The match was the last of 1998 for the U.S. women before they head into residency training camp in Orlando, Fla., beginning on Jan. 4. The USA will engage in five months of intense preparation for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup next summer.
The game began with the thermometer at 36 degrees as snow dusted Fresno for the first time in 37 years. The Americans shook off the cold and a scrappy Ukraine team to score twice in the first half and three times in the second.
The USA opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Julie Foudy sliced a pass through three defenders to Shannon MacMillan on the left wing. MacMillan one-touched a pass to Tiffeny Milbrett in the middle of the penalty box and the U.S. forward collected the ball, then slid to knock it into the left corner for her 47th international goal.
Kristine Lilly came inches away from scoring a spectacular goal in the 27th minute, running onto a poorly headed clearance and hit a blistering falling side-volley from 19 yards out that was pushed just clear of the goal with a fingertip save by Veronika Shulga, Ukraine's 17-year old goalkeeper.
Foudy got her first goal in the 28th minute when she took a pass from defender Kate Sobrero, spun towards the net, side-stepped a defender with a nifty move and smacked a driven, fading shot off the right goal post from 23 yards out. Foudy added her second goal in the 50th minute when she ran onto Kristine Lilly's cross from the right wing that sailed all the way over Shulga to the far post. Foudy tapped her volley into the net from one yard out.
The 27-year old Stanford product saved the best for last, completing the trick two minutes later when she took a pass from Tisha Venturini, once again pivoted toward goal, and cracked her shot straight into the upper right corner from 19 yards out.
"Scoring three goals is unheard of for me," said Foudy, the USA's Snickers Player of the Game who upped her international goal total to 27. "I got a great pass on the first goal and just cracked it. There was a lot of space in the midfield and I turned and hit it well. Usually those shots hit the post and bounce out for me, but this one went in. I was more shocked than anyone else."
Debbie Keller added the final goal in the 72nd minute after 18-year old Susan Bush, playing in just her second game for the national team, set her up in front of the goal for a seven-yard shot into the left corner.
The win was the 22nd of the year for the USA, a team record, which finishes 1998 at 22-1-2. The one loss also tied the record for fewest losses in a year.
U.S. Head Coach Tony DiCicco was pleased with his team's performance as the U.S. heads into the most important year in its history. "We played a solid match overall and dominated at both ends of the field," said DiCicco, whose team out-shot Ukraine 21-2. "But we have much work to do in residency camp to prepare to meet our highest goals, and that's winning the 1999 World Cup. It was good to get a game to keep our veterans sharp and I was pleased with your younger players in training this week, especially Susan Bush, who got her first national team point today."
The USA has now gone unbeaten on American soil in 44 straight matches, a team record. The American women shutout 17 teams this year and recorded wins against world powers Germany, China and Norway, the other three seeded teams for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
U.S. star Mia Hamm did not score against Ukraine, but sits at 101 career goals. 1999 should see her break the world scoring record held by the long-retired Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy, who scored 108 goals in a career that spanned the 1970s. Italian Carolina Morace, with 105 career goals, is second on the all-time goal-scoring list, but is also retired. Hamm finishes 1998 with 20 goals and 20 assists in 21 matches.
The USA's next match is Jan. 30 against Portugal at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Kickoff is 2:00 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on ESPN. The USA will play the FIFA World Stars on Feb. 14, 1999, at Spartan Stadium in San Jose in conjunction with the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Final Draw, which will be conducted at halftime of the game. An extensive 1999 schedule to prepare the USA for the Women's World Cup will be announced in January.
1998 U.S. Women's National Team Game Report
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Ukraine National Team|
|Venue:||Jim Sweeny Field -- Bulldog Stadium -- Fresno State University|
|Date:||December 20, 1998 - kickoff 1:00 p.m. (PT)|
|Weather:||Cold, blustery -- 38 degrees|
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Shannon MacMillan), 20,
USA - Julie Foudy, (Kate Sobrero), 28,
USA - Julie Foudy, (Kristine Lilly), 50,
USA - Julie Foudy, (Tisha Venturini), 52,
USA - Debbie Keller, (Susan Bush), 72.
USA - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Kate Sobrero, Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain (Justi Baumgardt, 53), Julie Foudy (Sara Whalen, 59), Kristine Lilly (Debbie Keller, 53), Tiffeny Milbrett (Tisha Venturini, 46), Shannon MacMillan, Mia Hamm (Susan Bush, 65).
UKR - Veronika Shulga, Olena Mazurenko, Victoria Izhko, Oxana Rezvin, Oxana Andryuschenko, Svitlana Stasiouk (Tetyana Chornaya, 63), Nadia Mischenko, Galina Ivanova (Tatiana Oznobikhina, 78), Lioudmilla Pekur, Natalia Zinchenko, Svitlana Frishko (Natalia Zhdanova, 65).
|Alex del Angel, Jr.||(USA)|