USA Qualifies for Quarterfinals and Leads Group G With Six Points;
Americans Will Face Australia on Tuesday With First Place in Group On the Line
The striking combo of Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach once again provided the offense for the U.S., with Hamm converting a penalty kick in the 58th minute, after Wambach was fouled in the penalty box, and Wambach adding another herself in the 78th minute off a great individual dribbling effort.
With the win, the U.S. remains atop the four-team Group G with six points and qualifies for the quarterfinals as they can finish no lower than third in the group, which earns a berth through to the next round. In today’s other Group G match, Australia defeated Greece 1-0 on a goal from Heather Garriock. The U.S. meets Australia on Tuesday in Thessaloniki at 6 p.m. (local) / 11 a.m. ET live on MSNBC in its final group match with a tie or a win clinching first place and match-up in the quarterfinals with the best third place team from Group E or F.
The crowd of 17,123 was definitely not on the USA’s side during the match, raucously cheering the Brazilian possession and attack while booing the U.S. team. The match started at a brisk pace, at least for Brazil, which did not seem bothered by the 94-degree temperature at kickoff, putting together some world-class possession soccer as the Americans chased the ball for most of the 45 minutes. With its attacking-minded 4-3-3 formation that featured dangerous trio of Marta, Christiane and Pretinha up top, Brazil was the dominate team, winning the majority of air balls over the taller Americans and out-shooting the USA 6-2 before the break, with five of Brazil’s shots on goal.
That meant the U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry had to step up, and she did, making several solid saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless. The only solace for the USA in the first half was that they earned eight corner kicks, but the Brazilian defense, at times draped all over the U.S. attackers, cleared every one.
Brazil had its first look on goal in the 14th minute when Formiga ran onto a short corner and swung in a ball that kissed the crossbar and dropped in the middle of the box where U.S. defender Joy Fawcett was quick to clear it out.Brazil poured it on with 15 minutes remaining in the half, producing three excellent scoring chances in a stretch of four minutes. After a U.S. foul on the edge of the box to the right of the penalty arc, Marta sent a swerving free kick over the U.S. wall, but Scurry was able to gather it at the near post with little problem.
Just a minute later, Brazil missed a golden opportunity to stun the U.S. with the opening goal, as Christiane slipped her mark at the back post and slid to get a foot on a cross from Marta, but it ricocheted off the right post and was cleared by U.S. defender Kate Markgraf.
In the 33rd minute, Marta beat the offside trap and gathered a through ball all alone in the right side of the box, but Markgraf closed in quickly and the Brazilian forward’s rushed shot was right at Scurry, who made the save.
Marta caused trouble for the USA for most of the match with her slick dribbling, but the U.S. defense kept a tight rein on the young superstar, who still managed to wriggle free for several dangerous shots and crosses.
The U.S. finally had a chance of its own in the final minute of the first half, with Wambach slipping behind the Brazil back line and bringing down a high ball that was sent in from the left flank, but her shot was blocked right off her foot by a retreating Brazilian defender.
Having barely survived the first half, the second half was a different story for the U.S. team, which showed some tremendous character to turn the match around. The USA switched to a 4-3-3 formation with Kristine Lilly joining Wambach and Hamm on the forward line and then found some more rhythm and possession, putting Brazil on the defensive.The USA fired six shots to Brazils five after the break, but two of Brazil’s shots came in the closing seconds after the game was decided. Neither team had staked their claim on the second half until the 57th minute, when Wambach was taken down in the box by Brazil defender Monica while trying to run onto a through ball from Julie Foudy, who had split the defense on a 30-yard dribbling run before playing the ball in the penalty area.
Hamm converted the clutch kick for the USA, sending her shot low and inside the right post as Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia flung her body in the opposite direction, a goal that seemed to crush the Brazilian’s spirit.
Buoyed by the one-goal lead, and sparked by the insertion of 20-year-old Lindsay Tarpley into the midfield (replacing Aly Wagner in the 57th minute, before the penalty kick), the U.S. attack picked up over the remainder of the match.
Tarpley helped the U.S. break through for a second goal in the 78th minute, throwing her body in harm’s way to head the ball perfectly down the right flank to Wambach. The play started on a throw-in from Christie Rampone and substitute Heather O’Reilly flicked the ball to Tarpley, whose bullet header skipped through on the ground, and Wambach tracked it down on the right side. She then cut sharply to her left and split Monica and Juliana to the inside with a move square across the goal before cracking a left-footed shot to the near post. Andreia, who was leaning to her right to cover the far post, could do nothing as the low, driven shot skipped by her left and into the net.
Brazil had a pair of shots late in the match, but they were sent wide right by Formiga in the 86th minute and Pretinha in the 90th. Brazil will face Greece on Tuesday in their final group game.
Wambach will miss Australia game through a suspension earned after receiving her second yellow card caution in as many games, this one in the 49th minute after a hard collision with a Brazilian defender. Rampone also picked up a yellow card.
In other Olympic women’s soccer action from the other groups, Nigeria sent Group E into a tizzy, defeating Japan 1-0, while Mexico pulled off a tremendous result in its first-ever Olympic match, tying China, 1-1, on a goal from star forward Maribel Dominguez.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Brazil
Competition: 2004 Olympics – Group G
Venue: Kaftanzolglio Stadium; Thessaloniki, Greece
Date: August 14, 2004; Kickoff – 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET
Weather: 86 degrees; sunny
1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
BRA 0 0 0
USA – Mia Hamm (penalty kick) 58th minute.
USA – Abby Wambach (Lindsay Tarpley) 78.
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Reddick (2-Heather Mitts, 80), 14-Joy Fawcett, 15-Kate Markgraf; 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 57), 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.), 13-Kristine Lilly (17-Heather O’Reilly, 69); 9-Mia Hamm, 20-Abby Wambach.
Subs Not Used: 6-Brandi Chastain, 8-Angela Hucles, 12-Cindy Parlow, 18-Kristin Luckenbill.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs.
BRA: 18-Andreia; 3-Monica, 4-Tania, 5-Juliana, 8-Daniela; 11-Rosana (16-Kelly, 72; 2-Grazielle, 85), 7-Formiga, 14-Elaine; 9-Pretinha, 10-Marta; 12-Cristiane (15-Maycon, 65).
Subs Not Used: 1-Maravilha, 6-Renata Costa, 13-Aline, 17-Roseli.
Head Coach: Rene Simoes.
USA / BRA
Shots: 8 / 11
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 13 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 17
Offside: 1 / 4
USA – Abby Wambach (caution) 49th minute.
BRA – Monica (caution) 57.
USA – Christie Rampone (caution) 89.
Referee: Dagmar Damkova (Czech Republic)
Asst. Referee: Emilia Parviainen (Finland)
Asst. Referee: Nelly Viennot (France)
4th Official: Christine Frai (Germany)
2004 Olympic Women’s Soccer First Round Results
USA 3, Greece 0
Germany 8, China 0
Brazil 1, Australia 0
Japan 1, Sweden 0
Nigeria 1, Japan 0
Australia 1, Greece 0
China 1, Mexico 1
USA 2, Brazil 0
Germany vs. Mexico
Greece vs. Brazil
USA vs. Australia
Sweden vs. Nigeria
2004 Olympic Women’s Soccer Group Standings
Teams W L T Pts GF GA GD
Nigeria 1 0 0 3 1 0 +1
Japan 1 1 0 3 1 1 0
Sweden 0 1 0 0 0 1 -1
Teams W L T Pts GF GA GD
Germany 1 0 0 3 8 0 +8
Mexico 0 0 1 1 1 1 0
China 0 1 1 1 1 9 -8
Teams W L T Pts GF GA GD
USA 2 0 0 6 5 0 +5
Australia 1 1 0 3 1 1 0
Brazil 1 1 0 3 1 2 -1
Greece 0 2 0 0 0 4 -4