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U.S. WNT Defeats Mexico 2-0, Play For Athens Berth on Wednesday


SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Feb. 29, 2004) - The U.S. Women's National Team put in a professional performance against Mexico in its final Group B match of the CONCACAF Final Round Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, taking care of business in a 2-0 win on the hard ground of Estadio Nacional.  With the victory, the USA wins the group and now awaits the results of the Canada-Costa Rica Group A match tomorrow to find out who it will play in the semifinal, the winner of which earns a berth to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

In one of the more important USA-Mexico women's matches in history, Mexico had the misfortune of giving up an own goal just 10 minutes into the game.  The play started with a corner kick from the right side that Kristine Lilly powered past the far post to Shannon Boxx, who met the ball with a solid header back across the face of the goal.  Mexico couldn't clear the ball, and a miscommunication between Maria Castillo and goalkeeper Jennifer Molina caused the ball to bounce off Castillo, off the arm of Molina and into the net.

The boisterous crowd of about 3,000 fans provided a festive atmosphere at Estadio Nacional, with the respective fans chanting all game long for their teams, punctuated by the incessant wail of an air raid horn, courtesy of one Mexican fan.

The USA got its second goal in the 26th minute after Mia Hamm earned a foul, getting chopped down just outside the left side of the penalty area almost right on the end line.  Lilly chipped a short cross to the far post where Abby Wambach beat her defender and managed to slip a header into the net from a sharp angle.  It was Wambach's 17th international goal in 28 matches.

The USA had several other quality chances in the half.  About 20 minutes into the game, Cat Reddick took a long free kick on the ground to the cutting Hamm inside the penalty area.  She held off a defender and rolled a pass back to the onrushing Julie Foudy, but her left-footed shot hit the outside of the left post as she was hammered by a Mexican defender.

In the 22nd minute, Hamm put in some great dribbling work down left flank, powering past two defenders and, as she was knocked off the end of the field, got off a cross that was headed towards the near post. The ball was rolling right to Molina, but Lindsay Tarpley stepped in front, spun back toward the middle and as she was falling, hit a shot that skimmed off the top of the crossbar.

In the 35th minute, Wambach's diving header off a Hamm cross was batted away by the scrambling by Molina or it would have bounced into the lower right corner.

"The field was so hard, and it was very windy, and we didn't manage to get the ball on the ground enough," said U.S. captain Julie Foudy.  "Everything is bouncing up to your chest and neck and our touch was a little off.  We played a better first half for sure, but we're glad that we got another shutout and our defense has been playing well.  We go into the semifinals with two days off and that will help."

All of Mexico's danger in the first half, and its three shots, come off the counter attack, but none of them were dangerous.  Maribel Dominguez' drive from 20 yards that plowed right into the mid-section of U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry was as close as Mexico got to scoring.

"Our defense has been very solid," said Scurry, who played her 131st match for the USA.  "They've been playing very well no matter who is back there.  Considering the conditions of the field, I think we've been very cohesive almost as if we're in mid-season form."

The USA played a 4-4-2 formation as U.S. head coach April Heinrichs used the same starting lineup as from the opening match of the tournament vs. Trinidad & Tobago.  Mexico started in 3-4-3 but got little in the way of offensive from the trio of forwards, Iris Mora, Dominguez and Patricia Perez. 

The U.S. played a lackluster second half, and in fact, did not take a shot after the break, while Mexico managed two, the most dangerous of which was a Dominguez free-kick from 25 yard out in 56th minute that flew right to Scurry.

Still, the Americans were always in control of the match, out-shooting Mexico 9-5, and picked up their sixth consecutive shutout of 2004.  The USA has not allowed a goal in 589 minutes and U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry earned the 68th shutout of her career while making three saves.  The match, played in swirling winds, was a hampered by 38 fouls, 22 for Mexico and 16 for the USA.

"It's very difficult to play on a surface as hard as this," said Heinrichs.  "It's hard on the body. So anytime you play a tournament with very few days rest you're going to have some level of fatigue.  Combine that with the fact that the U.S. team plays a high-energy style.  We work very hard to get forward and on defense.  This was our third game in fives days, and that's pretty tough.  But credit Mexico for their defensive effort.  They came out and played to win today."

Canada and Costa Rica play tomorrow at 8 p.m. CT at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia to determine first place in Group A.  As the winner of Group B, the USA will play the second place team in Group A in its semifinal on Wednesday March 3, at 2:30 p.m. CT.  Fans can follow the action live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.

"Both teams are pretty dynamic," said Wambach of Canada and Costa Rica.  "Canada is top-four team in the world right now, but whatever opponent we face, we're going to be ready.  This is what we do for a living, and this is what we love to do, and I think we'll come out in the semifinal prepared and focused on earning a berth in the Olympics."

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up:       USA vs. Mexico
Competition:  CONCACAF Final Round Women's Olympic Qualifying
Venue:           Estadio Nacional; San Jose, Costa Rica
Date:             Feb. 29, 2004; Kickoff - 3:00 p.m. CT
Attendance:   3,000
Weather:       Cool, breezy - 72 degrees 

Scoring Summary:
                           1    2     F
USA                    2    0     2
MEX                    0    0     0

USA - Own Goal (Maria Castillo)        10th minute.
USA - Abby Wambach (Kristine Lilly) 26.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 3-Christie Rampone (2-Heather Mitts, 76), 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Markgraf; 11-Julie Foudy - C, 7-Shannon Boxx, 16-Lindsay Tarpley (8-Shannon MacMillan, 60), 13-Kristine Lilly; 20-Abby Wambach (19-Angela Hucles, 70), 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs not used: 5-Leslie Osborne, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 10-Aly Wagner, 12-Cindy Parlow, 17-Heather O'Reilly, 18-Siri Mullinix.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs

MEX: 1-Jennifer Molina, 2-Elizabeth Gomez, 3-Rubi Sandoval, 4-Monica Gonzalez - C, 5-Maria Castillo; 6-Monica Vergara, 18-Teresa Worbis, 19-Alma Martinez (15-Luz Saucedo, 54); 9-Maribel Dominguez (7-Juana Lopez, 78), 10-Iris Mora (16-Nadia Hernandez, 81), 11-Patricia Perez. 
Subs not used: 8-Fatima Leyva, 12-Pamela Tajonar, 13-Laura Maravillas, 14-Jenny Ruiz, 17-Rebecca Bazan, 20-Alba Garcia.
Head Coach: Leonardo Cuellar

Statistical Summary:      
USA/MEX
Shots: 9/5
Shots on Goal: 7/3
Saves: 3/5
Corner Kicks: 7/1
Fouls: 16/22
Offside: 5/1

Misconduct Summary:
MEX - Iris Mora (caution) 27th minute.

Officials:
Referee:  Dianne Ferreira-James (GUY)
Assistant Referee: Malena Lopez (CRC)
Assistant Referee: Paulette Riley (JAM)
4th Official: Jill Proctor (CAN)

CONCACAF FINALROUND WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING STANDINGS

Group A
Team   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA   GD
CAN     2    0   0     6     12      0    +12
CRC     2    0   0     6      7       1    +6
JAM     0    2   0     0      0       7     -7
PAN     0    2   0     0     1       12   -11

Group B
Team   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA   GD
USA     3    0   0    9       17     0    +17
MEX     2    1   0    6       13     3    +10
TRI       1    2   0    3        7     17   -10
HTI       0    3   0    0        2     19   -17

CONCACAF FINALROUND
WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING RESULTS

Wednesday, February 25
Mexico 5, Haiti 0
USA 7, Trinidad & Tobago 0

Thursday, February 26
Canada 6, Jamaica 0
Costa Rica 6, Panama 1

Friday, February 27
Mexico 8, Trinidad & Tobago 1
USA 8, Haiti 0

Saturday, February 28
Canada 6, Panama 0
Costa Rica 1, Jamaica 0

Sunday, February 29
Trinidad & Tobago 6, Haiti 2
USA 2, México 0

Monday, March 1
Jamaica vs. Panama Eladio Rosabal Cordero (6:00 p.m. CT)
Costa Rica vs. Canada Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8:00 p.m. CT)

Wednesday, March 3
Semifinal #1 (Canada/Costa Rica vs. Mexico) Nacional (12:00 Noon CT)
Semifinal #2 (USA vs. Canada/Costa Rica) Nacional (2:30 p.m. CT)

Friday, March 5
Third-Place Eladio Rosabal Cordero (6:00 p.m. CT)
Final Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8:00 p.m. CT)

CONCACAF FINALROUND
WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING SCORERS

Player        Goals
Maribel Dominguez (MEX) 5
Patricia Perez (MEX) 5
Aysha Jamani (CAN) 4
Shannon Boxx (USA) 3
Cindy Parlow (USA)       3
Christine Sinclair (CAN) 3
Natalie Des Vignes (TRI) 3
Abby Wambach (USA) 3
Megen Chavez (CRC) 3
Mia Hamm (USA)       2
Christine Latham (CAN) 2
Kristine Lilly (USA)       1
Aly Wagner (USA)       1
Shannon MacMillan (USA) 1
Lindsay Tarpley (USA) 1
Charmaine Hooper (CAN) 1
Carmelina Moscato (CAN) 1
Andrea Neil (CAN)       1
Ana Gabriel Campos (CRC) 1
Gabriela Trujillo (CRC) 1
Cindy Rodriguez (CRC) 1
Shirley Cruz (CRC)       1
Maritzenia Bedoya (PAN) 1
Iris Mora (MEX)       1
Jauna Lopez (MEX)       1
Alma Martinez (MEX) 1
Tasha St. Louis (TRI) 1
Leslie Ann James (TRI) 1
Maylee Attin-Johnson (TRI) 1
Fernande Hilaire (TRI) 1
Sehrline Ridore (HAI) 1
Raeann Elder (HAI)       1
Own Goal             2

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