More important than the result, the USA found out its first-round opponents this summer. The hosts will face two nations that they've never played before in North Korea and Nigeria. The USA will play Denmark in the Opening Game doubleheader on June 19 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, which will also feature Brazil vs. Mexico and the Opening Ceremonies. The USA will then face Nigeria at Chicago's Soldier Field on June 24 before completing the first-round against North Korea at Foxboro Stadium in Boston on June 27.
"You can call it the 'unknown group,'" said U.S. Head Coach Tony DiCicco of his draw. "We really don't know much about Nigeria or North Korea, but we do know they have some great athletes and are hard tacklers. Denmark is also a strong, physical team and has given us great difficulties in the past. I think they will be a great test in the opener and we're anticipating tough matches in each of our first round games."
The World Stars, made up of one player from each of the nations that qualified for the Women's World Cup this summer, got two second-half goals from Charmaine Hooper of Canada. Her first score came from a free-kick that deflected off the U.S. wall and the other on a spectacular volley off a bouncing ball from 25 yards out.
The loss broke a streak in which the USA had won 46 domestic games, but the Americans still keeps their streak intact in full-international matches. Julie Foudy scored the lone goal for the USA, striking in the 24th minute when Mia Hamm played a deft square pass to her inside the penalty box. Foudy pushed her shot into the right corner past goalkeeper Goa Hong of China to give the USA an early lead.
The FIFA World Stars had several dangerous chances early in the game, as "Marvelous" Mercy Akide of Nigeria, Kim Sun Hui of North Korea and Hooper all had high quality shots on goal, but all were either saved by U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry or missed just wide. The spirited and physical match featured end-to-end play and great moments of individual brilliance by players from both sides.
U.S. midfielder Michelle Akers was knocked out of the match in the 16th minute when she collided with Linda Medalen of Norway while challenging for a head ball. Medalen inadvertently head-butted Akers as the two jumped, giving the USA's most veteran player a gash above her left eye that required four stitches and a trip to a nearby hospital for x-rays of a possible fracture to her left cheekbone. A fractured cheekbone could keep Akers out of action up to six weeks.
The USA had more than a few golden opportunities through the match, but both Goa and Swedish goalkeeper Ulrika Karlsson made brilliant saves to deny the Americans. The USA out-shot the World Stars 15-9 and had a nine corner-kicks to one margin, but it was Hooper's finishing that decided the match. The all-time leading scorer for Canada tied the match in the 55th minute, blasting her free-kick off the shoulder of Foudy who was standing in the U.S. wall. The ball changed direction and flew over U.S. goalkeeper Tracy Ducar, who had come on at halftime in place of Scurry.
Hooper added the winner in the 61st minute, running onto a bouncing ball after a U.S. defender slipped, and cracked a gorgeous volley over the stranded Ducar and into the left corner.
"I think you can tell by the intensity of tonight's game, that all the players are getting fired up," said U.S. midfielder Brandi Chastain. "This was not the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii, no one took it lightly. You could see all these great players from around the world, and I know that the Women's World Cup this summer is going to be a blast for both players and fans."
"The Women's World Cup is everything to a soccer player," said U.S. star Mia Hamm, who with 103 career international goals is closing in on the world's all-time scoring record of 108. "We respect that fact that Norway is the reigning World Champion and everyone is looking forward to the chance to dethrone them. It is going to take everything we have to get that trophy back."
The USA now takes a one week break before regrouping at their residential camp in Orlando, Fla., in preparation for a closed door match against Finland on June 24 followed by a promoted game against the Fins at the University of Tampa on June 27. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET.
1999 U.S. Women's National Team Game Report
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. FIFA World Stars|
|Venue:||Spartan Stadium (San Jose, Calif.)|
|Date:||February 14, 1999 - kickoff 5:00 p.m. (ET)|
|Weather:||Cold, Cloudy -- 48 degrees|
USA - Julie Foudy, (Mia Hamm), 24,
FWS - Charmaine Hooper, (unassisted), 55,
FWS - Charmaine Hooper, (unassisted), 61.
USA - 1-Briana Scurry (24-Tracy Ducar, 49th), 4-Carla Overbeck, 20-Kate Sobrero, 2-Lorrie Fair (3-Christie Pearce, 50th), 14-Joy Fawcett, 6-Brandi Chastain (12-Cindy Parlow, 64th), 11-Julie Foudy, 10-Michelle Akers (15-Tisha Venturini, 19th, 5-Tiffany Roberts, 73rd), 13-Kristine Lilly, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett (8-Shannon MacMillan, 51st), 9-Mia Hamm (22-Danielle Fotopoulos, 70th).
FWS - CHINA-1-Goa Hong (SWEDEN-12-Ulrika Karlsson, 46th), NORWAY-5-Linda Medalen, KOREA DPR-2-Kim Sun Hui (GHANA-9-Vivian Mensah, 68th), DENMARK-4-Lene Terp, CANADA-6-Charmaine Hooper, GERMANY-9-Bettina Wiegmann (RUSSIA-15-Irina Grigorieva, 66th), (JAPAN-10-Homare Sawa (ITALY-7-Manuela Tesse, 46th), FRANCE-13-Corinne Diacre, MEXICO-16-Laurie Hill (EGYPT-14-Sara Mohamed, 72nd), NIGERIA-17-Mercy Akide (BRAZIL-11-Grazielle, 46th), ENGLAND-18-Sue Smith (AUSTRALIA-3-Julie Murray, 46th).
|Ave Marie Alpizar||(CRC)|