Iceland Bunkers Down for Hard Fought 0-0 Draw with U.S. Women; Milbrett Unleashes 8 Shots, but USA Can't Solve GK Helgadottir
The Americans fired 19 shots at the Iceland goal as they dominated the entire match, but couldn't find a way past the 19-year-old Helgadottir, who made a spectacular save in injury time to snag Brandi Chastain's volley and preserve the tie.
After getting pounded 8-0 last Wednesday in a closed-door match while playing a 3-5-2 formation, Iceland switched to a 4-5-1 and consistently had nine players behind the ball. The USA did get around the Iceland defense on the flanks on numerous occasions, but Helgadottir was there to snag a half dozen crosses during the match.
"Their goalkeeper made every save in the book, high, low, crosses, breakaways," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "She was terrific, but not just their goalkeeper, every player really came out and played with pride on the Iceland team. The result today was 50 percent about Iceland's effort and 50 percent about that game of soccer that can be generous on some days and stingy on other days."
The USA first real chance of the game came courtesy of Iceland as Gaudlaug Jonsdottir knocked the ball off her own cross bar while attempting to clear a Mia Hamm cross. In the 25th minute, Chastain skied to head a Hamm corner kick at net, but the ball was batted up in the air and then grabbed by Helgadottir. In the 27th minute, Helgadottir came up big again, making a kick save of a Christie Welsh volley.
The USA had a golden chance in the 33rd minute when Tiffeny Milbrett busted through the Iceland defense, but Helgadottir closed quickly and knocked down Milbrett's shot with a sliding save. Milbrett peppered the Iceland net with eight shots during the match.
The USA got a scare in the 39th minute when Hamm slammed head-first into the advertising boards while chasing a ball that was running out of bounds. She was dazed for several minutes, but rose to her feet and re-entered the match.
Iceland failed to produce a dangerous chance on offense, but played solid and organized defense to hold the USA to only its fifth scoreless draw in the last 10 years.
"Iceland is not in the Olympics," said Chastain. "But today was their Olympic Games."
The USA attacked relentlessly in the second half in search of the winning goal, but Chastain was a step late at the far post on a Hamm corner kick in the 53rd minute and shot wide, while Milbrett's chip from 23 yards in the 59th just skimmed over the crossbar. In the 66th minute, Welsh got around the Iceland defense on the left side and dribbled down the end line toward goal before cutting the ball back to Milbrett, but her shot from eight yards out was pushed over the top on a great reflex save from Helgadottir.
Heinrichs made just one substitute in the match, sending on Danielle Slaton in the 66th minute at left flank midfield and moving Kristine Lilly to the forward line.
In the 76th minute, Joy Fawcett penetrated deep down the right flank and swung a cross into the middle, but Milbrett's header went straight to Helgadottir. In the 79th minute, Hamm got some space in the left side of the penalty box, but blasted her shot wide left, then Helgadottir denied Chastain on the last gasp effort.
"Sometimes you play a game and do all the right things and one player has a spectacular game and that was their goalkeeper tonight," added Chastain. "She made remarkable saves that she didn't make on Wednesday. That was the difference in this game. We played a good game and a lot of things we worked in practice this week came through on the field, but the end result wasn't a goal, and you have to score to win."
U.S. midfielder Julie Foudy was a pre-game scratch from the starting lineup due to a slightly strained groin and 19-year-old Aly Wagner started in her place, putting together a solid match in the center midfield. U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix did not have to make a save, but picked up her fourth shutout in six career games.
When these two teams last played in 1998, the USA won the first game 6-0, then scrapped to a 1-0 victory in the second match. This time the USA could not get a goal despite earning 14 corner kicks to Iceland's zero.
"There is never a time we feel disappointed with our effort," added Chastain. "There was not a person on the field tonight who gave less than their maximum. We're disappointed that we didn't score, but we know we improved as a team, and we just need to finish our chances. We played a good game and well enough to bring some smiles to the faces of all the kids here tonight."
U.S. forward Kristine Lilly picked up her 198th career cap as she continues to extend her world record for international appearances, men or women. Lilly will became the first player in history to reach 200 caps if she plays in both of the USA's games at the NIKE U.S. Women's Cup 2000 in Portland, Ore. on May 5 and 7. The NIKE U.S Women's Cup 2000 will feature Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the USA. The U.S. women will now take eight days off before regrouping at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California to begin residency training camp.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Iceland National Team|
|Venue:||Ericsson Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)|
|Date:||April 8, 2000 - Kickoff 7:30 ET|
|Weather:||46 degrees - Cold, Wet|
USA - 26-Siri Mullinix, 6-Brandi Chastain, 20-Kate Sobrero, 14-Joy Fawcett, 13-Kristine Lilly, 2-Lorrie Fair, 11-Julie Foudy, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 22-Christie Welsh (19-Danielle Slaton, 69th), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 9-Mia Hamm.
ISL - 1-Thora Helgadottir, 5-Edda Gardarsdottir, 13-Iris Saemundsdottir, 14-Gudrun Gunnarsdottir, 3- Gudlaug Jonsdottir, 4-Rakel Ogmundsdottir, 6-Asthildur Helgadottir, 7-Margret Olafsdottir, 8-Erla Hendriksdottir, 11-Katrin Jonsdottir, 9-Asgerdur Ingibergsdottir.
|Edda Gardarsdottir (caution)||11,|
|Erla Hendriksdottir (caution)||38.|