It was the USA's first match on American soil this year after playing eight previous games abroad. The match was also significant as it marked the 15-year anniversary almost to the day of the USA's first-ever domestic match, which was played in Blaine, Minn., against Canada on July 7, 1986.
Cindy Parlow captained the USA in her 100th career match becoming, at 23 years old, the youngest player in U.S. history to reach that plateau. The U.S. women broke a four-game winless streak against Canada in a match they dominated from start to finish. Prior to this second game of the first ever "Independence Day Series" the U.S. had gone 0-2-2 in the last four meetings, including a 2-2 tie last Saturday in Toronto to open the two-game set.
The sun-baked crowd of 15,614 saw the U.S. team outshoot their northern neighbors 17-4, but the American women found difficulty busting through a Canadian side that was more intent on not letting in a goal than scoring one.
"Sometimes, this is the way soccer is," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs, who left for Germany right after the match to take in the end of the European Women's Championships. "You dominate for 90 minutes and just get one goal, but one was enough."
After 77 minutes of total domination, the U.S. finally got the goal it needed after Brandi Chastain was fouled by Silvana Burtini about 35 yards from the goal. Second half substitute Mia Hamm chipped the ball over the wall to the cutting Parlow, who chested it down inside the penalty area where a mad scramble ensued. The ball popped loose to Milbrett who slammed the shot into the net from five yards out.
"Sometimes a 1-0 game is more dramatic for the fans, but we would have like to put in a few more goals for them," said Milbrett, who was named the Chevrolet Woman of the Match. "Mia had some great deception on the goal. We all thought she was going to shoot the ball, but she sent a great pass over the wall to Cindy. I think we got one shot off, but it looked like a rugby scrum in there and I just hit it with my left foot."
U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix was forced into two early challenges as she came charging off her line to clear two balls in the opening minutes, but was not challenged severely until the final minutes of the games as the USA held the 1-0 lead. In the 90th minute, Christine Sinclair popped loose in the right side of the penalty area, but Mullinix was quick to slide and smother the ball. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Sharolta Nonen hit a well-struck volley from the top of the penalty area, but Mullinix full extended to her right to snag the shot.
The U.S. got most of its offense from the top two scorers in the WUSA - Milbrett and Shannon MacMillan - who combined to hit 11 of the USA 17 shots.
The USA had numerous strikes on goal during the match, but too many were from distance and did not test Canadian goalkeeper Nicci Wright. In the 7th minute, Julie Foudy played Milbrett through in the left side of the penalty area and she touched the ball around Wright to left, but with the wide-open MacMillan standing in the middle, her cross was cleared by the recovering Breanna Boyd. Canada had its lone chance of the first half in the 29th minute as Christine Latham rumbled through the right side of the U.S. defense and hit her shot into side netting from deep in right side of penalty area.
The U.S. played without starting central defender Kate Sobrero who sprained her ankle in the match vs. Canada last Tuesday. Brandi Chastain moved into the middle of the defense and played a superb match as she combined with the rest of the defense to render the Canadian strike force of Charmaine Hooper and Christine Sinclair relatively harmless.
Canada was content to clog the midfield and played organized and low-pressure defense while feeding a non-stop stream of long balls into the U.S defensive third, but the Americans were prepared for the direct tactics and stayed organized themselves the whole way.
In search of a winning goal, the USA turned up the pressure in the final 20 minutes. In the 72nd minute Kristine Lilly turned the left corner on her defender and crossed to Parlow, but her nifty heel flick at near post was blocked. In the 74th minute, Hamm went on a darting run inside penalty area, got end line and cracked a cross that was pushed out of bounds by Wright. Three minutes later, Milbrett got the winning goal.
"It was a great crowd and a great atmosphere," said Foudy. "We can play much better and we certainly can finish better, but when you get a win over a tough team like Canada, especially with all the problems they've given us lately, you've got to be pleased."
The three non-WUSA players on the roster, midfielder Aleisha Cramer (18 years old) and defenders Catherine Reddick (19) and Jena Kluegel (21) all played extremely well for the USA. Kluegel who hails from Mahtomedi, Minn., got a tremendous ovation from her home crowd when she entered the match in the 35th minute for Keri Raygor. Kluegel delighted the fans several times with timely tackles and slippery dribbles.
"I was very pleased with our younger players," added Heinrichs. "They may not be as savvy or experienced as some of our veteran players, but they played with tremendous heart and that can be the difference on the international level."
Aside from Cramer, Kluegel and Reddick, the rest of the U.S. roster will return to their WUSA clubs in preparation for weekend matches. As the WUSA season comes to a close in August, Heinrichs will pick a roster for the next national team event as the U.S. women will compete in the 2001 NIKE U.S. Women's Cup in September.
The USA will take on Germany at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., on Sunday, Sept. 9, then travel to Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio to face Japan on Sept. 11 before finishing with an epic battle against China at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, Sept. 16 in the first meeting between the two teams in the United States since the historic 1999 Women's World Cup Final, won by the USA in a dramatic penalty kick shootout.
2001 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Canada|
|Competition:||Independence Day Series (Friendly)|
|Venue:||National Sports Center Stadium (Blaine, Minn.)|
|Date:||July 3, 2001 - Kickoff Noon CT|
|Weather:||78 degrees (Sunny, Breezy)|
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett (unassisted), 77.
USA - 18-Jaime Pagliarulo, 14-Keri Raygor (7-Jena Kluegel, 35th), 4-Catherine Reddick, 6-Brandi Chastain, 10-Michelle French (3-Christie Pearce, 46th), 11-Julie Foudy, 2-Lorrie Fair (17-Aleisha Cramer, 46th), 13-Kristine Lilly (5-Nikki Serlenga, 83th), 8-Shannon MacMillan (9-Mia Hamm, 56th), 12-Cindy Parlow, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett.
CAN - 1-Nicci Wright, 3-Breanna Boyd, 6-Sharolta Nonen, 7-Isabelle Morneau, 12-Isabelle Harvey, 18-Kristina Kiss (15-Wanda Rozwadowska, 82nd), 5-Anderea Neil (11-Randee Hermus, 86th), 17-Silvana Burtini, 8-Christine Sinclair, 10-Charmaine Hooper, 4-Christine Latham.
CAN - Andera Neil (caution), 12.
CAN - Silvana Burtini (caution), 76.
Referee: Rachel Woo (USA)
Assistant Referee: Robert Petersen (USA)
Assistant Referee: Anthony Vasoli (USA)