COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sunday, September 8, 2002) - The U.S. Women's National Team put forth a dominating effort in the stifling heat and humidity today, pouring in six goals in the second half to put away Scotland, 8-2, at Crew Stadium. The Washington Freedom forward tandem of Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach accounted for most of the offensive explosion, with each player notching a hat trick. For Hamm, it was her 10th career match of three or more goals, as she was named Chevrolet Woman of the Match. She upper her career total to 133 goals.
Hamm missed the first nine national team games of the 2002 while recovering from knee surgery and saw her first action with the USA on July 21 against Norway. With three goals and three assists today, Hamm showed that she was back in form and ready to help the U.S. team in its qualifying run for the 2003 Women's World Cup.
The match marked the first meeting ever between the teams and Scotland showed some pluck in the first half, going into the break with a surprising 2-2 tie. U.S. head coach April Heinrichs made four halftime subs, including Wambach, and the USA proved too powerful for the Scots, who wilted in low 90s temperatures as the game wore on.
"We wanted to stay true to our week, and our week was about developing individuals and our system that we are working with," said Heinrichs. "We could have made several changes at halftime, maybe go with a three-front or play high pressure, which is our traditional way of playing, and maybe that wins that game for us. But we stayed with the 4-4-2, stayed in a low-pressure style and said 'Let's develop this system.'"
The USA opened the scoring in the 12th minute as Kristine Lilly slipped a pass through to Cindy Parlow, who was making a diagonal run into the right side of the penalty area. She had enough space to take a touch and crack her shot to the near post under the arm of the diving Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fay.
The match got a bit crazy midway through the first half as the teams combined for three goals in two minutes and 12 seconds, starting in the 34th minute. Scotland scored on its second shot of the game. A Scotland free kick from the right wing was chipped into the U.S. penalty area and bounced to Joanne Love, who fired a shot at goal that was saved with a full extension dive by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. The rebound bounced right to Scotland captain Julie Fleeting and she buried her shot from five yards out to tie the game.
The Americans then went ahead 40 seconds later as Lilly got free down the left flank and bent in a cross on the ground. Hamm slashed through two defenders to spin her shot through the legs of Fay and into the net. Ninety-two seconds later, the match was tied again. This time Fleeting slid on the end line to cross a ball that was rolling out of bounds. Debbie McWhinnie beat both Solo and Kate Sobrero to the cross at the near post to bundle the ball into the net. Scotland almost took the lead in stoppage time of the first half as Fleeting got in on a breakaway, but amazingly, with only Solo to beat, rolled her shot just wide right. Scotland was extremely efficient in the first half, taking just four shots, putting three on goal and scoring twice, but got steamrolled in the second half, giving up six unanswered goals.
The USA wasted no time taking the lead in the second half as Wambach scored 112 seconds after the break. It was Wambach who played Jenny Benson down the left wing, before drifting into the middle. Benson, who was making her first career start in her third career cap, skinned her defender with a classy cut back and then chipped a cross into the middle for Wambach to finish smartly with a falling header.
The USA added another in the 50th minute as Hamm snuck in to pick off a poor back pass from Shelly Kerr, then rounded the stranded Fay and rolled her shot into the net from an almost impossible angle on the left end line. Kerr got some payback moments later, running through Hamm at midfield and causing her to take a nasty fall before the U.S. forward rose slowly to her feet.
Wambach got her second of the game in the 64th minute, hammering a volley into the left corner after nicely settling a short pass from Hamm, who had dribbled to the left end line. Wambach returned the favor four minutes later as she took a pass from Hamm in the left side of the penalty area and dribbled to the end line before slipping a pass back to Hamm, who deftly re-directed the ball past Fay.
Hamm also set up the seventh goal, playing a through ball to Shannon MacMillan down the right wing. MacMillan cut in hard and welcomed substitute goalkeeper Claire Johnstone to the game, stuffing her shot into the near post from four yards out. Wambach got the last goal in the 89th minute on a header after Hamm sent a perfect chip into the middle from the right side of the penalty area, but tweaked her ankle on the play and had to leave the match for the last minute.
"It was a great start for us, but the second half showed the difference between the two countries," said Fleeting, who plays in the WUSA with the San Diego Spirit. "I think we were real beat, as you could tell at the end. The heat is definitely different from what we are used, and we struggled with that a bit, and our tired legs took its toll."
Heinrichs emptied her bench in the second half, giving time to all 18 players on the roster, including Briana Scurry, who picked up her 105th career cap in goal. Midfielder Lorrie Fair captained the team as she received her 100th cap, becoming the 14th U.S. player hit the century mark.
The Americans played wearing yellow armbands in honor of Chastain's mother, Lark, who passed away two days ago. The team also honored Lark Chastain with a moment of silence before the match.
"In the first half, I think we left our hearts at the hotel," said Heinrichs. "It's been a couple of tough days with Brandi's mother dying and you can't play this game without your heart. We came out with much more heart in the second half and also our backs started intercepting more balls. As soon as they started to do that, we had more of the ball and Scotland didn't have too many chances."
The U.S. women will break for several weeks before the 2002 Nike U.S. Women's Cup, to be played in Uniondale, N.Y., and Cary, N.C. from Sept. 29-Oct. 9. That tournament will also feature Italy, Australia and Russia.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants: United States Women's National Team vs. Scotland
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
Date: Sept. 8, 2002; Kickoff - 1 p.m. (ET)
Weather: Sunny, hot - 92 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 / 2 / F
United States 2 / 6 / 8
Scotland 2 / 0 / 2
USA - Cindy Parlow (Kristine Lilly), 12.
SCO - Julie Fleeting (Joanne Love), 34.
USA - Mia Hamm (Kristine Lilly), 35.
SCO - Debbie McWhinnie (Julie Fleeting), 36.
USA - Abby Wambach (Jenny Benson), 47.
USA - Mia Hamm (unassisted), 50.
USA - Abby Wambach (Mia Hamm), 64.
USA - Mia Hamm (Abby Wambach), 68.
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Mia Hamm), 78.
USA - Abby Wambach (Mia Hamm), 89.
USA - 18-Hope Solo (1-Briana Scurry, 46); 15-Kate Sobrero (23-Heather Mitts, 64), 4-Thori Bryan (20-Kelly Lindsey, 46), 6-Brandi Chastain, 14-Jenny Benson; 5-Tiffany Roberts (7-Jena Kluegel, 62), 2-Lorrie Fair (capt.), 13-Kristine Lilly (10-Angela Hucles, 46), 11-Julie Foudy (8-Shannon MacMillan, 64); 12-Cindy Parlow (22-Abby Wambach, 46), 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs not used: none.
SCO - 1-Gemma Fay (12-Claire Johnstone, 76), 2-Shelly Kerr (13-Suzi Robertson, 84), 3-Stacey Cook, 4-Nicky Grant, 5-Michelle Barr, 6-Julie Smith (16-Megan Sneddon, 65), 7-Joanne Love (15-Finella Annand, 73), 8-Mhairi Gilmour (17-Alana Bruce, 88), 9-Donna James, 10-Julie Fleeting (capt.) (18-Suzanne Grant, 76), 11-Debbie McWhinnie.
Subs not used: 14-Pauline Hamill.
Statistical Summary: USA / SCO
Shots: 24 / 6
Shots on Goal: 15 / 3
Saves: 1 / 6
Corner Kicks: 6 / 1
Fouls: 5 / 17
Offside: 1 / 1
SCO - Stacey Cook (caution), 37.
Referee: Rachel Woo (USA)
Asst. Referee: Sharon Wheeler (USA)
Asst. Referee: George Vergara (USA)
Chevrolet Woman of the Match: Mia Hamm