WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 21, 2003) – Mia Hamm registered all three assists as the U.S. Women’s National Team downed Sweden 3-1 this afternoon in their opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003. Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow and Shannon Boxx were all on the receiving end of Hamm’s passes, scoring for the U.S. in front of 34,144 fans at RFK Stadium. The U.S. will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., tonight and will have three days of training before clashing with Nigeria at Lincoln Financial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET, which will be televised live on ESPN2.
The U.S. came out determined from the opening whistle, putting pressure on Sweden’s backline early as Abby Wambach had two chances after just two minutes. Fighting off a defender, Wambach was able knock Hamm’s corner kick out of the air with right foot, but the ball rolled wide of the target. Off the ensuing goal kick, Parlow collected the ball in midfield and put Wambach behind the defense with a bouncing ball, but her quick shot from 22 yards out went wide left.
In the 13th minute, Kristine Lilly tested Swedish goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson for the first time putting a free kick on goal. The low 30-yard drive from Lilly was headed for the left side of the net, but Jonsson was able to dive to her right and snag the ball.
Moments after Lilly’s opportunity, Sweden sprung a dangerous counter attack as a ball was pushed forward to star forward Hanna Ljungberg down the right flank. U.S. ‘keeper Briana Scurry seeing the play develop, sprinted off her line and collided with the Swedish forward just outside the left side of the penalty area as they both went after the ball. Ljungberg was shaken up on the play and was carried off the field, while Scurry was given a yellow card for the hard tackle. Ljungberg returned to play a few minutes later but seemed a bit off her game for the rest of the match.
The U.S. finally broke through the Sweden defense in the 27th minute with a remarkable string of passes that led to the first goal of the game. Midfielder Julie Foudy started the attack near the center of the field, playing a brilliant pass out wide to Wambach on the right flank. Wambach pushed past Sweden defender Jane Tornqvist, before finding Hamm with a square pass. With a deft touch, Hamm one-timed the ball behind her and through the legs of a Swedish defender to Lilly, who drilled a shot into the upper left from 19-yards out for the 92nd goal of her career.
Nine minutes later, Parlow put the U.S. up 2-0 with a perfectly placed header off a Hamm corner. Using all of her 5’11” height, Parlow rose above her defender and snapped the ball off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
The U.S. almost went up 3-0 moments later when Boxx stole a poor pass out of the back from Tornqvist, and quickly fed Hamm in the penalty area. Hamm beat Jonsson to the ball and tried to push it around the ‘keeper, but Jonsson was able to get a hand on the ball and wrestle it off the feet of the U.S. forward.
Despite the lead, Sweden had a number of chances in the first half and was only out-shot 8-6. Forward Victoria Svensson, who was Sweden’s most dangerous player, caused the most problems for the U.S. defense as she ripped a number of shots on goal from outside the box. Just before the half, Svensonn had a chance to cut the deficit in half, but her header from inside the penalty area off a long free kick fell right into the hands of Scurry.
Sweden came out in the second half and swung the momentum in their favor, putting pressure on the U.S. backline. In the 48th minute, Ljungberg got free on the right wing and found Svensson in the box, but the forward’s header went wide left.
Despite Sweden picking up their game, the U.S. almost took a three-goal lead in the 52nd minute when Boxx knocked a loose ball off a corner into the box and Joy Fawcett flicked it on goal, but Jonsson came up with a great reflex save to keep it out of the net.
After Svensson’s first header, the Swedes didn’t waste a similar opportunity 10 minutes later. Ljungberg again curled in a cross from the right, which this time dipped over defender Joy Fawcett and found Svensson, who headed it home into the upper-left corner past an outstretched Scurry.
With their lead cut in half, the U.S. struggled held off a Sweden equalizer and was able to get the clinching goal off of a fantastic header by Boxx. Hamm’s service found Boxx at the far post and the midfielder was able to just get enough on the header to knock it back across the goal, dropping it into the left side of the net. With the goal, Boxx became the first player in U.S. Women’s National Team history to score a goal in each of her first three caps. Boxx was the first-ever uncapped player named to a U.S. Women’s World Cup Team.
Sweden had one last chance to get on the board in the final minute of the game as Anna Sjoestroem hit a well-struck left-footer, but Scurry came up with a fantastic save, diving to her right and snatching the ball out of mid-air to keep the two-goal lead.
U.S. defender Brandi Chastain suffered a fracture of the 3rd metatarsal bone in her right foot during the first half. Cat Reddick replaced Chastain at halftime and following the match Chastain had an X-ray on her foot at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington confirming the small fracture. Chastain will miss the rest of the USA’s first round matches, but will be re-evaluated at the end of group play as to her availability should the Americans advance to the quarterfinals or further.
The U.S. is tied with Korea DPR atop Group A with three points, but the Koreans are ahead of the U.S. in the standings with a better goal differential (+3 to +2).
Up next for the U.S. is Nigeria on Sept. 25 at Lincoln Financial Field (live on ESPN2 at 7:25 p.m. ET), before finishing Group A play on Sept. 28 versus North Korea at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio (live on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET).
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Sweden
Competition: FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003
Venue: RFK Stadium – Washington, D.C.
Date: September 21, 2003; Kickoff – 12:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
SWE 0 1 1
USA – Kristine Lilly (Mia Hamm) 27th
USA – Cindy Parlow (Mia Hamm) 36th
SWE – Victoria Svensson (Hanna Ljungberg) 48th
USA – Shannon Boxx (Mia Hamm) 78th
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 15-Kate Sobrero, 14-Joy Fawcett, 6-Brandi Chastain (4-Cat Reddick, 46), 3-Christie Pearce; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Julie Foudy - Capt., 13-Kristine Lilly; 20-Abby Wambach (16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 56), 12-Cindy Parlow (10-Aly Wagner, 70), 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs not used: 2-Kylie Bivens, 5-Tiffany Roberts, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 17-Danielle Slaton, 18-Siri Mullinix, 19-Angela Hucles.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs
SWE: 1-Carolina Jonsson, 2-Karolina Westberg, 3-Jane Tornqvist, 4-Hanna Marklund, 6-Malin Mostrom, 7-Sara Larsson, 9-Malin Andersson (17-Anna Sjoestrom, 77), 10-Hanna Ljungberg (20-Josefine Oeqvist, 83), 11-Victoria Svensson, 14-Linda Fagerstrom, 15-Therese Sjoegran (18-Frida Oestberg, 46).
Subs not used: 5-Kristin Bengtsson, 8-Frida Nordin, 12-Sofia Lundgren, 13-Sara Johansson, 16-Salina Olsson, 10-Sara Call.
Head Coach: Marika Lyfors
Statistical Summary: USA SWE
Shots 12 10
Saves 6 4
Corner Kicks 8 3
Fouls 5 11
Offside 1 2
USA – Briana Scurry (caution) 13th minute
USA -- Aly Wagner (caution) 70th
SWE – Anna Sjoestroem (caution) 77th
Referee: Dongqing Zhang (CHN)
Referee Asst.: Hsiu Mei Liu (TPE)
Referee Asst.: Hisae Yoshizawa (JPN)
4th Official: Xonam Agboyi (TOG)