CARSON, Calif. (Saturday, October 11, 2003) – The U.S. Women’s National Team registered a convincing 3-1 victory over regional rival Canada to take third place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 in front of a 25,253 fans at the Home Depot Center. The win made the USA the only country in history to finish in the top-three in all four FIFA Women’s World Cups.
Kristine Lilly opened the scoring in the first half, while Shannon Boxx and Tiffeny Milbrett each notched a goal in the second half to help the U.S. put the game away after going into the break tied at 1-1. The USA will return to action in just 11 days, facing Italy at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., which will be the first match of a two-game post-Cup tour.
The match featured the historic 1,000th goal in U.S. Women’s National Team history when Boxx, who was named the player of the game, powered home the game-winner on a header early in the second half. Milbrett’s goal, the 99th of her career, upped the U.S. goal total to 1,001 in 307 all-time games.
As is typical when the USA and Canada clash, the match was physical, but as is also the norm, the Americans dominated possession and dealt with 90 minutes of long balls from the Canadian backs. The U.S. and Canada each had seven shots on goal during the match as the fans were rewarded with non-stop, end-to-end action, but in the end, the USA’s quick possession and finishing ability were too much for the Canadians to handle.
"Canada played well and gave us some pressure, but we handled it well," said U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs. "It was a difficult week getting ready for this game emotionally, but I was very proud with the way the team played today."
The U.S. defense looked a bit unorganized early in the first half as Canadian forward Kara Lang was able to get behind on the flanks and found several openings to put shots on goal. Canada created the majority of its chances in the first half, as six of its seven shots on goal occurred in the first 45 minutes. In just the 2nd minute, Lang collected a ball that was poorly cleared by the U.S. defense and put a shot on frame that U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry did well to parry for a corner kick.
After the first few minutes, the U.S. settled down and held most of the possession, while pushing forward into the Canadian defensive third to create numerous chances on goal. The best early chance came in the 12th minute when Mia Hamm swung in a cross from the left flank and Cindy Parlow was able to get her head on the ball, but pushed it just wide left.
Two minutes later, Parlow was involved in a nasty collision with defender Brittany Timko and teammate Abby Wambach while attempting to meet a cross that had been played across the goal on the ground. Parlow suffered a mild concussion and eventually was replaced by Tiffeny Milbrett in the 42nd minute.
The first U.S. goal came in the 22nd minute as Lilly pounced on a loose ball outside the box that was pried free through some hard work by Abby Wambach. Lilly rocketed her shot into the upper right corner past frozen Canadian goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek. The sequence started off a free kick by Mia Hamm from the right flank. The ball bounced up in the air near the penalty spot where Wambach tried to hold off Canada captain Charmaine Hooper, but Hooper was able to just get a foot on the ball. The ball bounced to Lilly, who scored her second goal of the tournament with a blistering 25-yard left-footed shot.
Canada almost answered back seven minutes later when Lang hit the right post. The service from the left flank carried over the U.S. back line and skipped towards the back post as Lang ran onto it. The forward slid and got a toe on it, pinging it off the post, but also planted a cleat on the leg of Scurry, who dove to cover the angle. Scurry suffered a contusion on the inside of her leg, and after receiving treatment from the U.S. trainers, went the rest of the way.
Canada got the equalizer in the 38th minute when Christine Latham collected a ball about 35-yards out, and as U.S. defenders began to collapse on her, played Christine Sinclair through a gap to her right. Sinclair ran onto the ball and finished deftly past Scurry low to the left corner on the breakaway.
In the second half, the U.S. defense shut down Canada, limiting them to only one shot on goal. At the same time, the offense picked up its attack and peppered the Canadian frame with five shots, two of which would see the back of the net.
The U.S. took the lead for good in the 51st minute when Boxx scored the USA’s historic 1,000th goal off a corner kick. Hamm served in a perfect ball to the back post, where Boxx soared over defender Sasha Andrews and punched it home. The goal was the fourth for Boxx in seven games with the U.S. Women’s National Team and punctuated a fabulous tournament for the Women’s World Cup debutante as she was named the FIFA All-Star Team after coming into the tournament with only two international games played.
In the 73rd minute, Milbrett was denied twice, once by the post and once by the keeper. Lilly put in a ball from the left sideline and Milbrett ran onto the cross in front of the goal and flicked it past Swiatek, only to see it hit the post. The ball bounced back to Milbrett, but her shot off the rebound hit Swiatek in the body and was cleared out of danger.
Sinclair almost got Canada’s second equalizer of the game two minutes, banging a header off the crossbar from a Kristina Kiss cross after a short corner kick.
The U.S. finally put the game away in the 80th minute. Milbrett received a pass from Hamm down the right side and pushed into the penalty area. Looking for Wambach in the box, she put in a low cross, but it was deflected off Andrews’ foot and bounced back to her. Milbrett took advantage and blasted the rebound with her left foot into the roof of the net on the left side of the goal.
The match likely marked the last Women’s World Cup game for a legendary group of veterans that started the grand tradition of the U.S. Women’s National Team by winning the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in China in 1991. Hamm, Lilly, defender Joy Fawcett (a FIFA All-Star Team member who played every minute of the tournament for the USA) and captain Julie Foudy went out winners, but will all likely be in the USA’s plans for the Olympics in Athens in 2004. Defender Brandi Chastain, also a member of that 1991 team, did not play again in the tournament after breaking her right foot in the USA’s opening game win over Sweden, will also likely make a run to Greece.
Competition: FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003
Venue: The Home Depot Center – Carson, Calif.
Date: Oct. 11, 2003; Kickoff – 12:30 p.m. PT
Weather: 70 degrees, warm
1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
CAN 1 0 1
USA – Kristine Lilly (Unassisted) 22nd minute
CAN – Christine Sinclair (Christine Latham) 38th
USA – Shannon Boxx (Mia Hamm) 51st
USA – Tiffeny Milbrett (Unassisted) 80th
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 3-Christie Pearce, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Sobrero (8-Shannon MacMillan, 84), 14-Joy Fawcett; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Julie Foudy – Capt. (2-Kylie Bivens, 78), 13-Kristine Lilly, 9-Mia Hamm, 20-Abby Wambach, 12-Cindy Parlow (16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 43).
Subs not used: 5-Tiffany Roberts, 6-Brandi Chastain, 10-Aly Wagner, 17-Danielle Slaton, 18-Siri Mullinix, 19-Angela Hucles.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs
CAN: 20-Taryn Swiatek; 4-Sasha Andrews (7-Isabelle Morneau, 84), 5-Andrea Neil (14-Carmelina Moscato, 90), 6-Sharolta Nonen; 8-Kristina Kiss, 13-Diana Matheson, 15-Kara Lang (9-Rhian Wilkinson, 89), 16-Brittany Timko, 2-Christine Latham, 10-Charmaine Hooper-Capt., 12-Christine Sinclair.
Subs not used: 1-Karina Leblanc, 3-Linda Consolante, 19-Erin Mc Leod.
Statistical Summary: USA CAN
Shots 16 12
Shots on goal 7 7
Saves 6 4
Corner Kicks 4 4
Fouls 11 16
Offside 2 5
CAN – Kara Lang (caution) 65th minute
CAN – Charmaine Hooper (caution) 76th
Referee: Tammy Ogston (AUS)
Referee Asst.: Airlie Keen (AUS)
Referee Asst.: Jacqueline Leleu (AUS)
4th Official: Katriina Elovirta (FIN)