The Women's Gold Cup title marks the fifth trophy won by the U.S. women this year, also bringing home championships in the Australia Cup in January, the Algarve Cup in March in Portugal, the NIKE U.S. Women's Cup in Portland, Ore., in May and the Pacific Cup in Australia in June.
"I think the biggest statement is consistency," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "We've overcome adversity over the course of this year and played some of the best teams in the world. We've been consistent throughout with not only good results against the best teams, but the second tier of teams that can make a game destructive and difficult to win."
The U.S. women had more of the match, earning a 20-11 shot margin, but Brazil, who earned bronze at the 1999 Women's World Cup, proved once again that it has ascended into the world's elite.
The first half saw Sissi hit the cross-bar on a 35-yard rocket and Katia, winner of the tournament's Golden Boot as top scorer, send a volley screaming over the crossbar, but it was the USA which got the goal just before halftime. Hamm played a perfect pass to Milbrett inside the penalty box and the sparkling striker pivoted on a dime to lash the ball into the net from 12 yards out while standing almost on the penalty spot. It was her 76th international goal.
"I found a seam in the penalty box and I was trying send some mental telepthy to Mia to find me," said Milbrett. "She played a perfect pass. I knew I didn't have much time so I just took a swing at it and found the corner."
The USA had its share of chances in the first half, including a long throw-in from Brandi Chastain that bounced invitingly inside the penalty box, but Hamm's stab at the ball was blocked and Lorrie Fair's shot of the rebound was deflected for a corner kick.
In the 25th minute, Milbrett almost busted through the defense, but a last gasp tackle thwarted the USA again. In the 40th minute, Milbrett ran onto a long ball and tried to chip Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia from 20 yards, but the ball flew tantalizingly over the goal.
Andreia played a spectacular tournament, which served as her international debut, but had to leave the match at halftime after suffering a thigh contusion. Women's World Cup starter Maravilha replaced her, but there was no repeat of the bobble that led to a goal by Cindy Parlow during that July 4, 1999, semifinal, as she pulled off two great saves.
In the 52nd minute Hamm crossed from the left wing to a wide-open Fair at far post, but her header was pushed just wide of the goal by Maravilha. In the 64th minute, a quick free-kick from the right flank found Milbrett inside the penalty box, but her shot was tipped over the bar by the flying Maravilha. One minute earlier, Julie Foudy had been clearly taken down in the penalty box, but referee Virginia Tovar said play on.
"Brazil brings a different style to the game and they are an emotional team," added Hamm. "They brought out some emotion in us tonight, but we have to use it to your advantage. You can't lose your head and get involved in these ticky-tack fouls and falling all over the place. We just needed to play. I think we did a good job of that tonight."
The Americans took the game to the Brazil in the last 30 minutes, and killed the clock with some sophisticated possession near the end, but the second half was not without some drama.
Sissi played Cidinha behind the U.S. defense in a movement that was likely offside, but when the flag stayed down, U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix came up huge, sliding to clear the ball away with her legs as Cidinha tried to round her. For Mullinix, who continued her rock solid played in the net, it was her 10th shutout of the year as she moves toward the U.S. record of 12 in a year, held by Briana Scurry. Mullinix has played 1,170 minutes this year and allowed just three goals, two on penalty kicks. She was named the top goalkeeper in the tournament while Milbrett earned MVP honors.
"We look at Tiffeny and we sometimes catch ourselves watching her since she's so explosive," said Hamm. "She's one of the greatest speed-dribblers I've ever seen. I think she's even faster with the ball at her feet than without it. I love that she's so unpredictable and as a defender that is so disconcerting to play against. The goals she scores are very thoughtful goals and she doesn't just hit a screamer, she picks out her shots, looks where the goalkeeper is and uses the correct surface."
The majority of U.S. team will now take a week off before traveling to Germany on July 12 for DFB 100-Year Anniversary Tournament, followed by a two-game swing to Norway. It will be the most difficult road trip in U.S. history outside of a world championship event as the Americans will face Norway, China, Germany, Norway and Norway again. A young U.S. side will face Italy on July 7 at the EAB Park in Central Islip, N.Y. (Kickoff 7 p.m. ET).
"The Gold Cup was a time in our schedule to start narrowing down a starting line-up," added Heinrichs. "Of course we want to win the tournament, but what I told the team before is that winning is just the icing on the cake. The process, the journey, the growth we've had over the last five games is what is going to take us to become the single best team that we can be and that is what really matters in the Olympics."
Defender Joy Fawcett and midfielder Julie Foudy were named to the all-tournament team along with Milbrett.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Brazil National Team|
|Competition:||CONCACAF Gold Cup 2000 (Final)|
|Venue:||Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)|
|Date:||July 3, 2000 - Kickoff 9 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||78 degrees - Warm, clear, perfect night for soccer|
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Mia Hamm), 44.
USA - 26-Siri Mullinix, 3-Christie Pearce, 20-Kate Sobrero, 14-Joy Fawcett, 6-Brandi Chastain, 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.), 2-Lorrie Fair (5-Nikki Serlenga, 69th), 13-Kristine Lilly, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 12-Cindy Parlow (8-Shannon MacMillan, 62nd), 9-Mia Hamm.
BRA - 22-Andreia (1-Maravilha, 46th), 4-Juliana, 20-Monica, 5-Daniela Alves, 6-Tania, 7-Cidinha, 14-Deva (17-Priscilla, 70th), 10-Sissi (Capt.), 9-Katia (21-Maycon, 46th), 13-Rosana, 24-Roseli.
|Cindy Parlow (caution)||57.|
|2000 Gold Cup Standings|
|*USA||3||2||0||1||19||0||7 (+19 GD)|
|*Brazil||3||2||0||1||19||0||7 (+19 GD)|
|Costa Rica||3||0||2||1||2||18||1 (-16 GD)|
|Trinidad & Tobago||3||0||2||1||2||24||1 (-22 GD)|
|*U.S. and Brazil advance to semifinals.|
U.S. wins group on a coin flip.
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 2, Trinidad & Tobago 2
USA 0, Brazil 0
|2000 Gold Cup Standings|
|China||2||2||0||0||17||2||6 (+15 GD)|
|Mexico||2||1||1||0||10||4||3 (+6 GD)|
|Canada||2||1||1||0||6||6||3 (0 GD)|
|Guatemala||2||0||2||0||0||21||0 (-21 GD)|
June 24 - Foxboro, Mass.
China 14, Guatemala 0
Mexico 4, Mexico 3
June 26 - Hershey, Pa.
Mexico 7, Guatemala 0
China 3, Canada 2
June 28 - Louisville, Ky.
Canada 12, Guatemala 0
China 3, Mexico 0
July 1 - Louisville, Ky. (Gold Cup Semifinals)
China 2, Brazil 3 (OT)
USA 4, Canada 1
July 3 - Boston, Mass. (Gold Cup Final)
China 2, Canada 1 (Third Place Match)
USA 1, Brazil 0 (Gold Cup Championship Game)
|Gold Cup Leading Goal Scorers|
|Jacqueline Alvarez||Costa Rica||1|
|Xiomara Briceno||Costa Rica||1|
|Delia De Silva||Trinidad & Tobago||1|
|Natalia des Vignes||Trinidad & Tobago||1|
All-Tournament Team: Goalkeeper: Siri Mullinix (USA); Defenders: Joy Fawcett (USA), Fan Yunjie (China), Juliana (Brazil); Midfielders: Zhao Lihong (China), Julie Foudy (Brazil); Forwards: Katia (BRA), Tiffeny Milbrett (USA), Charmaine Hooper (CAN), Roseli (BRA), Zhang Ouying (CHN).