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2000 U.S. Olympic Team

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Battered Hamm makes Brazilians pay, scoring in 60th minute for 1-0 Olympic semifinals victory.

CANBERRA, Australia (Sunday, Sept. 24, 2000) -- Mia Hamm was hacked, and hacked again. Sent to the turf on several occasions by blatant fouls, three that earned yellow cards, the United States star striker exacted revenge the way she knows best.

She scored.

Hamm’s disputed goal in the 60th minute provided the U.S. a 1-0 Summer Olympics semifinal victory over Brazil tonight before 11,000 at Bruce Stadium and a trip to Sydney for Thursday’s gold-medal match against old friend Norway.

"For me, I just wanted to try to wreak a little bit of havoc in there and I did."
-- Tiffeny Milbrett on the game-winner
Norway also slid into the title game, using an own goal for a 1-0 victory over Germany. The Norwegians will look to redeem themselves for a 2-0 loss to the U.S. in preliminary group play.

The U.S. match produced few scoring chances. Though Brazil held a 15-6 shots advantage, the Americans put four shots on frame to only two for Brazil.

Hamm netted the unprecedented 127th goal of her career, opportunistically finished a rare chance in the 60th minute.

The U.S. defense, and especially the back line of Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero and Brandi Chastain, stifled the Brazilians and on the one occasion she was called on to make a clutch save, American goalkeeper Siri Mullinix was up to the task.

"I'm pleased and very proud of the team," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "The last 20 minutes of the game showed a great mentality on our part. The game was ebb and flow, and when you get to this point in a world championship tournament, the result of the game can be a matter of inches. It can be left up to something out of your control. We really played within ourselves, kept our heads and at the end of the day we find ourselves advancing, and that feels terrific."

Tonight's rematch of the 1999 Women's World Cup semifinal -- won 2-0 by the U.S. -- was brutally physical with the teams combining for 41 fouls and eight yellow cards, four for each team, as the clearly pro-Brazil crowd cheered on the South Americans. Brazil played a dynamic match, mixing quick passing connections with superior tight-space dribbling, but could never quite penetrate for a dangerous shot.

"I thought we did a good job of staying balanced," U.S. defender Chastain said. "Brazil caused a lot of problems, but I never thought were in danger of going down."

The first half, while intense, saw no clear chances for either team as the USA controlled the flow in the early going before Brazil grabbed a hold of the momentum before the break.

Hamm was a favorite target of Brazilian tackles as she received several nasty hits and painful trips to the turf, but she helped alleviate the pain when she scored off a set play 15 minutes into the second half. Chastain took the right-side free kick from 45 yards out and bent a drive into the penalty area. Five-foot-three midfielder Lorrie Fair rose above her defender and looped a header back towards the left post. Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia raced out of her goal, but missed the descending ball as she lunged for it, and then crashed into U.S. forward Tiffeny Milbrett who was also charging hard after the loose ball.

With Milbrett and Andreia in a heap on the ground, Hamm bolted in and tucked the bouncing ball into the net from an extremely steep angle, just one yard from the end line and one yard outside the left post.

"I was just trying to go for the ball," said Milbrett. "For me, I just wanted to try to wreak a little bit of havoc in there and I did. I got in (the goalkeeper's) way a bit and Mia was following the play and was able to slot the ball in from a tight angle."

The Brazilians argued a foul should have been called on Milbrett for taking down Andreia.

Brazil, playing on four days of rest to the Americans’ three, gave every ounce of energy it had for the last 30 minutes, but the U.S. defense would not be beaten, repelling 12 corner kicks during the match and catching the South Americans offside six times.

Forward Maicon was perhaps Brazil's most dangerous player, but even she could not find a way around the U.S. back line. In the 65th minute, it seemed as if Pretinha had broken loose in the right side of the box, but Fawcett came up with a game-saving play, making a brilliant recovery run and executing a perfect slide tackle to win the ball before the diminutive Brazilian could pull trigger.

In the 70th minute, it was Mullinix who was the hero when substitute Roseli got behind the U.S. defense in the right side of the box and cracked a driven volley that Mullinix got a hand on to palm just outside the left post. Roseli had entered the match in the in the 58th minute after forward Katia, perhaps Brazil's best attacker, was forced to leave with a pulled hamstring.

"We have great respect for Brazil," Heinrichs said. "It's an understatement to say that they're the most improved team. Brazil is a marvelous team, and our feeling for the last year now, especially after the Gold Cup, is that Brazil is definitely one of the top four teams in the world. The margin is very, very slim and I think you saw that tonight."

Heinrichs made just one substitution, bringing on Cindy Parlow for Shannon MacMillan in the 79th minute, and the big striker was instrumental in helping the Americans milk the clock, holding the ball in the corner of the field on several occasions as the seconds ticked away.

The U.S. will face Norway for the eighth time in 2000. The two teams are knotted a 3-3-1 on the year, but Norway holds an edge in the all-time series at 14-13-2, the only nation with a winning record against the Americans.

"Norway is a great team and they have some great personalities in (Dagny) Mellgren, (Marianne) Pettersen, and Hege Riise," Heinrichs said. "Riise is a winner and the kind of player I would have on my team any day. She finds ways to win. She's thoughtful and crafty, and I love the way she plays. She's been the most consistent player for Norway for years. They play with a great, organized defense, the play hard and physical at the back.

"Bente Nordby is also one of the best goalkeepers in the world so their defense is tough to penetrate and it will require a great performance from our part."

United States 1, Brazil 0

Lineups: United States - Siri Mullinix, Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, Lorrie Fair, Shannon MacMillan (Cindy Parlow 79), Tiffeny Milbrett, Mia Hamm. Brazil - Andreia, Juliana, Tania, Simone, Daniela, Formiga, Cidinha, Sissi (Raquel 83), Katia (Roseli 58), Pretinha, Maicon.

Scoring: United States - Hamm (Fair) 60.

Shots: United States 6, Brazil 15. Shots on goal: United States 4, Brazil 2, Saves: United States 2, Brazil 3. Corner kicks: United States 3, Brazil 12. Fouls: United States 23, Brazil 18. Offside: United States 0, Brazil 6. Yellow card cautions: United States - Fair 44, Lilly 63, Milbrett 68, Parlow 91. Brazil - Simone 31, Katia 47, Juliana 49, Formiga 59.

Referee: Nicole Petignat (Switzerland). Assistant referees: Margaret Lynn Fox, (New Zealand), Comfort Cofie (Ghana). Attendance: 11,000 at Bruce Stadium in Canberra, Australia. Weather: Cool, clear, breezy - 59 degrees

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