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U.S. women

Heinrichs not pleased with 3-0 romp over Mexico to start World Cup qualifying.

PASADENA, Calif. (Sunday, October 27, 2002) - The results of the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup, the eight-nation qualifying tournament for the 2003 Women's World Cup, seem pre-ordained. The United States and Canada should have little difficulty grabbing the two berths to the 2003 World Cup.

It would take more than an upset -- it would necessitate a miracle (or major scandal) -- for any other outcome to occur.

And though the U.S. easily handled Mexico 3-0 in their tournament opener before 5,568 at the Rose Bowl, not all was happy in the American camp. Coach April Heinrichs, among others, thought the U.S. should have found net more often in a match where the Americans completely controlled the tempo, possession and posted a 25-2 shots advantage, 12-1 on frame.

"It was not such a satisfying result for us," Heinrichs said. "We felt the game got a little reckless in the second half, and while we had chances, we didn't finish them. What you see in Mexico is, every time we play them, they come back with a little more determination, a little more grit, more organization and probably a little more optimism about what they can create offensively."

The remaining American Group 1 matches are against Trinidad & Tobago Tuesday at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., and Saturday against Panama at SAFECO Field in Seattle, Wash. Panama defeated Trinidad & Tobago 4-2 in today's first match. Group 2 starts play Wednesday. The top two teams in each Group advance to semifinals November 6 in Seattle. Both semifinals winners immediately qualify for the World Cup and play for the championship November 9 at the Rose Bowl.

Midfielder Aly Wagner put the U.S ahead 1-0 in the fifth minute while striker Cindy Parlow added to the lead late in the first half. MacMillan, who replaced, Parlow, finished the scoring three minutes into stoppage time.

The U.S. is now 8-0 against Mexico since the first meeting in 1991, scoring 54 goals while conceding two. The Americans are 5-0 against Trinidad all-time with a 44-2 goal differential and have never played Panama. While, in Group 2, Canada provides a worthy foe, the U.S. has played each other participant once, defeating Costa Rica 8-0, and Haiti and Jamaica by 10-0 scores.

The U.S. opened the scoring after midfielder Tiffany Roberts did well to send a cross into the penalty area from the right side. The ball bounced to midfielder Kristine Lilly who dropped a short pass to Wagner at the top of the box. Wagner used her first touch to smack the bouncing ball into the lower left corner from 19 yards, skidding past Mexico goalkeeper Jennifer Molina for a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.

In the 19th minute, U.S. midfielder Julie Foudy hit the right post with a header off a cross from striker Mia Hamm. Hamm nearly set up Lilly in the 35th minute, but her diving header flew wide left. Off a 40th-minute free kick from the right flank, Hamm chipped the ball into the penalty area and Parlow met it, sliding, but the ball bounced up, hit the top of the cross bar and rolled out of bounds.

Soon after, defender Cat Reddick and Lilly played a great one-two in the left side of the box with Reddick driving a cross to the far post, but it was just beyond the reach of Hamm who smashed her half-volley into the outside of the net.

In 42nd minute, Wagner slipped a pass to Hamm behind the defense on the right side. Hamm gathered herself and struck a hard cross to the near post where the charging Lilly drew Molina and defender Martha Moore with the ball skipping past all of them to Parlow for an easy goal and a 2-0 advantage.

It was Parlow's 53rd international goal, tying her with Carin Gabarra for fifth all-time among U.S. women. Parlow has played 112 games for the national team while Gabarra retured after 117 caps.

"I'm pleased with the way we played in the first half even though we created fewer chance, and then of course, the opposite was true in the second half when we created chances, but actually didn't play as well," Heinrichs said. "Our game fell apart a little bit, and one of the last things I said to the team tonight was that we certainly left the door open for a better performance on Tuesday."

The U.S. had more near misses in the second half, including when a deflected shot by Lilly hit right post in the 75th minute. Finally, in the third minute of stoppage time, Lilly fired a wicked shot from above the left side of the box. Molina made a diving save, nut left the ball lying at the far post for MacMillan to easily put away for the 3-0 final.

"In the second half, we created a lot more chances and we need to finish our opportunities, but you have to look at the positives," Hamm said. "We got three points, we got three goals against a very good Mexican team and this is just like a World Cup tournament and that's the way you have to approach it. Losing attractively in a tournament like this doesn't help you, it doesn't get you the points. So we are happy with the three points, but we know we have to play better to win this tournament."

Mexico took only two shots on the night, the first in the 39th minute, a strike from 30 yards out that was easily saved by keeper Briana Scurry. The second was a volley by Maribel Dominguez late in the game that was not close to the net.

United States 3, Mexico 0

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Kate Sobrero, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Cat Reddick, Tiffany Roberts (Angela Hucles 46), Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy (captain), Aly Wagner, Mia Hamm (Heather O'Reilly 78), Cindy Parlow (Shannon MacMillan 63). Mexico - Jennifer Molina, Martha Moore, Monica Gonzales, Susana Mora (Guadalupe Worbis 75), Elizabeth Gomez, Fatima Leyva, Dioselina Valderrama, Paty Perez, Monica Gerardo (Monica Vergara 68), Maribel Dominguez, Iris Mora (Yanet Antunez 46).

United States - Wagner (Lilly) 5.
United States - Parlow (Hamm) 42.
United States - MacMillan (Lilly) 93+.

Shots: United States 25, Mexico 2. Saves: United States 1, Mexico 9. Corner kicks: United States 9, Mexico 0 Fouls: United States 7, Mexico 22. Offside: United States 3, Mexico 0. Yellow card caution: Mexico - Valderrama 73.

Referee: Sonia Denoncourt (Canada). Assistant referees: Jackeline Saez (Panama), Paulette Riley (Jamaica). Attendance: 5,568 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Weather: Cool, cloudy, 68 degrees.

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