The U.S. national women's soccer team is turning its attention to the 1995 world championships.
The 1991 titlists are motivated, but not by potential financial rewards. There are none, except for five players who have signed outside promotional deals.
"The reason we're playing is we love to play and we love to win," said midfielder Kristine Lilly, one of nine 1991 veterans on the squad. "It's personal, and I don't think many people understand it."
None of the 22 women training at Howard High School in Columbia for the Chiquita Cup and CONCACAF (confederation of the Americas) qualifying tournament is under contract, said team spokeswoman Paula Martin. That means they are not paid.
The team's leading scorer, Michelle Akers-Stahl, said they receive U.S. Olympic Committee health insurance, $10 per diem, and those not in college get $30 per day compensation for lost wages. U.S. officials would not confirm those figures.
"One thing that does characterize this team, even in transition, is its intensity and its commitment to be the best," said coach Anson Dorrance, coach at the University of North Carolina, which has won eight straight NCAA championships and 12 of the past 13. "And working its rear off. They have the opportunity to do something incredible: going for a second world championship."
Eight U.S. team members have played or do play for North Carolina.
Since winning the world title in 1991, the U.S. women have met sporadically to train or play matches.
The road to repeat begins in earnest Sunday at George Mason Uni
versity in Fairfax, Va., when the Americans play Germany in the inaugural Chiquita Cup.
The U.S. team also faces China on Aug. 3 at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., and Norway on Aug. 7 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., in the four-nation round robin.
The event includes four of the top five finishers from the '91 world tournament, so the Americans, who beat Norway, 2-1, in the 1991 final, will come away with a good idea of how they stack up against elite sides.
"With the teams involved, we get to measure where we are and what we need to do," said Lilly.
The 18 players named to the Chiquita Cup roster -- barring serious injury -- will travel to Montreal for the CONCACAF qualifying tournament Aug. 13-21. The top two teams make it into the "women's World Cup."
In 1991 qualifying, the Americans beat five opponents by a cumulative 49-0, including 5-0 over Canada in the final. The United States is 11-1 against Canada and hasn't lost to Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico or Jamaica.
"Things are on the line," said defender Amanda Cromwell of Annandale, Va. "I feel pressure to play well . . . but there's always pressure. If you're not at the top of your game, maybe [Dorrance] will bring in somebody else."
TEAM FACTS AND FIGURES
What: The U.S. women's national soccer team.
When: Training at Howard High School today at 10 a.m., tomorrow at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. The women will scrimmage the Maryland State under-17 boys Olympic Development team today at 4 p.m. at Howard High.
Chiquita Cup: A four-nation, round-robin tournament in which the United States plays Germany Sunday at 2 p.m. at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.; China, Aug. 3, 7:30 p.m., at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.; and Norway, Aug. 7, 2 p.m., at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
Tickets: Call (800) 450-1999.