Hamm scored her 107th goal last Sunday against Holland at Soldier Field in Chicago, moving into a tie with long-retired Italian legend Elisabetta Vignotto on the all-time scoring list. Goal number 108 came from a dynamic combination of five one-touch passes with the score tied at 0-0 and the final seconds ticking away in the first half.
The sequence started when Michelle Akers lofted a ball to Hamm about 40 yards from the goal. Hamm nodded the ball down with her head to Kristine Lilly, who popped a pass to Cindy Parlow at the top of the penalty box. Parlow held her defender off and laid the ball into the path of the cutting Hamm. She took a touch as she burst into the right side of the penalty box, fought off a defender and then drove the ball through the legs of Brazilian goalkeeper Didi from 10 yards out to make history.
The U.S. bench emptied onto the field to congratulate Hamm while team captain Carla Overbeck retrieved the ball and presented it to her teammate of 11 years.
"It was special to get the record on such a great team goal," said Hamm, who played in her 172nd international match. "We are really starting to feel the excitement building for the Word Cup. We're getting fitter, our confidence is growing and we are fine-tuning the small parts of our game. But there are so many good teams in the tournament and you saw that tonight. It will be a very difficult road to the final."
The match saw hard tackling from both teams which drew Brazil four yellow cards and one ejection, as Raquel was tossed in the waning moments of the game for angrily protesting a call from referee Ali Saheli. After the final whistle, several Brazilian players charged Saheli and had to be restrained by the assistant referees and Brazilian team officials.
Despite the physical nature of the match, both teams produced entertaining soccer worthy of their stature as Women's World Cup favorites. While the USA had more of the game territorially, both teams had numerous dangerous chances as the Americans out-shot Brazil by a slim 18-15 margin.
Brazil's speedy and deceptive forwards of Maycon and Katia ran continually at the U.S. defense, forcing American goalkeeper Briana Scurry into her busiest game in recent memory. Scurry made 10 saves, denying Katia twice on spectacular saves, one coming in the first half as she snuffed her close range shot and again in the 56th minute when she guided her long-range blast over the top of the goal.
The second goal came off a corner kick in the 72nd minute as Tiffeny Milbrett bent her cross into the middle. The ball flew over several leaping players to Lilly, who knocked it in off her knee and into the right corner for her 72nd international goal, moving her into sixth place on the world's all-time scoring list.
The USA closed the door in the 87th minute on a controversial play. After a ball was kicked into the stands, the U.S. took a quick throw-in with a second ball just seconds before the first ball was thrown from the stands back onto the field, causing several Brazilian players to pause. Just as the referee grabbed the ball and tossed it back to the sidelines, Brandi Chastain launched a cross to the far post, where Kristine Lilly headed it back into the middle to Milbrett, who slammed her shot into the net on a full volley from close range. The Brazilians protested vehemently, which bubbled over into Raquel's ejection minutes later.
"Brazil is great athletically, very gifted with the ball and plays with a lot of bite," said DiCicco. "As we expected, they are a great team, very sophisticated and are capable of winning the Women's World Cup. We got a couple of breaks, like the last goal, but everyone knows that you have to play until the whistle blows."
DiCicco went with his starters for the full 90 minutes for the first time in 106 international matches that he has coached.
"I thought we got better as the game progressed," added DiCicco. "Our defense really picked it up and their only real opportunities in the second half came from distance. Carla Overbeck and Kate Sobrero played solid games in the middle to deny their talented dribblers. We really didn't find a rhythm until we started possessing the ball in the second half."
The U.S. team will take a week off before traveling to the West Coast on June 1 to prepare for two matches in Portland, Ore, its final contests on the NIKE Road to Pasadena before beginning Women's World Cup play on June 19 against Denmark at Giants Stadium. The USA will play a closed-door match vs. Australia on June 3 at the NIKE Campus in Beaverton, Ore. and the June 6th "Send-Off" Game against Canada at Civic Stadium (Kickoff is 11 a.m. PT/2p.m. ET Live on ABC).
1999 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Brazil National Team|
|Competition:||NIKE Road to Pasadena / International Friendly|
|Venue:||Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)|
|Date:||May 22, 1999 - Kickoff 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||Warm, humid -- 78 degrees|
USA - Mia Hamm, (Cindy Parlow), 45,
USA - Kristine Lilly, (Tiffeny Milbrett), 72,
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Kristine Lilly), 87.
USA - 1-Briana Scurry, 4-Carla Overbeck, 20-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain, 14-Joy Fawcett, 10-Michelle Akers, 11-Julie Foudy, 13-Kristine Lilly, 12-Cindy Parlow, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 9-Mia Hamm.
BRA - 1-Didi, 2-Nene, 3-Elane, 4-Tania, 13-Paty (16-Marisa, 55th), 5-Cidinha, 8-Formiga, 10-Sissi, 11-Suzana (15-Raquel, 80th), 7-Maycon (17-Pretinha, 63rd), 9-Katia.
|Joy Fawcett (caution)||64,|
|Michelle Akers (caution)||76,|