The match kicked off 75 minutes after its scheduled time, but the delay did little to slow down the U.S. team, which scored three goals in a six-minute span before the game was 12 minutes old. Forward Cindy Parlow scored the first hat trick of her international career, getting two goals in the first half and one in the second, as she paired up top with Tiffeny Milbrett for the first time in a 4-4-2 formation.
The margin of victory was the largest ever for the USA in the Algarve Cup, a tournament it has failed to win in five previous attempts. The USA faces Denmark on Tuesday in its next Group A match and finishes the preliminary round on Thursday against Sweden. If the Americans win their group, they will play for the championship on Saturday, March 18.
Ironically, it was Portugal that had the first scoring opportunity of the game, whistling a free-kick past the USA's left post just two minutes into the match, but it would be the last quality chance for the hosts on the afternoon. U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix had little to do as she picked up the first shutout of her young career.
In the 5th minute, Kristine Lilly powered her way past a defender on the laft flank, dribbled straight down the end line toward the goal and found the cutting Parlow in the seem to touch the ball home from close range. Less than 60 seconds later, Shannon MacMillan picked off a pass on the right side of the Portugal defense, beat a player and smacked her shot into the upper right corner from 20 yards out. Parlow finished the rush five minutes later, collecting a pass with her back to the goal from Tiffeny Milbrett before spinning around her defender and placing her shot in the lower corner from 18 yards out.
Joy Fawcett, the highest scoring defender in U.S. history, finished the first-half scoring with a magnificent goal in the 22nd minute. She ran onto a pass from Venturini, took a touch and struck a 30-yard bending blast with her left foot into the upper left corner for the 22nd goal of her career.
The USA hit the woodwork twice in the first half as Lorrie Fair's blast in the 21st minute was pushed off the crossbar by the Portuguese goalkeeper and Parlow's header shook the bar in the 33rd.
U.S. Head Coach and former national team captain April Heinrichs, who registered the first win of her international coaching career, made four second half substitutions, sending on Brandi Chastain for Carla Overbeck, Christy Welsh for Milbrett, Danielle Slaton for Fawcett and Sara Whalen for MacMillan. Heinrichs gave Mia Hamm the day off. The athleticism and depth of the U.S. team overwhelmed Portugal, which got just a little bit nasty in the second half, flooring an array of U.S. players with bone-crunching tackles.
"Games offer a different kind of pressure than training, especially in some of the tackling," said Heinrichs. "Every now and then it's good to have a game like this to establish some possession and get our legs under us."
The USA's first two goals in the second half came off headers as no crossbar got in the way of Parlow in the 63rd minute. The 5-foot-11 forward sliced through the penalty box and rose to strike a glancing header, re-directing Lilly's corner kick into the lower right corner of net. Tisha Venturini then tallied in the 67th minute, meeting Whalen's driven cross from the right side to stretch the net with a bullet header from four yards out.
"It's great to start off such a high-quality tournament with a game like this, especially coming back from my injury," said Parlow, who upped her career international goal total to 29 in her first game of 2000 after recovering from a hamstring pull. "With a new formation and some players in different positions, it builds confidence for the whole team."
Julie Foudy, who entered the game in the 65th minute for Kristine Lilly and played 25 minutes at left flank midfield, finished the scoring two minutes from time. The play started with a long service from Mullinix to Welsh, who flicked the ball over the Portuguese back line to the streaking Foudy, who rounded a defender and slotted the ball into the left corner for the 33rd goal of her career.
"A lot of players got to play at least a half today and that's a great way to start a tournament," said Foudy. "When your whole roster has success it builds confidence for the whole team heading into the next three games."
Lorrie Fair played the entire match for the USA at defensive midfield while Sara Whalen played the second half at right flank midfield. Christie Pearce and Kate Sobrero went the distance for the USA in the back and both played solid matches, helping nullify the Portuguese attack while contributing well to the offensive rhythm.
In the other Group A match, Sweden defeated Denmark, 1-0. In Group B, Norway defeated Finland, 2-0, while Sun Wen paced China with two goals in a 4-0 victory over Canada.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Portugal National Team|
|Competition:||7th Algarve Cup|
|Venue:||Hotel Montechoro Fields (Albufeira, Portugal)|
|Date:||March 12, 2000 - kickoff 3:15 p.m. local (10:15 a.m. ET)|
|Weather:||55 degrees - Overcast, Wet|
USA - Cindy Parlow, (Kristine Lilly), 5,
USA - Shannon MacMillan, (Unassisted), 6,
USA - Cindy Parlow, (Tiffeny Milbrett), 11,
USA - Joy Fawcett, (Tisha Venturini), 22,
USA - Cindy Parlow, (Kristine Lilly), 63,
USA - Tisha Venturini, (Sara Whalen), 67,
USA - Julie Foudy, (Christy Welsh), 88.
USA - 26-Siri Mullinix, 3-Christie Pearce, 4-Carla Overbeck (6-Brandi Chastain, 46th), 20-Kate Sobrero, 14-Joy Fawcett (Danielle Slaton, 46th), 13-Kristine Lilly (11-Julie Foudy, 65th), 2-Lorrie Fair, 15-Tisha Venturini, 8-Shannon MacMillan (7-Sara Whalen, 46th), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett (22-Christy Welsh, 46th), 12-Cindy Parlow.
POR - 1-Olga Garcia, 2-Sandra Silva, 3-BÃ(c), 18-Celisa Jassi, 6-Maria JoÃ£o Xavier, 9-Paula Santos (14-Beta, 80th), 10-Paula Reis, 16-Sonia Silva (11-Rita Morgado, 80th), 17-Paula Oliveira (4-Ana Rita, 60th), 13-Adilia Martins (8-Susana Martins, 60th), 7-PatrÃcia Sequeira (5-Paula Mesquita, 80th).
|Maria JoÃ£o Xavier (caution)||33,|
|Celisa Jassi (caution)||84.|