Milbrett, who scored the winning goal against Brazil in the championship game of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup on July 3, provided the match-winner in the 59th minute on a solo slalom through the Norwegian defense. Milbrett received a pass about 40 yards from the goal and initially let the ball run away from her, then recovered to win it on a tackle and used pure speed to round a defender and tuck the ball into the left corner from 12 yards out.
A light rain painted a cool mist over the field at the start of the match, making for slippery conditions for the predictably combative USA-Norway clash. A somewhat heavy-legged U.S. team showed the effects of international travel after arriving in Europe just three days ago, but gutted out the victory with tough and organized defense, and a moment of inspiration from Milbrett.
"Over the years, Norway has won more than we have, so to win against Norway is always a good thing for the United States," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "But we lacked the intensity today that we had in the Gold Cup Final. For as many road trips that we've had and hotels we've stayed in, for us to have a lack of intensity and still win, is a really great thing for us."
It was the second straight victory for the U.S. women over Norway after dropping two matches to their arch-rivals in February in Florida. The USA also won 1-0 in the Algarve Cup Final in Portugal last March and now have moved within one game of equaling the all-time series, which currently stands at 12-13-1. Norway is the only team in the world with an all-time winning record against the U.S. women, but the Americans will get a chance to rectify the situation when it travels to Norway for two matches after this tournament. The teams will also meet in the opening game of the 2000 Olympic Games on Sept. 14 in Melbourne, Australia.
Forward Mia Hamm added another milestone to her glorious career as she played in her 200th match for the United States. Hamm joins teammate Kristine Lilly as the only two players, men or women, to play in 200 international matches. Hamm was given the honor of captaining the team and received the game ball from her teammates after the match.
"Of course we want to win every game, but I think if you ask either team, the game we want to win is in the Olympics," said Hamm.
The USA could have gone ahead just three minutes into the match, when Brandi Chastain whipped in a cross from left side that flashed by Milbrett and skipped to Lilly, but her sizzling volley drew a spectacular flying save from Norwegian goalkeeper Bente Nordby.
While the USA was the more effective team throughout the match, Norway did create a handful of quality chances, and the Scandinavians answered back in the 6th minute. Dagny Mellgren ran onto a long ball over the U.S. defense and engaged in a footrace with Kate Sobrero, but the U.S. defender ran her down and forced a shot over the crossbar.
Norway showed a bit more possession soccer than in years past, as midfielder Hege Riise ran the attack and showed why she is one of the best midfielders in the world, repeatedly hitting probing balls aimed at talented forwards Mellgren and Marianne Pettersen
In the 18th minute, a goal mouth scramble after a Norwegian corner kick caused momentary danger, but the U.S. managed to clear the ball away. In the 24th minute, U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix dove to knock down a curling free-kick from Riise. Two minutes later, Norway created what was perhaps its best chance, as Pettersen turned well toward goal after receiving a pass in middle, but Mullinix rushed out to cut down the angle and her sliced shot nicked the outside of left post on its was to a goal kick.
Milbrett provided some foreshadowing just before halftime when she busted through the defense, and rounded Nordby, but took the ball too wide and shot hard into the side netting as she fell out of bounds.
Norway had just two shots in the second half, but both were near goals. Cindy Parlow's started a sequence of opportunities at the beginning of the second half, forcing Nordby into a diving save in the 48th minute on a drive from distance. Pettersen took advantage of a silver of an opportunity in the 50th minute after running onto a long ball behind the U.S. defense, but shot high from a steep angle as the U.S. defenders closed hard.
In the 54th minute, Christie Pearce let a ball bounce under her foot, but showed lightning-quick recovering speed as she slid to block the shot of substitute Solveig Gulbrandsen. Nordby came up huge on Lilly again in the 74th minute, fully extending to palm a bending shot wide of the post after Lilly had curled a blast from outside the box which had eyes for the left corner.
Norway turned up pressure during the last 15 minutes against the tiring U.S. side that was intent on protecting its lead. The USA was solid in winning balls on ground and in air as the back line of Joy Fawcett, Sobrero, Pearce and Danielle Slaton (who came on for Chastain at halftime) held tough. Sobrero played the match wearing a plastic mask after breaking her nose in an indoor training match just before departing for Germany. Mullinix, who once again was aggressive off her line in patrolling the space behind the U.S. defense, picked up her 11th shutout of 2000, one short of a U.S. record for a calendar year.
"It was a little bit of a sluggish game," said Milbrett, who scored her 77th international goal. "Both teams didn't make the quickest decisions out there, especially in the first half, but then we got a goal and after that, we really tried to protect our lead."
The USA will face China in Gottingen on Wednesday, July 19, in its second match of the tournament, staged in conjunction with celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the German Football Federation (DFB). China defeated Germany, 3-1, in a match much closer than the score indicated. Jin Yan scored against the run of play in the 25th minute after running onto a long pass and popping her shot over onrushing goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg. Inka Grings tied the match in the 30th minute on solo effort, but two goals in two minutes in the second half from Qui Haiyan sealed Germany's fate.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Norway National Team|
|Competition:||DFB Jubilee Tournament|
|Venue:||Piepenbrock Stadium (Osnabruck, Germany)|
|Date:||July 16, 2000 - Kickoff 2:30 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET)|
|Weather:||58 degrees - Cool, cloudy, light rain|
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Joy Fawcett), 59.
USA - 26-Siri Mullinix, 3-Christie Pearce, 14-Joy Fawcett, 20-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain (19-Danielle Slaton, 46th), 13-Kristine Lilly, 2-Lorrie Fair (5-Nikki Serlenga, 46th), 11-Julie Foudy, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 12-Cindy Parlow (8-Shannon MacMillan, 63rd), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 9-Mia Hamm (Capt.).
NOR - 1-Bente Nordby, 3-Goril Kringen (Capt.) (17-Gro Espeseth, 63rd), 5-Bente Kvitland (15-Silje Jorgensen, 46th), 2-Brit Sandaune, 4-Anne Tonnessen, 7-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 8-Monica Knudsen (Unni Lehn, 63rd), 9-Anita Rapp (16-Margunn Haugenes, 52nd), 6-Hege Riise, 14-Dagny Melgren, 11-Marianne Pettersen.
|Monica Knudsen (caution)||62.|
|DFB Jubilee Tournament Standings|
|China||1||1||0||0||3||1||3 (+2 GD)|
|United States||1||1||0||0||1||0||3 (+1 GD)|
|Norway||1||0||1||0||0||1||0 (-1 GD)|
|Germany||1||0||1||0||1||3||0 (-2 GD)|
China 3, Germany 1
USA 1, Norway 0
Germany vs. Norway
USA vs. China
China vs. Norway
USa vs. Germany
|DFB Jubilee Tournament Leading Goal Scorers|