"The 100th win was very special," said DiCicco, who got a Gatorade shower from the team at the end of the match and is the first coach in U.S. Soccer history to win 100 games. "It wasn't just a milestone for me, but for the U.S. Soccer Federation, the players and my family who have been with me and supported me through it all."
Forwards Tiffeny Milbrett and Shannon MacMillan, who teamed together on the front line for the University of Portland during their college careers, each scored two goals while midfielder Kristine Lilly picked up three assists. The match also saw 17-year-old Aleisha Cramer of Lakewood, Colo., play the final 24 minutes, to the delight of the hometown crowd of 25,099 fans.
The Brazilian team was a shadow of the squad which pushed the Americans to their limits in a tense 2-0 win during the semifinals of the 1999 Women's World Cup, but a U.S. side playing just its second game since winning the world championship was sharp. The USA played without the world's first and third leading scorers in Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers, as well as starting goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who was scratched in pre-game warm-ups due to a lingering hip injury. Saskia Webber played the entire match for the USA and made two saves in the shutout.
The USA still brought numerous weapons into the match and defender Joy Fawcett's strike in just the 4th minute that was barely turned around the post by Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia was a sign of things to come. Brazil's only forays into the USA's defensive third consisted for dribbling runs from Roseli, the top forward in South American who played her first game after undergoing knee surgery which forced her out of the 1999 Women's World Cup. Brazil's most dangerous opportunity came in 65th minute when substitute Daniela got behind the U.S. defense, but Webber's kick save on the point blank shot kept her slate clean.
"Brazil was not at is strongest," said DiCicco. "But we came out to show that the USA is not going to rest on past success. We want to get better because we have a new goal now and that's the Olympic gold medal. We know it will be a very difficult challenge to win in Australia, but this game was a great step towards that end."
The USA's first goal came in the 29th minute when MacMillan sprung Milbrett with a through pass down the left flank. The speedy Milbrett ran past Brazilian defender Juliana into the penalty box, then cut back sharply into the middle, leaving Raquel for dead, before driving her shot on the ground into the right corner.
The USA's second goal came off a bizarre set of circumstances when Andreia caught a back-pass off the foot of one of her defenders in the 34th minute. Referee Sandy Hunt immediately whistled for the indirect free-kick about 12 yards from the Brazilian goal. Lilly wrestled the ball away from Andreia, quickly put it on the ground and played a short pass to MacMillan, who easily tapped the ball into the open net as the Brazilians just stood and watched.
Lilly was also the catalyst for the third goal when she won a slide tackle at midfield, then quickly popped to her feet and rolled a beautiful pass that put Cindy Parlow behind the defense. The 5-foot-11 Parlow dribbled in on goal and bent her shot into the right side of the net for the 3-0 lead.
Lilly got her third consecutive assist in the final seconds of the half when she penetrated down the right flank and slotted a perfect pass on the ground into the middle. Milbrett had time to take a touch before slamming the ball into the roof of the net from seven yards out for her 66th international goal.
MacMillan got her second goal in the 70th minute, taking a square pass from Tisha Venturini at the top of the penalty box before ripping a shot that was deflected and looped over Andreia before settling in the left corner for her 22nd career goal. Danielle Fotopoulos got the final goal in the 84th minute when she redirected MacMillan's free-kick into the net from three yards out.
Cramer, a Green Mountain High School senior, completed a rare club-and-country "double" when she entered the game for Julie Foudy in the 66th minute to a rousing ovation from the crowd. In the preliminary match to the U.S. game, Cramer helped her Colorado Rush U-18 club team win the state championship. Cramer led the Rush to the U-17 National Championship last summer.
"It was just great opportunity to get to play with these players," said Cramer, who has not decided on her college for next fall. "My stomach just dropped when everyone clapped for me when I went into the game. It was so exciting and I know it will help me in playing at this level in the future."
The U.S. team takes three days off before traveling to Columbus, Ohio, where they will kick off the four-team, six-game NIKE U.S. Women's Cup '99 against South Korea in front of a sell-out crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium next Sunday, October 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Women's World Cup champions then head to Kansas City, Mo., where they will face Finland in front of a record soccer crowd at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. CT. The USA will finish the tourney against Brazil on Sunday, October 10, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in a match that will be televised live on espn2 at 1:00 p.m. ET and will likely decide the tournament champion.
1999 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Brazil National Team|
|Venue:||Mile High Stadium (Denver, Colo.)|
|Date:||Sept. 26, 1999 (3:00 p.m. MT kickoff)|
|Weather:||78 degrees - Sunny, Breezy|
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Shannon MacMillan), 29,
USA - Shannon MacMillan, (Kristine Lilly), 34,
USA - Cindy Parlow, (Kristine Lilly), 38,
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Kristine Lilly), 45,
USA - Shannon MacMillan, (Tisha Venturini), 70,
USA - Danielle Fotopoulos, (Shannon MacMillan), 84.
USA - 18-Saskia Webber, 4-Carla Overbeck (Tiffany Roberts, 46th), 20-Kate Sobrero, 7-Sara Whalen, 3-Christie Pearce, 14-Joy Fawcett (6-Brandi Chastain, 46th), 11-Julie Foudy (19-Aleisha Cramer, 66th), 13-Kristine Lilly (15-Tisha Venturini, 46th), 12-Cindy Parlow (22-Danielle Fotopoulos, 46th) 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 8-Shannon MacMillan.
BRA - 1-Andreia, 2-Cris (7-Suzana, 46th), 3-Juliana, 4-Fanta, 6-Fabiana, 5-Cidinha (13-Deva, 46th), 8-Daniela, 14-Raquel (18-Nildinha, 64th), 10-Sissi, 11-Roseli, 9-Maicon.
|Cindy Parlow (caution)||34,|
|Julie Foudy (caution)||42,|