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FIRST-TIME SPORT // SOCCER // WOMEN

DATES: July 21-Aug. 1

VENUES: Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.; RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.; Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando; Orange Bowl in Miami, and Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.

TV: none listed

DAILY SCHEDULE:

July 21-25 _ First-round games

July 28 _ Semifinals

Aug. 1 _ bronze and gold medal games

U.S. first round:

July 21 _ U.S. vs. Denmark, 4 p.m., Citrus Bowl, Orlando

July 23 _ U.S. vs. Sweden, 6 p.m., Citrus Bowl, Orlando

July 25 _ U.S. vs. China, 6:30 p.m., Orange Bowl, Miami

Also at the Citrus Bowl

July 25 _ Denmark vs. Sweden, 6:30 p.m.

ORLANDO TICKET INFO: Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster (407) 839-3900 or at the Orlando Arena Box Office (407) 849-2020. Prices range from $20 to $40.

FUN FACT: The largest crowd to watch a women's game in the United States was 7,083, which saw the U.S. beat Norway 2-1 in overtime at RFK Stadium on Aug. 6, 1995.

ANALYSIS: Norway is the defending world champion, dethroning the U.S. in the semifinals of the last championship competition in 1995. But the United States was hardly at full strength. Forward/midfielder Michelle Akers suffered a concussion and missed all but a few minutes of the tournament before the Norway match, then injured her knee in the game and struggled throughout. The loss also spurred a new resolve within the players _ to be the best.

PREDICTIONS:

Gold _ United States

Silver _ Norway

Bronze _ Germany

_ BRIAN LANDMAN

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