KANSAS CITY, Mo. (October 22, 2003) - Playing their first match since placing third at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup on Oct. 11, the U.S. Women's National Team drew with an inspired Italy team, 2-2, in front of 18,263 fans at Arrowhead Stadium.
"It's tough to get motivated to play so soon after the Women's World Cup, and everyone is still disappointed from the loss to Germany," said U.S. captain Julie Foudy. "But you can react in one of two ways, you can keep being angry or you can move on and focus on the Olympics, and that's what we are going to do. This game was the first step towards that."
Italy stunned the U.S. team and the crowd by scoring just 11 seconds into the match, most likely the quickest goal ever allowed in U.S. Women's National Team history. Right off the opening kickoff, midfielder Katia Serra gathered the ball and pushed through a Shannon Boxx tackle, then squared the ball to the always- dangerous Patrizia "The Scorpion" Panico, who split the U.S. defense with a perfect first-time ball to fellow striker Ilaria Pasqui. The Italian forward then beat U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix to the ball and slipped her shot into the lower left corner.
"That was not the start we had in mind," said Foudy. "That might be the understatement of the year."
The USA played a lackluster first 30 minutes before settling down and taking the game to Italy in the final third of the first half, but still created some chances before the break. Boxx, who scored twice with her head during the Women's World Cup, had a good chance off a cross from the right side, but her bullet header was cleared off the shin of Moira Placchi about two yards from the net.
The USA tied the game through an own goal in the 36th minute that started with midfielder Julie Foudy serving a ball into the penalty box. Abby Wambach beat the offside trap and trapped the ball high off her chest, but just as she was about to take a shot on goal with her second touch, Italian captain Manuela Tesse stuck her foot in to break up the play and inadvertently lofted the ball over her own goalkeeper and into the net.
Milbrett had a golden opportunity to put the U.S. up 2-1 in the final seconds of the first half as she and Wambach broke in on goal with a 2-on-1 situation. Wambach jumped to nod a ball to the wide open Milbrett, but at top speed, she fired high over the goal. Milbrett, who has 99 career goals, left the game at halftime and her quest for the magical 100th goal will continue against Mexico in the USA's final game of the year on Nov. 2 in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl (live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. CT).
Halftime substitutions Shannon MacMillan and 20-year-old Lindsay Tarpley gave the USA a spark off the bench. The U.S. had a great chance to make it 2-1 early in the second half with a series of passes that ended with midfielder Aly Wagner lifting a ball over the defense to Tarpley, but her lunging volley was saved with off the left hand of Italian goalkeeper Monica DiBernardo in the 48th minute. Tarpley, who has 18 goals and 10 assists in 16 games as a sophomore for UNC this season, did well in her stint up front.
The USA went ahead in the 60th minute as MacMillan took a free kick from just outside the penalty area on the left wing and snuck it into the near post past DiBernardo. It was MacMillan's first goal since coming back from ACL surgery on May 18 and the 59th of her international career. MacMillan's 45 minutes were also the most she's played since her comeback game against Costa Rica on Sept. 1 when she returned the field 102 days after surgery.
Italy tied the game just four minutes later after another defensive breakdown in the back occurred off a Italy free kick. The ball was deflected up in the air and Placchi was the first to it, volleying it past Mullinix from eight yards out.
"We weren't really pleased with how we played but we need to find positives in everything," said Wambach. "But we are professionals and if we want to be the best team in the world in 2004, then we have to play like it."
The USA controlled possession through much of the match, but the organized and tightly compressed Italian defense proved tough to penetrate. Tiffany Roberts did well in the second half to give the USA's width and got off several dangerous crosses, but could not find a U.S. player in the penalty box.
Nineteen-year-old Lori Chalupny earned her fifth cap, playing the final 30 minutes in place of Kristine Lilly, who earned her 262nd cap.
"It's only a few days after the World Cup, but we owed the fans of Kansas City our best effort," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "We wanted to make sure that everyone got some playing time."
The USA moves to 16-2-4 in 2003 and will re-group in Dallas on Nov. 1 in preparation for the Mexico match, which will be the final game of the year for the team. The USA will then have two months off before beginning 2004 Olympic preparations, which includes a CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica at the end of February.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Italy
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Mo.
Date: October 22, 2003; Kickoff - 7:00 p.m. CT
Weather: Warm, Clear; 78 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
ITA 1 1 2
ITA - Ilaria Pasqui (Patrizia Panico) 1st minute.
USA - Own Goal (Manuela Tesse) 36.
USA - Shannon MacMillan (unassisted) 60.
ITA - Moira Placchi (Ilaria Pasqui) 64.
USA: 18-Siri Mullinix; 3-Christie Pearce, 15-Kate Sobrero, 14-Joy Fawcett (17-Danielle Slaton, 62), 2-Kylie Bivens; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Julie Foudy - Capt. (5-Tiffany Roberts, 46), 13-Kristine Lilly (22-Lori Chalupny, 61), 10-Aly Wagner; 20-Abby Wambach (8-Shannon MacMillan, 46), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett (21-Lindsay Tarpley, 46).
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 6-Brandi Chastain, 12-Cindy Parlow, 19-Angela Hucles.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs.
ITA: 1-Monica DiBernardo; 2-Moira Placchi, 3-Ilenia Sancassani (15-Silvia Pontil, 85), 5-Manuela Tesse - Capt., 6-Elisabetta Tona; 4-Alessia Tuttino (14-Pamela Conti, 63), 13-Katia Serra (16-Sara DiFilippo, 46), 8-Elisa Camporese; 9-Patrizia Panico (10-Valentina Boni, 80) 7-Chiara Gazzoli (11-Damiana Deiana, 84), 18-Ilaria Pasqui (17-Melania Gabbiadini, 70).
Subs not used: 12-Marisa Gorno, 19-Francesca Valetto.
Head Coach: Carolina Morace.
Corner Kicks: 9/1
ITA - Moira Placchi (caution) 28th minute.
ITA - Monica DiBernardo (caution) 87.
Referee: Ali Saheli (USA)
Referee Asst.: Bronson Brookerd (USA)
Referee Asst.: Faith Rossi (USA)
4th Official: Shahriari-Shar Dilmaghani (USA)