PARIS (Thursday, May 20, 2004) - U.S. Women's National Team standouts Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx both played all 90 minutes for the FIFA Women's World Stars in an exhibition match at Stade de France in Paris today as the World Stars came from behind to record a 3-2 victory over reigning Women's World Cup champion Germany.
Boxx captained the World Stars, and Nigerian striker "Marvelous" Mercy Akide scored the winning goal in the first match of an historic doubleheader commemorating FIFA's Centennial Celebration that also featured the men's national teams of Brazil vs. France in the second game.
German superstars Maren Meinert and Bettina Wiegmann came out of retirement for the match.
Wambach created the first goal just 15 minutes into the game with a nifty dribbling run from midfield before springing Sweden's Malin Mostrom behind the defense with a perfect pass. Mostrom, Sweden's captain, hit her shot off the hands of German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg and into the net from 15 yards out.
German striker Birgit Prinz equalized in the 26th minute, hammering a clinical shot across the goal into the lower left corner from 16 yards out. Germany took the lead just before halftime as Kerstin Garefrekes finished a quick German counterattack, knocking a cross in from close range to send her team into the break with a 2-1 advantage.
The insertion of French striker Marinette Pichon was the difference in the second half. She set up both the equalizer and the winning goal as the stadium began to fill for the second match. The first came just three minutes into the second half as Wambach's hard shot from the right side of the penalty area was blocked and bounced to the Frenchwoman on the top of the penalty area on the left side. She collected cleanly, sidestepped a German defender and slipped the ball behind the defense to Swedish forward Victoria Svensson. The Silver Ball winner at the 2003 Women's World Cup beautifully spun her shot into the upper right corner from 16 yards out as the Swedes tallied their second goal of the match and perhaps a small bit of redemption for Germany's 2-1 victory in the 2003 Women's World Cup Final.
The winning goal came in the 70th minute as a bit of Pichon magic allowed her to work herself free in the left side of the penalty area. Her shot was off the mark, and would have rolled wide right, but the crashing Akide powered the rolling ball into the net at the far post from four yards out past sprawling German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer.
Swedish goalkeeper Caroline Johnsson was injured early in the match after Prinz crashed into her chasing a high ball. She was replaced by Ghanaian Memunatu Sulemana, who went the rest of the way and made several good saves. Boxx had three good chances to score during the match, sending a header into the side netting off a free-kick in just the fifth minute. She just missed with a volley off a free kick in the 21st minute, and hammered another volley just wide in the 56th.
Wambach switched from attack to defense after the break, playing left back for almost the entire second half. She also operated a bit in the midfield in the first half for the World Stars. Both U.S. players return to the United States this weekend and resume Olympic Residency Training Camp on Monday with the U.S. team at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif.