BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 24, 2004) - The U.S. Women's National Team put together a world class performance in a decisive 5-1 win over Brazil in its first domestic game of 2004 on the road to the Athens Olympics. Forward Mia Hamm registered assists on the first three goals and added a final goal in the 87th minute as the U.S. rolled over South America's Olympic representative.
The USA played with confidence from the opening whistle on a hot but breezy day, and the first goal came after some consistent U.S. pressure as Hamm broke free into the left side of the penalty area. She cut back hard on a defender and slipped, but popped to her feet and struck a short cross that was batted into the middle of the box by Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia. The ball sat nicely on the turf for team captain Julie Foudy, who ran onto it and plowed her first-time shot in the net from eight yards out in the 13th minute. For Foudy, it was her 44th career international goal.
The second goal was also courtesy of Hamm, who drew a foul near the right sideline about 45 yards from the goal and then launched a perfectly driven ball to the far post on the free kick. Wambach slipped her mark to the far post, and beat the leaping Andreia to the ball to nod it into the net from a sharp angle, sending the ball back across the goal into the lower right corner in the 31st minute.
The U.S. added another one just before halftime through a great combination of passes that saw Shannon Boxx put Hamm behind the defense in the left side of the penalty area with a perfectly-weighted ball. Hamm drew a defender, then unselfishly played a pass back into the middle for Wambach, who with only Andreia to beat, cut her shot into the left corner from seven yards out in the 42nd minute. The goals were the latest in Wambach's torrid scoring pace at the international level, upping her career total to 25 goals in 35 career games and 11 goals in her last 10 games.
Brazil's most dangerous chance in the first half came in the 44th minute, as Cristiane skipped a header off the top of the crossbar from a free kick, but U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry had it covered.
Brazil turned up the pressure a notch for a stretch in the second half and broke through in the 55th minute off a poor U.S. clearance, as Marta took the ball out of the air at the top of the box and quickly blasted a skipping shot past Scurry into the lower right corner.
Both teams subbed freely in the second half, with each team making six changes after the break. U.S. goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill earned her first career cap at the full WNT level when she replaced Scurry in the 66th minute. Former U.S. Under-21 and Under-19 star midfielder Lori Chalupny earned just her seventh WNT cap, coming on for Kristine Lilly in the 76th minute.
With the game all but decided with five minutes to play, 23-year-old forward Christie Welsh helped the Americans tack on two more goals for the final margin. Welsh, who last appeared for the U.S. on April 27, 2002, ran onto a ball that forward Cindy Parlow brought down out of the air and finished past substitute goalkeeper Maravilha in the 86th minute. It was Welsh's 13th goal in 22 career matches for the U.S.
Less than a minute later, Welsh played a diagonal ball between two defenders to find Hamm at the penalty spot, where she finished easily from 14 yards out to increase her world record to 148 career goals.
The match marked a homecoming for Birmingham native Reddick, who almost delighted the crowd twice, getting two scoring chances in the first half off corner kicks. Her first one was sliced wide right of the goal and the second in the 37th minute was saved by Andreia as the shot was fired through goalmouth traffic.
The U.S. team has a week off before returning to the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif. on May 3, where they will resume Olympic Residency camp and train before their next match, a May 9 friendly versus Olympic qualifying Mexico at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., at 1 p.m. MT live on ESPN2.
The U.S. also has matches scheduled for June 6 (vs. Japan in Louisville), July 21 (vs. Australia in Blaine, Minn.), and two more matches to be announced this week which will complete the team's six-game domestic exhibition schedule leading up to the Olympics in mid-August.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Brazil
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Legion Field; Birmingham, Ala.
Date: April 24, 2004; Kickoff - 12 Noon CT
Weather: Hot, humid, breezy; 82 degrees
1 2 F
USA 3 2 5
BRA 0 1 1
USA - Julie Foudy (Mia Hamm) 13th minute.
USA - Abby Wambach (Mia Hamm) 31.
USA - Abby Wambach (Mia Hamm) 42.
BRA - Marta (Unassisted) 55.
USA - Christie Welsh (Cindy Parlow) 86.
USA - Mia Hamm (Christie Welsh) 87.
USA: 1-Briana Scurry (24-Kristin Luckenbill, 66); 3-Christie Rampone (6-Brandi Chastain, 58), 4-Cat Reddick, 21-Heather Mitts, 15-Kate Markgraf; 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.; 16-Lindsay Tarpley, 46), 13-Kristine Lilly (23-Lori Chalupny, 76), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner (30-Christie Welsh, 66); 20-Abby Wambach (12-Cindy Parlow, 46), 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs not used: 27-Heather O'Reilly.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs.
BRA: 1-Andréia (12-Maravilha, 82); 3-Monica (16-Elaine, 59), 6-Rosana (17-Michelle, 75), 21-Tania, 18-Janaina (19-Juliana, 46); 5-Renata Costa, 14-Daniela, 7-Formiga (8-Maycon, 82), 22-Marta; 9-Katia, 11-Cristiane (10-Kelly, 46).
Subs Not Used: None.
Head Coach: Rene Simoes.
Shots on Goal: 7/6
Corner Kicks: 6/3
USA - Kristine Lilly (caution) 23rd minute.
BRA - Katia (caution) 32.
BRA - Marta (caution) 60.
BRA - Tania (caution) 90.
BRA - Renata (caution) 91+.
Referee: Sandra Hunt (USA)
Assistant: Karalee Sutton (USA)
Assistant: Brenda Wright (USA)
4th Official: Kari Seitz (USA)
Chevrolet Player of the Game: Mia Hamm
U.S. Women's National Team Quote Sheet:
U.S. head coach April Heinrichs on the overall play of the team:
"When you step out on the field and play one of the best teams in the world and have as many players play as well as they did today, it's a great thing, and it makes it very difficult to choose rosters and leave players behind. When it comes time to choose that Olympic roster, there will be some very difficult decisions to make."
Heinrichs on her team's effort:
"Soccer is one of those games that when you play well and do the simple things, it does look easy, but it's not. There was no aspect of winning today that was easy. The effort they put in today was incredible. I am not sure there is a team out there in the world that has worked as hard as this team in the last four months, or the last three weeks. There are some things you can't control, like referees or bad bounces, but there are some things you can control, and we put it all together today."
Birmingham native Cat Reddick on what such a dominating win will do for the team:
"It's a definite confidence builder playing on your home soil. I got a little nervous playing in front so many people I know, but playing at home is our favorite thing to do. Because the Olympics are in Greece, building on this game at home, and the rest of our tune-up games, will be huge for us."
Two-goal scorer Abby Wambach on her play:
"We know we have a long time before the Olympics and we have to keep people fresh. The coaching staff knows this and they are going to give a lot of people chances to play. I know that if I want to stay in the position of being a starter, I have to finish my chances and today was a good example of that."
U.S. forward Mia Hamm on the result:
"For us it was a great motivation to end our first three weeks of residency to try to get a good result against Brazil. The fact that we got it going early really helped us a lot because Brazil is one of the those teams that if you let them dance on the ball and get more confident and nutmeg you five times, their game just goes up and up."
Hamm on the quick start:
"We were able to put them under pressure early. We came out and were hard physically from the very beginning and those early goals really helped us out. You saw what Brazil was capable of in that 15-minute stretch in the second half. We weathered that and once we got the ball again, we knocked it around really well and were able to get two goals out of it."
Hamm on if the USA meets Brazil in the Olympics:
"It was a good way to start, but Brazil is going to get better. They have a new coach since the Women's World Cup and I sure they were tinkering with things and playing players in different positions. We can't believe that if we get Brazil in the Olympics that this is the result we are going to get. It will be a dogfight every time."