
Two days later, Heinrichs scored three goals to lead the Americans to another 12-0 triumph, on this occasion, against Martinique.
The U.S. closed group play on April 22, winning once more by double digits, 10-0, over Trinidad & Tobago.Jennings Gabarra, defender Wendy Gebauer and forwards Michelle Akers-Stahl and Mia Hamm each struck for two goals.
Next up was a semifinal meeting against the host on April24.Another capacity crowd at the Silvio Cator was on hand to watch Akers-Stahl, Heinrichs, Jennings Gabarra and midfielder Tracey Bates score two goals apiece in a 10-0 victory, paving the way for a place in the finals.
Heinrichs recalled: "We always played with great respect towards our opponents and we were able to win the people (fans) in attendance and the country over with our competiveness."
In the April 27 championship match, Akers-Stahl finished as the tournament's top scorer when she netted a hat-trick to take her total to 11 tallies, lifting the U.S. to a 5-0 win over Canada.Heinrichs and midfielder Kristine Lilly each added a goal for the Stars & Stripes, which qualified for the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup in China.
The Americans went on to compete at, and win, the first FIFA Women's World Cup in November 1991 by defeating Norway 2-1 in a thrilling finale.All of the top post-tournament awards went to the U.S. players with Gabarra taking the Golden Ball (Most Valuable Player) and Silver Shoe (tournament second leading scorer), while Akers won the Silver Ball (second MVP) and the Golden Shoe (top scorer).
Success didn't stop there, as the U.S. won three more CONCACAF championships (1994, 2002, 2006), three Olympic Qualifying titles (2004, 2008, 2012), another FIFA World Cup (1999), three Women's Olympic Football Tournaments gold medals (1996, 2004, 2008).It had the honor of hosting two FIFA Women's World Cups (1999, 2003) as well.
At the youth level, the Stars & Stripes have won three CONCACAF U-20 Tournaments (2006, 2010, 2012), one U-17 crown and two FIFA U-20 titles (2002, 2008).
Gabarra and Heinrichs credited the 1991 CONCACAF Championship as "starting the growth process of women's football in the region."
Since 1991, nine confederation women's competitions (including World Cup & Olympic Qualifying) have been, plus eight additional youth championships (Under-20 and U-17), throughout the three CONCACAF zone regions (North, Central America & Caribbean).
A few CONCACAF women's team accolades since 1991:
Canada - qualified for five FIFA World Cups (1995-2011), two Olympic Games (2008, 2012), five FIFA U-19/20 Tournaments (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012), three FIFA U-17s (2008, 2010, 2012); won two CONCACAF Championships (1998, 2010), two Women's U-20s (2004, 2008), one U-17 (2010) along with a bronze (2007), silver (2003) and gold (2011) medals, respectively, at the Pan American Games; hosted first FIFA Women's U-19 World Cup in 2002; scheduled to host the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup
Costa Rica - qualified to FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in 2010; earned a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games; won two Central American titles (2001, 2002), three Central American Youth Crowns (2002, 2004, 2010); scheduled to host the 2014 FIFA U-17 World Cup
Guatemala - won two Central American titles (1998, 1999); earned bronze medal at the 2010 Central American & Caribbean Games
Mexico - qualified for two FIFA Women's World Cups (1999, 2011), five FIFA Women's U-19/20 Tournaments (2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012), one Olympic Games (2004) and FIFA U-17s (2010).
Jamaica - won the Caribbean U-20 title in 2006
Panama - won Central American U-17 crowns in 2010, 2012
Trinidad & Tobago - earned the silver medal at the 2010 Central American & Caribbean Games; won two youth titles (U-20 in 2010, U-17 in 2012); hosted the FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup in 2010
USA Roster - 1991 CONCACAF Women's Championship
GOALKEEPERS: Amy Allmann, Kim Maslin-Kammerdeiner
DEFENDERS: Debbie Belkin, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett (née Biefield), Wendy Gebauer, Megan McCarthy, Carla Overbeck (née Werden), Keri Sanchez
MIDFIELDERS: Tracey Leone (née Bates), Amanda Cromwell, Julie Foudy, April Heinrichs, Shannon Higgins, Kristine Lilly
FORWARDS: Michelle Akers-Stahl, Carin Gabarra (née Jennings), Mia Hamm.
TD: Anson DORRANCE
1991 Tournament Results
(all matches at Stade Silver Cator in Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
18.04: Martinique - Trinidad & Tobago 1:1; USA - Mexico 12:0
20.04: Trinidad & Tobago - Mexico 3:1;Martinique - USA 0:12
22.04: Martinique - Mexico 1:8; USA - Trinidad & Tobago 10:0
16.04: Canada - Costa Rica 6:0
17.04: Jamaica - Haiti 0:1
19.04: Canada - Jamaica 9:0; Haiti - Costa Rica 4:0
21.04: Jamaica - Costa Rica 1:2; Haiti - Canada 0:2
24.04: Canada - Trinidad & Tobago 6:0; USA - Haiti 10:0
27.04: Trinidad & Tobago - Haiti 4:2
28.04: USA - Canada 5:0
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