"I give a lot of credit to Ireland for playing an entertaining match," said U.S. Head Coach Tony DiCicco, who won his 99th match at the helm of the U.S. women. "I'm proud of our team, because while we might not have had as much to leave on the field as we did in the World Cup, everything we had, we gave. It showed the pride these players have and their professionalism every time they step on the field."
Ireland put up an admirable fight against a U.S. roster stocked with a staggering 1,599 international games worth of experience as compared to a combined 104 total for the Irish. The young Irish squad held off the U.S. for the first 24 minutes before Milbrett broke through to strike a wonderful goal.
The play started when defender Joy Fawcett played a pass out to Cindy Parlow on the left flank. Parlow then one-touched a looping ball over the top of the Ireland defense to the streaking Milbrett, who ran it down, touched it forward with her chest and then calmly volleyed the bouncing ball into the left corner from 16 yards out.
In the 38th minute, Parlow created the second goal when her header off an Ireland goal kick put Milbrett alone behind the defense in the right side of the penalty box. A defender came over to cover, leaving the middle open, and Milbrett played her cross on the ground to a wide open Julie Foudy, who first-timed her shot into the net from four yards out. It was Foudy's 32nd goal of her international career.
DiCicco made four substitutes at halftime, sending in Brandi Chastain, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini and goalkeeper Tracy Ducar. With some fresh players and the rust shaken off a bit, the Americans found their legs in the second half and attacked relentlessly.
The third USA goal also came from solid flank play as the speedy Sara Whalen, who entered the game one minute earlier for Parlow, broke free on the right wing and streaked toward goal. She struck a perfect cross on the ground for Milbrett to push into the left corner from 13 yards out for her 64th career goal. Still, Ireland never gave up the fight, but could create little offense, and the USA struck for its final two goals in the 72nd and 75th minutes.
The fourth goal came off the 15th of the USA's 17 corner kicks, this one from MacMillan, who drove her cross from the right side to the far post. Chastain met the ball with her head and sent a short pass back into the middle for Fawcett to nod home with her head on a bang-bang play.
Mia Hamm exposed the Ireland defense for the final goal when her penetrating dribble forced a kick save from Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne. The ensuing clear landed at Kristine Lilly's feet 25 yards from the goal. She took one touch on the collection and drove an unstoppable curving 19-yard into the upper right corner with the outside of her right foot. It was the 77th goal of her international career.
Milbrett had several chances late in the game to earn her hat trick, but couldn't find the net a third time.
The USA has not allowed a goal in 345 minutes, dating back to the second half of the Women's World Cup quarterfinal against Germany, as starter Saskia Webber and Ducar shared the shutout tonight.
The U.S. was without the service of midfielder Michelle Akers, who is taking some time off before rejoining the team in January, while starting goalkeeper Briana Scurry had an appearance the she could not reschedule. Defender Lorrie Fair, who has begun her senior season at the University of North Carolina, was the third member of the World Cup Team not available for the match. On the flip side, a young Ireland team showed promise for the future, as the squad featured six members of their Under-18 National Team and nine players that are younger than Fair, the youngest U.S. player at age 21.
The USA has three weeks off before regrouping in Denver, Colo. to face Brazil on Sunday, Sept. 26, at Mile High Stadium in a rematch of the 1999 Women's World Cup semifinal. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. ET (3 p.m. Local) and will be broadcast live on ESPN as DiCicco goes for his 100th career win. DiCicco expects to have every member of his Women's World Cup team on the roster except for Akers and Fair.
1999 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Ireland National Team|
|Venue:||Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)|
|Date:||Sept. 4, 1999 (4:30 p.m. ET kickoff)|
|Weather:||82 degrees - Humid, Balmy|
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Cindy Parlow), 25,
USA - Julie Foudy, (Tiffeny Milbrett), 38,
USA - Tiffeny Milbrett, (Sara Whalen), 59,
USA - Joy Fawcett, (Brandi Chastain), 72,
USA - Kristine Lilly, (unassisted), 75.
USA - 18-Saskia Webber (24-Tracy Ducar, 46th), 4-Carla Overbeck (6-Brandi Chastain, 46th), 20-Kate Sobrero, 3-Christie Pearce (8-Shannon MacMillan, 46th), 5-Tiffany Roberts, 14-Joy Fawcett, 13-Kristine Lilly, 11-Julie Foudy (15-Tisha Venturini, 46th), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 12-Cindy Parlow (7-Sara Whalen, 58th), 9-Mia Hamm.
IRE - 1-Emma Byrne, 2-Carol Conlon (12-Sonya Maher, 46th), 4-Rosie Power, 6-Abby Walsh (15-Susan Heapes, 46th), 17-Dolores Deasley, 7-Ciera Grant (14-Emma Kilduff, 69th), 8-Sylvia Gee (13-Niamh Connelly, 58th), 10-Holly Pierce (18-Yvonne Tracey, 79), 3-Margaret Saurin, 9-Grainne Kierans, 11-Claire Scanlon.