July 22, 2002
BLAINE, Minn. - The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team put forth a dominating effort in the stifling heat and humidity, scoring three goals in the first half and adding another in the final minute of play on the way to a 4-0 win over rival Norway Sunday at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.
With the win, the USA broke a frustrating four-game losing streak to the Norwegians that dates back to the 3-2 overtime loss in the 2000 Olympic gold medal match.
In a match played at relatively slow pace due to the 90-degree temperatures at kickoff, the U.S. women played low pressure against the Norwegians from the beginning, won the majority of air balls and attacked with rhythm and class from a 4-4-2 formation as Chevy Player of the Match Tiffeny Milbrett created two header goals for Cindy Parlow sandwiched around a goal of her own.
"We had two days of training time and we went with a totally new system," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "We're proud of the players and they played smart soccer. We tried to get all the players the greatest opportunity for playing time and you saw a lot of players did well today."
The USA opened the scoring in the 11th minute as Milbrett danced inside a defender from the right flank and sent a pretty chip with her left foot into the penalty area. Parlow skirted the Norwegian restraining line and snapped an uncontested header into the right corner from five yards out.
Milbrett struck just six minutes later to make it 2-0 after just 17 minutes. Midfielder Aly Wagner sent a long pass over the Norwegian defense to Milbrett, who got a step on Ane Stangeland, but was not going to beat goalkeeper Astrid Johannessen to the ball. The big 'keeper rushed out of her goal to clear, but swung at the ball and missed at the top of the penalty area, leaving the goal wide open for Milbrett to accelerate after the ball and touch it into the net from seven yards out. It was Milbrett's 88th career goal, trying her with Kristine Lilly for third all-time for the USA and 5th all-time in the world.
Norway had its only good chance of the half in the 26th minute, as an Anita Rapp header went wide right. Hege Riise tried to volley a long shot over U.S. goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene in the 36th minute, but Beene easily dove to her right to snag it. Left alone against the U.S. back line in Norway's 4-5-1 formation, lone forward Ingrid Saethre had a tough day, getting very few touches against the U.S. center back duo of Joy Fawcett and Brandi Chastain.
The USA made it 3-0 in the 30th minute as Milbrett received a ball on right flank and twisted Stangeland into the ground before lifting a chip into the middle for the cutting Parlow, who flicked a shoulder-height header into the lower right corner. The goals upped Parlow's international total to 48.
The USA played without Lilly, its all-time caps leader, who was not released by the Boston Breakers this weekend while Norway was without star striker Dagny Mellgren, who was also withheld by the Breakers, as well as midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen and goalkeeper Bente Nordby.
Without Lilly, 21-year-old Wagner got the start and played well, striking two dangerous shots on goal in the first half.
The match marked the return to the lineup of striker Mia Hamm, who played the entire second half and notched her world-record 130th goal in the 90th minute. The goal came off a corner kick from the right side as Wagner bent a ball into the middle that was headed at goal by second half substitute Angela Hucles. The ball was cleared off the line, but Hamm was right there to drill the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Wagner and defender Cat Reddick, who played 90 minutes, left after the game to join the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team in Finland for the Nordic Cup.
The U.S. women will now return to their WUSA clubs and will not regroup again to play for their country again until September, looking towards the 2002 Nike U.S. Women's Cup. CONCACAF qualifying for the 2003 Women's World Cup will take place from October 27 to November 9 at four venues on the west coast of the United States.