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Keller makes most of start; U.S. women rout New Zealand 5-0.

By Gary Davidson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Saturday, May 30, 1998) -- Debbie Keller knows her stay in the United States women's starting lineup is temporary, but she's making the most of her opportunity.

Keller has scored three goals in three games since replacing injured American star striker Mia Hamm. Her two goals yesterday led an overwhelming U.S. attack in a 5-0 victory over outclassed New Zealand at RFK Stadium.

"We definitely missed Mia out there and we can't wait for her to come back," said Keller, normally a reserve who has five goals in her last four matches and eight in her last eight games. "She adds so much to our game, not only through her scoring, but also in creating opportunities for everyone else."

Hamm, nursing a strained hamstring, has already been scratched for the return match between these two nations Tuesday in Oneonta, N.Y. That should hardly matter. The winning margin was hardly reflective of the American dominance. The U.S spent virtually the entire match on the attack. New Zealand often had six defenders in its penalty area and seldom sent players past the center stripe, unable to string more than two or three passes together.

The U.S. managed a 27-1 advantage in shots and forced 15 corner kicks to none for the Kiwis who lost 8-0 to Germany last week. Only some sensational goalkeeping by Rachel Howard kept the score respectable for New Zealand which arrived here Friday night at 10 p.m. for Saturday morning's 11 a.m. start.

"It was fun to watch from my vantage point. The team played very dynamic," said U.S. coach Tony DiCicco. "Please give credit to New Zealand because they had a long travel experience and they never gave up. This is when a coach feels good after a game like that."

Cindy Parlow put the U.S. ahead for good in the sixth minute working a sweet combination with overlapping defender Joy Fawcett. Approaching the top left of the box, Parlow sent a pass to the right perimeter of the area to Fawcett, who quickly settled and returned the ball to Parlow. She drilled a shot from seven yards that caromed off the arm of Howard into the right corner of the net.

In the 15th minute, striker Tiffeny Milbrett made a quick touch to at the top left of the box to Keller where she curled a perfect 18-yard shot into the top left corner. Then three minutes later, Milbrett dug out a ball from a crowd in the box and the ball squirted to Keller 19 yards out and she again nailed the top corner.

"If Debbie keeps scoring like that, it will be hard to keep her on the bench," DiCicco said.

Defender Lorrie Fair recorded her first international goal in the 54th minute and Milbrett finished the scoring in the 77th minute.

Gary Davidson is managing editor of SoccerTimes and can be e-mailed at info@soccertimes.com.

United States 5, New Zealand 0

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Christie Pearce (Lorrie Fair 46), Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett (Shannon MacMillan 46), Julie Foudy, (Tisha Venturini 46), Michelle Akers (Kate Sobrero 50), Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow (Tiffany Roberts 46), Debbie Keller, Tiffeny Milbrett. New Zealand - Rachel Howard, Jill Corner (Jane Simpson 64), Terry McCahill, Melissa Ruscoe, Kelly Jarden, Sacha Haskell (Jennifer Carlisle 73), Michelle McCahill, Rachel Oliver, Pernille Anderson (Maia Jackman 67), Wendi Henderson (Nicky Smith, 79), Amanda Crawford.

Scoring: United States - Parlow (Fawcett) 6; United States - Keller (Milbrett) 15; United States - Keller (unassisted) 18; United States - Fair (Keller) 54; United States -- Milbrett (Fair) 77. Shots: United States 27, New Zealand 1. Saves: United States 1, New Zealand 7. Corner kicks: United States 15, New Zealand 0. Fouls: United States 5, New Zealand 6. Offside: United States 2, New Zealand 0.

Referee: Sandra Hunt (United States). Assistant referees: Robert Fereday (United States), Tom Perry (United States). Attendance: 46,037 including subsequent menís game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Weather: Hot, hazy, humid, 85 degrees.