As both teams had beaten Trinidad & Tobago, 11-0, and Costa Rica, 8-0, earlier in the tournament, the draw knotted the teams in each of the tie-breaking criteria -- total points, head-to-head result, goal difference and goals scored -- and a coin flip was necessary to decide the top team in Group A. The coin was flipped immediately after the match on the field. Brazil captain Sissi called tails, it came up heads, and the Americans took first place in the group. The USA will now face the second-place team in Group B, likely Canada, in the semifinals on Saturday, July 1, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The USA will play the second match of the doubleheader at 8 p.m. ET live on ESPN. The first semifinal kicks off at 5:00 p.m. and should feature likely Group B winner China against Brazil.
"I've never seen it happen before," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs of the coin flip. "We've heard about it and talked about it, but the ironic thing is to work so hard for 90 minutes and then have it come down to a flip of the thumb."
The match was played at a furious pace on a slick field made moist by afternoon thunder-showers. The U.S. defense did a fine job of containing a talented Brazilian strike force that featured forwards Roseli and Katia, both anxious to run onto service from midfield maestro Sissi. Still, the Brazilian attack consisted mostly of long balls over the U.S. defense that were run down by fast and organized back line of Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero and Brandi Chastain.
What got through, mostly shots from distance, were saved easily by goalkeeper Siri Mullinix, who played a spectacular overall game to earn her 9th shutout of 2000.
"The soccer community that is following the women's game in USA needs to understand that the gap is closing," said Heinrichs. "Even from 1996 to 1999, all these countries are emerging as soccer powers. Brazil has made great strides in recent years. Nigeria, China, Germany, Norway and Sweden are all excellent teams. Canada is getting some great results this year against all of the best teams in the world. We understand that evolution and want try to continue to widen the gap, but while we are not pleased with the result, we are pleased to come out on the field and play a great team like Brazil."
It was a night of near misses for the U.S. women as Lilly blocked a Brazil clearance inside the penalty box in the 11th minute and ran down the bouncing ball just outside the left goalpost. But her momentum carried her too far past the post, and she couldn't recover to stuff the ball in the open net as Andreia scrambled back to smother.
The U.S. had a golden chance in the 14th minute as Chastain's long ball into the box was poorly cleared by Monica right to Tiffeny Milbrett, but her shot from 12 yards out was well-saved by Andreia with a dive to her left.
In the 23rd minute Sissi popped pass over the top of the defense to the streaking Roseli, but Mullinix met her at the top of the box and slid to knock the ball away. It was one of numerous plays in the match where Mullinix was quick off her line to clear away through balls.
"Knowing what kind of team Brazil is, I prepared myself to be able to play high and win those through balls," said Mullinix. "I played that way in college, so I'm used to that style, and with each game I get more confidence."
In stoppage time of the first half, Lilly beat Monica to the inside on the left side of the penalty box and drilled a shot that Andreia got a glove on to push off the cross bar. The ball rebounded down on the goal line and was cleared.
At the beginning of the second half, Pearce powered through the defense and played a one-two with Cindy Parlow on the right side of the penalty box, but her left-footed shot found the outside of the goal, hitting the side netting. Both Parlow and Milbrett hit hard shots early in the half, but both went right to Andreia, who proved to be a new and valuable talent in the Brazilian defense while playing in just her second international match.
Lilly was all over field for the USA on the night, taking six of the 18 total shots. Her powerful blast in the 80th minute when just over the top. In the 82nd minute, Mullinix came up huge, making a save with her legs on a shot Katia ripped from a sharp angle.
"Watching Siri's development over the last four months has been great for me," added Heinrichs. "If you invest in players and let them play, they will grow. A player such as Siri Mullinix has made a marvelous improvement with her opportunity and has stepped through the door. In some ways, she's kicking the door wide open. She knows she had a critical impact tonight and that our defenders were thankful that she was there so many times."
The USA had one last chance to win in the waning seconds when Julie Foudy was undercut by Formiga in the penalty box while jumping for a header. Lilly stepped up, but Andreia dove to her left and snagged the shot to preserve the tie. She could do nothing about the coin flip.
Heinrichs went the entire way with the same 11 players. Brazil made just one substitute.
"Everyone out there was playing hard and making a great contribution to the game," added Heinrichs. "They were playing in a groove and at halftime we were discussing if we wanted to make a change or change the system, but when it came right down to it, if it's not broken, don't fix it. We were creating plenty of chances, we felt great about our system and I feel like we played a great game."
It was the first time in U.S. Women's National Team history that a group winner in a tournament was decided on a coin flip.
"They said, Sissi, you choose," said U.S. captain Foudy of the coin toss. "She picked tails, it was heads, and we just walked away. I mean, how do you celebrate a coin toss?"
Still, when the U.S. coin toss victory was announced over the stadium public address, the crowd of 16,386 roared its approval. The USA will be back at Foxboro Stadium, on Monday, July 3, to play in either the 3rd place match or the championship game.
The USA will travel back to Louisville tomorrow and train in the afternoon. The U.S. team will also train on Thursday morning, but has Friday off before playing its semifinal on Saturday.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Brazil National Team|
|Competition:||CONCACAF Gold Cup 2000|
|Venue:||Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)|
|Date:||June 27, 2000 - Kickoff 8 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||80 degrees - Wet, Humid|
USA - 26-Siri Mullinix, 3-Christie Pearce, 14-Joy Fawcett, 20-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain, 2-Lorrie Fair, 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.), 13-Kristine Lilly, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 12-Cindy Parlow, 9-Mia Hamm.
BRA - 22-Andreia, 2-Simone Gomes, 4-Juliana, 20-Monica, 5-Daniela Alves, 6-Tania, 7-Cidinha, 8-Formiga, 9-Katia, 10-Sissi (Capt.), 24-Roseli (11-Nildinha, 69th).
|2000 Gold Cup Standings|
|*USA||3||2||0||1||19||0||7 (+19 GD)|
|*Brazil||3||2||0||1||19||0||7 (+19 GD)|
|Costa Rica||3||0||2||1||2||18||1 (-16 GD)|
|Trinidad & Tobago||3||0||2||1||2||24||1 (-22 GD)|
|*U.S. and Brazil advance to semifinals; U.S. is top seed in group as a result of coin toss in their favor following match on 6/27.|
June 23 - Hershey, Pa.
Brazil 8, Costa Rica 0
USA 11, Trinidad & Tobago 0
June 25 - Louisville, Ky.
Brazil 11, Trinidad & Tobago 0
USA 8 vs. Costa Rica 0
June 27 - Foxboro, Mass.
Costa Rica 2, Trinidad & Tobago 2
USA 0, Brazil 0
|2000 Gold Cup Standings|
|China||2||2||0||0||17||2||6 (+15 GD)|
|Mexico||2||1||1||0||10||4||3 (+6 GD)|
|Canada||2||1||1||0||6||6||3 (0 GD)|
|Guatemala||2||0||2||0||0||21||0 (-21 GD)|
June 24 - Foxboro, Mass.
China 14, Guatemala 0
Mexico 4, Mexico 3
June 26 - Hershey, Pa.
Mexico 7, Guatemala 0
China 3, Canada 2
June 28 - Louisville, Ky.
Guatemala vs. Canada
China vs. Mexico
July 1 - Louisville, Ky. (Gold Cup Semifinals)
Group B Winner vs. Brazil -- 5:00 p.m. ET
USA vs. Group B Runner-Up -- 8:00 p.m. ET
July 3 - Boston, Mass. (Gold Cup Final)
Gold Cup 3rd Place Match -- 6:30 p.m. ET
Gold Cup Championship Game -- 9:00 p.m. ET
|Gold Cup Leading Goal Scorers|
|Jacqueline Alvarez||Costa Rica||1|
|Xiomara Briceno||Costa Rica||1|
|Delia De Silva||Trinidad & Tobago||1|
|Natalia des Vignes||Trinidad & Tobago||1|