PASADENA, Calif. (Sunday, October 27, 2002) – The U.S. Women’s National Team opened the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, the qualifying tournament for the 2003 Women’s World Cup, with a solid 3-0 victory over Mexico at the Rose Bowl. Aly Wagner, Cindy Parlow and Shannon MacMillan scored for the U.S. as it took control of Group 1 in this eight-team tournament, which will send its top two finishers to the 4th Women’s World Cup next year in China.
The USA possessed the ball well on a bumpy field and wore down a committed Mexican team over the 90 minutes, playing almost the entire match in the Mexican half as the Tricolores stayed compact in a tight defense that was marshaled by sweeper Monica Gonzales of the Boston Breakers.
“I’m pleased with the way we played in the first half even though we created fewer chances, and then of course, the opposite was true in the second half when we created chances, but actually didn’t play as well,” said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. “Our game fell apart a little bit and one of the last things I said to the team tonight was that we certainly left the door open for a better performance on Tuesday.”
The USA opened the scoring in just the fifth minute as Tiffany Roberts did well to cross from the right side. The ball bounced around in the penalty area to Kristine Lilly, who dropped a short pass to Wagner at the top of the penalty area. The Santa Clara University senior smacked the bouncing ball first-time across the goal and into the lower left corner from 19 yards out, skidding the well-struck shot past Mexican goalkeeper Jennifer Molina.
The USA had several quality chances before it got the second goal, the first coming in the 19th minute when Julie Foudy hit the right post with a header off a Hamm cross. Hamm almost set up Lilly in the 35th minute, but her diving header flew wide left. In the 40th minute off a free kick from the right side, Hamm chipped the ball into the penalty area and Parlow met it on the slide, but the ball bounced up, hit the top of the cross bar and rolled out of bounds. Soon after, Reddick and Lilly played a great one-two in the left side of the penalty area and Reddick drove a cross to the far post, but Hamm could not quite reach it, and smashed her half-volley into the side netting.
The USA finally broke through in the 42nd minute as Wagner played Hamm behind the defense on the right side with a great slip pass. Hamm gathered herself and struck a hard cross to the near post, where the charging Lilly drew Molina and defender Martha Moore, but the ball skipped past all of them to Parlow, who scored perhaps the easiest goal of her career, touching the ball into the open net from two yards out. It was Parlow’s 53rd international goal, tying her with legend Carin Gabarra for fifth on all-time goals list. Parlow has played 112 games for the national team while Gabarra scored her 53 goals in 117 matches.
It was the first match at Rose Bowl for the U.S. women since the historic Women’s World Cup Final on July 10, 1999 and the USA’s first Women’s World Cup qualifying match since Aug. 21, 1994, when the U.S. earned its berth to the 1995 Women’s World Cup in Sweden. As host, the USA qualified automatically for the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
Mexico took only two shots on the night, the first in the 39th minute, a strike from 30 yards out that was easily saved by Briana Scurry. The second was a volley by Maribel Dominguez late the game that was not close to the net.
Angela Hucles came on for Roberts at halftime and played a great 45 minutes on both sides of the ball, but was denied two goals by Molina. In the 59th minute, Hucles ripped shot with her left foot from the top of the penalty area that took a deflection, but Molina scrambled to turn the ball around the right post. In the 89th minute, Hucles bounced a dangerous header at goal off a cross from the left side, but once again Molina was there, batting the ball away for a corner kick. Molina, stepping in for usual Mexican #1 Linnea Quinones of the San Jose CyberRays, had a fine match, making nine saves and came up big in the 69th minute when she pushed a heavy shot from Shannon MacMillan wide right. She also denied MacMillan in the 77th, somehow redirecting a shot that had whizzed through goalmouth traffic.
A deflected shot by Lilly hit the right post in the 75th minute, but MacMillan and Lilly would finally get their rewards in the third minute of stoppage time, as Lilly fired a wicked shot from outside penalty area on the left side. Molina, who had turned everything away from danger thus far, finally made a mistake, saving the shot with an extended dive, but spilled the ball in front of the net and the framing MacMillan buried it the open net from a sharp angle.
“In the second half, we created a lot more chances and we need to finish our opportunities, but you have to look at the positives,” said U.S forward Mia Hamm. “We got three points, we got three goals against a very good Mexican team and this is just like a World Cup tournament and that’s the way you have to approach it. Losing attractively in a tournament like this doesn’t help you, it doesn’t get you the points. So we are happy with the three points, but we know we have to play better to win this tournament.”
While Mexico rarely crossed midfield in the second half, the U.S. defense, and particularly Joy Fawcett, did have to run down several counter attacks as the game got away from the Americans just a bit. Despite some skillfull play throughout the match, the Mexicans, who now turn their attention to finishing second in the group and the berth in the semifinals that comes with it, could not break through the U.S. back line.
“It was not such a satisfying result for us,” said Heinrichs. “We felt the game got a little reckless in the second half, and while we had chances, we didn’t finish them. What you see in Mexico is every time we play them, they come back with a little more determination, a little more grit, more organization and probably a little more optimism about what they can create offensively.”
In the first game of the doubleheader and the first match of the tournament, Panama defeat Trinidad &Tobago, 4-2, in a wild end-to-end match. T&T played most of the game with 10 players as Leslie-Ann James got a red card in the 38th minute for an off-the-ball incident following the second Panama goal and forced her team to play short-handed for the rest of the match. Amarelis DeMera was the difference for Panama, scoring three goals on three great strikes to put the game away. All four teams will play again on Tuesday night in Fullerton as the USA takes on T&T at 7 p.m., followed by Panama vs. Mexico at 9 p.m. Both matches will be televised live on Fox Sports World, and the U.S. match will be availabe via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants: United States Women's National Team vs. Mexico
Competition: 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup – Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament
Venue: The Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Date: Oct. 27, 2002; Kickoff – 3:00 p.m. (PT)
Weather: Cool, cloudy– 68degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
United States 2 - 1 - 3
Mexico 0 - 0 - 0
USA – Aly Wagner (Kristine Lilly), 5.
USA – Cindy Parlow (Mia Hamm), 42.
USA – Shannon MacMillan (Kristine Lilly), 93+.
USA - 1-Briana Scurry; 15-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain, 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Cat Reddick; 5-Tiffany Roberts (3-Angela
Hucles, 46), 13-Kristine Lilly, 11-Julie Foudy (capt.), 10-Aly Wagner, 9-Mia Hamm (7-Heather O’Reilly, 78), 12-Cindy Parlow (8-Shannon MacMillan, 63).
Subs not used: 2-Lorrie Fair, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 17-Jenny Benson, 18-LaKeysia Beene.
MEX - 1-Jennifer Molina, 2-Martha Moore, 3-Monica Gonzales, 12-Susana Mora (16-Guadalupe Worbis, 75), 4-Elizabeth Gomez, 6-Fatima Leyva, 7-Dioselina Valderrama, 11-Paty Perez, 8-Monica Gerardo (5-Monica Vergara, 68), 9-Maribel Dominguez, 10-Iris Mora (17-Yanet Antunez, 46).
Subs not used: 13-Jessica Romero, 15-Janeth Siordia, 18-Pamela Tajonar.
Statistical Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 25 / 2
Saves: 1 / 9
Corner Kicks: 9 / 0
Fouls: 7 / 22
Offside: 3 / 0
MEX – Valderrama (caution), 73.
Referee: Sonia Denoncourt (CAN)
Asst. Referee: Jackeline Saez (PAN)
Asst. Referee: Paulette Riley (JAM)
4th Official: Dianne Ferreira-James (GUY)