Wagner, Slaton, Chastain Start for U.S.
Oct. 3, 2002
CARY, N.C. - The U.S. Women's National Team used some high speed ball possession against an always gritty Australian Women's National Team to record a solid 4-0 victory in its second game of the 2002 NIKE U.S. Women's Cup. With the win, the USA now has six points and needs a win or a draw against Italy on Sunday to claim its ninth Nike U.S. Women's Cup title. The match versus Italy will be shown live on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. PT. The first game of the doubleheader featuring Australia-Russia starts at 8:30 a.m.
"It's difficult for these players who play 40 games and 11 months out of the year to get excited for every game," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "Collectively our team struggled mentally for the Russia game, and we all knew we had to be better tonight. You saw some dynamic, attacking, creative soccer. We created enough chances to win and scored some nice goals."
The USA dominated the match, out-shooting the Matildas 14-3, but found space in the offensive third lacking as the Australians were organized in the back. The USA had to endure one scary moment in the 9th minute as Gillian Thomson got in on the left side of the penalty area and slid a pass across to Joanne Peters, whose sliding shot was blocked by a sliding Danielle Slaton.
From there, it was pretty much all USA and the Americans scored their first goal in the 23rd minute off a penalty kick. The foul came after Mia Hamm played Cindy Parlow with a short pass in the left side of the penalty area. Parlow cut back, away from the goal, and was chopped down by defender Dianne Alagich at the top of the penalty area. Brandi Chastain stepped up to hit the penalty kick and struck her shot well to the left corner. Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri made a great effort to fly to the post, but in an unusual sequence, the ball struck the inside of the left post, rebounded behind Barbieri, hit off the goalkeeper's left heel and rolled across the goal line into the right corner. Chastain, who notched her 27th career goal, also got the USA started in the first match of the tournament against Russia with a penalty kick score.
Cindy Parlow got her first goal of the game in the 34th minute, courtesy of Hamm and Kristine Lilly. Hamm slipped a short pass into the left side of the penalty area to the streaking Lilly, who slid a cross on the ground for Parlow to re-direct into the right corner from six yards out with the outside of her fight foot.
Midfielder Aly Wagner almost added to the lead after Parlow had skinned Cheryl Salisbury in the right side of the penalty area and found Wagner in the seam, but the Santa Clara senior cracked her spinning shot off the crossbar from 13 yards out. Joy Fawcett almost scored off a flick from a corner kick in the 44th minute, but the ball was smothered by Barbieri at the near post.
In the 58th minute, another Fawcett flick led to the USA's third goal. Hamm sent a blistering drive to the near post off a corner kick that Fawcett re-directed back into the middle with her head. Parlow was jostling with her defender, then stepped in front and volleyed the ball with the outside of her foot, off a defender and just over the goal line, before Australia cleared it away. But before the Matlidas could argue, the assistant referee had the flag up to signal that the ball had crossed the line. It was Parlow's 52nd international goal and third of the tournament.
Heinrichs emptied her bench in the second half, giving time to Cat Reddick, Tiffany Roberts, Angela Hucles, Abby Wambach, 17-year-old Heather O'Reilly and Shannon MacMillan. It was MacMillan who would tally the last goal, scoring spectacularly in the 74th minute directly off a corner kick from the left side after her bending, driven cross was batted into the goal by Barbieri. It was MacMillan's 48th international goal and team-leading 13th goal of the year.
"This is a big field and you want to try to compact the other team as much as possible," said Hamm. "We were patient and let them play around with the ball in the back and then they got forward into our zones and gave us the opportunity to step in an intercept balls. Lorrie Fair and Aly Wagner did a great job finding seams. It's tough when you play four in the (center) midfield to get out wide, but Kristine and Julie (Foudy) did very well. Kristine was awesome tonight. She got around the defense and when you do that, you have defenses running at their own goal and that puts them in a tough spot. It was more of what we expect out of ourselves."
After Sunday's games, the tournament will end on Wednesday, Oct. 9 as Italy faces Australia in the final game of the competition, a match that will be moot if the Americans can pick up a win or a tie against the Italians on Sunday.