The USA victory, combined with Brazil's 11-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, means that the winner of the match between the two 1999 Women's World Cup semifinal opponents on Tuesday at Foxboro Stadium (8 p.m. ET -- ESPN) will win Group A and earn a berth in the semifinals against the second-place team in Group B. If Brazil and the USA should draw that match, both teams would be even on the three tournament tie-breakers -- head-to-head, goal difference and goals scored -- meaning that lots would be drawn to determine the order of finish in the group. Both teams have earned a berth in the semifinals at Papa John's Stadium on July 1.
U.S. head coach April Heinrichs gave starts to Sara Whalen, Danielle Slaton, Susan Bush, goalkeeper Jen Branam and Serlenga, and got high level production from each, with the 19-year old Bush dishing off for four consecutive assists in the second half.
"It's very difficult to come back after scoring 11 goals against Trinidad and Tobago on Friday and put on a similar performance," said Heinrichs. "But it's tribute to the individual and team discipline, and the commitment to pursue excellence, that we came after them today."
The USA drew first blood in the 11th minute when Whalen settled a loose ball in the penalty box and touched a pass back for Serlenga, who struck a sizzling half-volley from 17 yards out into the left corner. One minute later Whalen beat several defenders while dribbling laterally across the top of the penalty box before toe-poking a short pass to Shannon MacMillan, who cracked the ball into the left corner with the outside of her right foot from 17 yards.
In the 22nd minute, Cindy Parlow got behind the defense on the right wing and played a cross on the ground to the trailing Bush, who spun her first-time shot into the left corner from four yards for her second goal of the year.
The USA spent much of the match inside the Costa Rica penalty box in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, and the score could have been higher as several offensive flurries went unrewarded due to scrambling defenders who cleared shots off the goal line.
Heinrichs sent on 19-year old Christie Welsh at halftime and the move immediately paid dividends as she smacked Bush's cross from the right side into the net from five yards out just two minutes in the second half. Serlenga then completed her hat trick with goals in the 53rd and 64th minutes, both strikes from distance and both on passes from Bush.
"It felt great to play a full game and get in the rhythm," said Serlenga. "To get the goals is an added bonus, but everyone loves to get the chance to perform and contribute to winning on this team."
The USA finished with two goals in a three-minute span as Bush created her fourth consecutive goal of the second half. She played a quick one-two with Whalen on the right side of box to pop free behind the defense, then cut the ball back to Welsh, who pushed her shot into the left corner in the 81st minute. It was Welsh's 11th goal in just 14 games as she reached 10 career goals faster than any player in U.S. history. Whalen got the final tally in the 83rd minute after taking a pass from Julie Foudy before spinning around her defender at the top of the box and ripping a bending ball with her left-foot into the upper left corner.
"Every time we step out on the field as the United States team we have players in all positions that can play a role and be the centerpiece of the game for us," added Heinrichs. "Sometimes our young players struggle with the fact that there are so many good players on the team. It can be a difficult position when they are playing next to 10 or 11 of the best players in the world. But with a lot of players getting some playing time today, and performing well, we are trying to push several little buttons that will help players' confidence and development."
Branam, in her fourth career game, picked up her first career shutout and made one save as the Americans out-shot Costa Rica, 39-4.
"We want to develop the team and individuals between now and the Olympics," added Heinrichs. "We want to give players playing time, but as much as our coaches like to think that players are learning on the bench, they don't learn nearly as much as they do playing on the field. We've really tried to pursue winning games and tournaments, but never at the price of player development. Come next month and August, we'll start focusing more on results as our players will be very played in by then."
Brazilian forward Katia, a former elite track & field hurdler in South America, was unstoppable against T&T, scoring seven of her team's 11 goals, and could have easily gotten 10, but for several near misses. The Americans will have to contain her and striker partner Roseli, who has three goals in the tournament.
The USA will not train tomorrow and will travel to Boston in the evening in preparation for its match against Brazil on Tuesday, then travel back to Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday morning.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Costa Rica National Team|
|Competition:||CONCACAF Gold Cup 2000|
|Venue:||Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (Louisville, Ky.)|
|Date:||June 25, 2000 - Kickoff 4 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||85 degrees - Sunny, Very humid|
USA - Nikki Serlenga, (Sara Whalen), 11,
USA - Shannon MacMillan, (Sara Whalen), 12,
USA - Susan Bush, (Cindy Parlow), 22,
USA - Christie Welsh, (Susan Bush), 47,
USA - Nikki Serlenga, (Susan Bush), 53,
USA - Nikki Serlenga, (Susan Bush), 64,
USA - Christie Welsh, (Susan Bush), 81,
USA - Sara Whalen, (Julie Foudy), 83.
USA - 24-Jenni Branam, 3-Christie Pearce, 14-Joy Fawcett (Capt.), 20-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain, 5-Nikki Serlenga, 2-Lorrie Fair (11-Julie Foudy, 46th), 8-Shannon MacMillan, 23-Susan Bush, 7-Sara Whalen, 12-Cindy Parlow (22-Christie Welsh, 46th).
CRC - 1-Marie Clarie Herra, 2-Kattia Madriz, 3-Jessica Murcia, 4-Laura Palma, 6-Heylin Barrantes, 7-Xiomara Briceno (11-Karina Lopez, 32nd), 10-Ericka Castro, 12-Xinia Contreras - Capt., 13-Emilia Carmona, 15-Nubia Duran (9-Jayaira Aguilar, 35th), 17-Jacqueline Alvarez.
|Shannon MacMillan (caution)||32.|
|2000 Gold Cup Standings|
|USA||2||2||0||0||19||0||6 (+19 GD)|
|Brazil||2||2||0||0||19||0||6 (+19 GD)|
|Costa Rica||2||0||2||0||0||16||0 (-16 GD)|
|Trinidad & Tobago||2||0||2||0||0||22||0 (-22 GD)|
June 23 - Hershey, Pa.
Brazil 8, Costa Rica 0
USA 11, Trinidad & Tobago 0
June 25 - Louisville, Ky.
Brazil 11, Trinidad & Tobago 0
USA 8 vs. Costa Rica 0
June 27 - Foxboro, Mass.
Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago
USA vs. Brazil
|2000 Gold Cup Standings|
|China||1||1||0||0||14||0||3 (+14 GD)|
|Canada||1||1||0||0||4||3||3 (+1 GD)|
|Mexico||1||0||1||0||3||4||0 (-1 GD)|
|Guatemala||1||0||1||0||0||14||0 (-14 GD)|
June 24 - Foxboro, Mass.
China 14, Guatemala 0
Mexico 4, Mexico 3
June 26 - Hershey, Pa.
Mexico vs. Guatemala
China vs. Canada
June 28 - Louisville, Ky.
Guatemala vs. Canada
China vs. Mexico
|Gold Cup Leading Goal Scorers|