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2000 Olympic Women's Team

Milbrett, Hamm score
to defeat Norway 2-0 in Olympic opener.

U.S. women

U.S. is dominant in stifling Norway.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Thursday, September 14, 2000) -- Going into this match, we were told that the United States was in deep trouble. The Americans had not played well against "powerful" Norway in 2000 and were ripe to be beaten.

Instead, the match was over in the 24th minute when the U.S. scored its second goal. From that point on, the Norwegians could do little but watch the U.S. dominate. It was as good a performance as the women have had under first-year coach April Heinrichs.

At the same time, the performance by the Norwegians was absolutely dismal. They had some fire during the first 20 minutes of the match, but the two easy goals by the U.S. seemed to visibly deflate them. By early in the second half, they appeared to have pretty much conceded the match and rarely ventured out of their own end of the field. They only had one semi-serious shot on the U.S. net in the final 45 minutes.

Actually both teams seemed to lose interest in the proceedings into the second half, and the last 30 minutes were pretty forgettable. The U.S. was unlucky not to be up be five by the interval. Tiffeny Milbrett scored a fine goal using her speed to simply run through the Norwegian defense. Then she hit the woodwork three times and had two other wonderful chances. If there is anything to fault the U.S. for, it was lack of finishing, and perhaps lack of a killer instinct.

There was no part of the U.S. game that was not top-notch. The offense generated chance after chance. The midfield was dominant and gave the Norwegians little position. The defense was rock solid not allowing balls over the top or balls to be played through. Goalkeeper Siri Mullinix did fine.

Much credit has to go to Heinrichs, if, as it seemed today, this was a well-prepared team peaking at just the right time. If the U.S. plays at this level, China will not be able to keep up in their meeting Sunday and the eventual result could be gold once again.

U.S. player ratings

Starters

Goalkeeper Siri Mullinix - 6: A solid match. Very quick and has excellent range. At times she tended to over-commit and not to read situations well. That will come as she gains experience.

Defender Brandi Chastain - 6.5: A quiet but competent performance. Did not push forward all that often, but was solid on defense.

Defender Joy Fawcett - 7: A big effort. Won most air battles and with Sobrero marked Norweigen star Marianne Pettersen rout of the match.

Defender Kate Sobrero - 7: A solid, competent performance in the middle. Controlled the box throughout the match and was able to start any number of plays with perfect passes out of the back.

Defender Christie Pearce - 6.5: Was the big question mark for the U.S. in the back going into this match having taken over for ailing captain Carla Overbeck. Responded with a big performance. Made few mistakes defensively and pushed forward often into the offense. A commendable effort.

Midfielder Shannon MacMillan - 6.5: The 1996 Olympic hero was still working hard in the 90th minute. The U.S. controlled the midfield throughout the match, in no small part thanks to MacMillan's tireless effort. Solid in both the offensive and defensive end.

Midfielder Lorrie Fair - 6.5: Extremely effective on the flank. Made some offensive forays. but was in more of a defensive role. Little got by her to the outside and she linked well with the players in front.

Midfielder Julie Foudy - 6.5: Controlled the middle of the field through much of the match. Made some very good passes and runs of her own. A fine performance.

Midfielder Kristine Lilly - 6.5: Attacked down the wing for much of the match with great effectiveness. Came back to defend when needed.

Forward Mia Hamm - 7.5: The kind of performance expected from a consummate professional. Her goal was a result of positioning and good finishing. Was always a threat and despite being closely marked, was able to control much of the action in the offensive midfield.

Forward Tiffeny Milbrett - 8: The best player on the field in the first half, scoring a goal with her pace and came oh, so close on at least four subsequent occasions. Was a handful for the Norwegian defense the entire match.

Reserves

Forward Cindy Parlow (70th minute) - 6.5: Came on for Hamm and ranged well down the right wing for the final 20 minutes. Had several scoring chances and was a constant threat. Near the end. held the ball for long stretches to kill off the clock.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman's "It Seems To Me . . . " appears regularly on SoccerTimes. He can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com..

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