U.S. head coach April Heinrichs made six changes in the starting lineup from the team that hammered Russia, 7-1, last Sunday, and while the shot margin was similar in both matches (20-4 on Sunday, 19-2 tonight), the goals did not come.
"It is tough to come back after a high scoring match in front of a big crowd like last Sunday," said Heinrichs. "But (the U.S. players) are professionals and we can do a better job of that. For us, the game is a reminder that we have to play first with our heart and that there needs to be urgency in our game. It's a reminder that possession (of the ball) is a great thing, but they don't keep score based on how many passes you string together. We have to have an urgency to get behind defenses and get shots on frame."
Russia got on the board in the 28th minute when Olga Letushova won a long ball into the penalty box with her head, nodding it down into the path of Natalia Barbashina, who ran onto the ball and struck her bouncing shot into the left corner.
It would be Russia's last shot of the match.
The USA almost put the game away early as Sara Whalen, who got the start at forward, struck a flurry of three consecutive shots from inside the penalty box, but each was blocked by a Russian defender. Shannon MacMillan latched onto the final rebound, but blasted her shot over the crossbar.
Outside of the goal, Russia had its best chance of the game in the 10th minute when Barbashina broke free behind the U.S. defense, but Danielle Slaton ran her down and tackled the ball away.
The USA increased its energy in the second half as Heinrichs inserted Tiffeny Milbrett, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly into the match, but the trio was faced with a Russia team content to defend its lead. Still, the Americans ran repeatedly at goal and kept chipping away until the equalizer came.
Hamm struck a corner kick from the right side and the ball hit Russian defender Olga Sergaeva on the arm as she tried to head the ball clear. Referee Lorenzo Sanz did not hesitate the call a penalty kick and Joy Fawcett calmly rolled the ball into right side of the net to tie the game.
Russia did not register a shot in the second half and its deepest penetration earned its one corner kick of the match that was easily cleared away by the U.S. defense. The Americans continued their onslaught on the Russia net, and if not for some inspired play by captain and central defender Marina Burkova, who was playing in her 100th international match, the U.S. would surely have put the game away.
In the 52nd minute Nikki Serlenga struck a shot from distance that gave goalkeeper Larissa Kaipitonova fits before she managed to palm the ball away.
The last five minutes of the match saw three golden chances to score a winner. In the 85th minute, Hamm's cross from the ride side flew over Cindy Parlow and landed on the foot of the darting Milbrett, but her volley screamed over the top of the goal. In the 88th minute, Milbrett was sprung in the left side of the penalty box and chipped short cross the cutting Parlow, but she too skied her volley over the top from close range. In the 90th minute, Hamm launched herself into the air to meet a cross, but sent her header high.
The USA had two free-kicks and a corner kick in stoppage time, but couldn't punch in a goal and had to settle for its record sixth tie of the year.
"We didn't score as many goals as we'd like, but sometimes the game is that way," said Parlow, who leads the team in scoring with 17 goals this year. "I think anyone who watched the game saw that we didn't come out at 100 percent and once again we learned the lesson that we can't take anything for granted. We have bring everything we have to field from the opening whistle."
U.S. co-captain Carla Overbeck started her first match since coming back from knee surgery and played the first half. U.S. midfielder Michelle Akers took a tumble early in the game when she was cut down by a Russian defender and aggravated her surgically repaired shoulder. The U.S. coaches took her out of the game for precautionary reasons, but Akers will be ready to go for next Sunday's match against Canada in Kansas City, Missouri.
"It hurts," said Akers, whose tolerance for pain is legendary. "But it'll be fine."
The USA will continue the "NIKE Road to Glory" tour when it travels to Kansas City tomorrow to take on Canada on Aug. 20th at Arrowhead Stadium (Kickoff 2 p.m. CT - LIVE on ESPN2). The USA will then take a week off before regrouping in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center for several days of practice before facing Brazil on Sept. 1 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. in its final match before the Olympics.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Russia National Team|
|Venue:||Ludwig Field, University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)|
|Date:||August 15, 2000 - 7 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||79 degrees - Balmy, Clear|
RUS - Natalia Barbashina, (Olga Letushova), 28,
USA - Joy Fawcett (penalty kick), 72.
USA - 1-Briana Scurry, 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Carla Overbeck (16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 46th), 15-Kate Sobrero, 17-Danielle Slaton, 2-Lorrie Fair, 11-Julie Foudy, 10-Michelle Akers (5-Nikki Serlenga, 29th), 8-Shannon MacMillan (13-Kristine Lilly, 46th), 12-Cindy Parlow, 7-Sara Whalen (9-Mia Hamm, 46th).
RUS - 20-Larissa Kaipitonova, 3-Marina Burakova, 4-Elena Zhikhareva, 5-Natalia Filippova, 6-Armine Gevorgian (15-Oksana Shmachkova, 50th), 7-Elena Fomina, 8-Olga Karasseva, 9-Tatiana Skotnikova (14-Olga Sergaeva, 56th), 10-Natalia Barbashina, 11-Olga Letushova, 16-Yulia Yushkevich (2-Natalia Kopkova, 90th).
|Marina Burkova (caution)||49,|
|Olga Letushova (caution)||93+.|