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Women's World Cup

Incredible Hamm lifts United States to 3-0 shutout of Denmark.

By Gary Davidson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Saturday, June 19, 1999) -- In the weeks prior to the start of the 1999 Women's World Cup, United States striker Mia Hamm received more media attention than the rest of her teammates combined.

She lived up to her press clippings yesterday, scoring one goal, assisting on another second and turning in an altogether memorable effort in leading the United States over Denmark 3-0 in the tournament's opening match before a Giants Stadium crowd of 78,972, the most ever to witness a women's sports event.

"I guess I'll read about it in the paper tomorrow," Hamm joked after the match. "There are so many great stories on this team. I wish they'd spread (the coverage) around. But it's great you guys (the media) have embraced this tournament."

That press coverage helped produced the packed house that cheered the Americans' every move. "This crowd was unbelievable," Hamm said. "Julie (Foudy, the team captain) was speechless and that's not easy to do. It was a very proud moment."

Hamm treated the capacity crowd to maybe her best in a FIFA international tournament. In addition to putting her team ahead for good in the 17th minute and assisting Foudy who made it 2-0 in the 73d, Hamm placed perfect passes on the feet of teammates in the penalty area four other times. She also backtracked to make several tackles in the defensive half.

"Tomorrow's a new day. Nigeria's a new team," said Hamm of the Americans' next opponent Thursday at Chicago's Soldier Field. "I just want to do whatever it takes my team. If that means working hard defensively, not getting a shot on goal, if we still win, that's fine with me. We just want to advance and get better as a team."

In the 17th minute, defender Brandi Chastain sent a long pass to Hamm in the right side of the box. Hamm pulled the ball down with a chest trap to her right foot, cut back and lofted a ball to her left foot to elude defender Katrine Pedersen, and then drilled a 15-yard shot into the near top corner well beyond the reach of goalkeeper Dorthe Larsen to make it 1-0. It was Hamm's world-best 110th international goal.

"We had been struggling to get it going early, mostly because of nerves" said Foudy, who treated the crowd to an Austin Powers go-go dance move after her tally. Hamm "was bouncing the ball off her body and I didn't think she was going to get to it. When she made the goal, I think we were all like 'Yeah, yeah, we're going to be OK.' "

Seven minutes later, Hamm set up striker Cindy Parlow whose 12 blast was stopped by Larsen with her left foot, with the ball caroming off the left post and away from danger.

"I'm really happy for Mia because people are always talking about her," said Denmark midfielder Mikka Hansen, a California native, product of American youth soccer and Santa Clara University graduate whose father Per is Danish. "She's the best player in the world and she scored a great goal and she played a great game. I'm very happy for her. They played well, with a lot of confidence. People were worried about them being really tense, but they were having a good time and they maintained their composure."

The U.S. survived a scare in the second minute when Denmark midfielder Lene Jensen Revsbeck cut inside defensive midfielder Michelle Akers for a free run down the center. Jensen Revsbeck located Gitte Krogh open in the right side of the box, but U.S. keeper Briana Scurry took away the near side and Krogh's shot from a sharp angler rolled across the goal mouth and harmlessly away.

"I think people are na´ve if they think we're not going to give a good team like Denmark some chances," U.S. assistant coach Lauren Gregg said.

U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco, at the suggestion of Gregg, made a strategic adjustment at intermission, moving Kristine Lilly from the midfield forward and dropping striker Cindy Parlow back to the middle. The move worked as intended with the tall Parlow and Michelle Akers winning headers in the midfielder and with Lilly establishing better possession on the front line. The American dominance in the first 45 minutes became even more pronounced in the second half.

In the 73d minute, Hamm worked into the right side of the box and sent a cross that went just over the head of Lilly in front of the goal to Foudy on the left. Her 12-yard shot scraped the bottom of the crossbar on its way in.

"I think it was a great game for (Hamm)," said midfielder\striker Kristine Lilly, who finished the scoring in the 89th minute off an assist from defender Joy Fawcett. "To her, she's playing her soccer. But as I say, I think her next game will be her best game.. It was nice to finish a goal after having missed chances."

First Round
Group A

United States 3
Denmark 0
United States - Hamm (1) (Chastain) 17;
United States - Foudy (1) (Hamm) 73;
United States - Lilly (1) (Fawcett) 89.

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett (Shannon MacMillan 82), Cindy Parlow, Mia Hamm (Lorrie Fair 88); Denmark - Dorthe Larsen, Karina Christensen, Lene Terp. Jeanne Axelsen, Janne Rasmussen, Christina Peterson (Lise Sondergaard 83), Gitte Krogh, Merete Pedersen, Lene Jensen Revsbeck (Louise Hansen 78), Katrine Pedersen, Mikka Hansen (Janni Johansen 63).

Shots: United States 24, Denmark 9. Saves: United States 2, Denmark 4. Corner kicks: United States 9, Denmark 3. Fouls: United States 13, Denmark 11. Offside: United States 11, Denmark 1. Yellow card caution: Denmark - Rasmussen 11.

Referee: Sonia Denoncourt (Canada). Assistant referees: Ghislaine Peron-Labbe (France), Hisae Yoshizawa (Japan). Attendance: 78,972 at Giants Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J. Weather: Sunny, 79 degrees.

Biggest Crowds for Women's Soccer (as of June 19, 1999)
Attendance Opponents Site Match Date
78,972 U.S.A.-Denmark East Rutherford, N.J. World Cup Jun 19, 1999
76,489 U.S.A.-China Athens, Ga. Olympics Aug 1, 1996
65,000 U.S.A.-China Guangzhou, China World Cup Nov 30, 1991
64,196 U.S.A.-Norway Athens, Ga. Olympics Jul 28, 1996
46,724 China-Sweden Miami, Fla. Olympics Jul 21, 1996

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