Monday, September 29, 2003

World Cup: U.S. 3, North Korea 0


Hamm gets break while U.S. plays on

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLUMBUS - Dominant and intense in its first two Women's World Cup matches, the United States resembled a team just trying to get by without its star player Sunday at Columbus Crew Stadium.

U.S. coach April Heinrichs kept Mia Hamm out of the lineup against North Korea, and it showed in the Americans' unspectacular first-half play. But two second-half goals from defender Cat Reddick put some life into the U.S team, which won 3-0 in front of 22,828 fans. The U.S., the winner of Group A with nine points, moves on to face Norway in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Foxboro, Mass.

There is a rich history between the U.S. and Norway. The U.S. defeated Norway for the 1991 World Cup title, and the Norwegians returned the favor in the '95 semis.

Heinrichs didn't start Hamm on Sunday because she wanted to rest the midfielder for the Norway match. Heinrichs said she planned to play Hamm 30 to 45 minutes Sunday, but elected not to insert her after Reddick scored on a header in the 66th minute. Hamm is the all-time leading goal scorer, male or female, in international competition. She has scored two goals in the 2003 Women's World Cup.

"As soon as we got the second goal, and definitely the third one, I knew I wasn't going in there," said Hamm, whose fiancÈ, Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, was in attendance. "That was fine with me. This is about a team, not about one player. You balance between wanting to stay sharp and wanting to get rest."

The usual starting midfielder, Julie Foudy, did not play until the second half but made an immediate impact. Foudy headed a corner kick to Reddick, who bounced the ball off of her stomach and into the net in the 48th minute for a 2-0 lead and her first goal as a national-team member.

"What a great moment for her to get two goals," Heinrichs said.

Twelve minutes after Reddick's first goal, U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry preserved the shutout when she swatted away a high shot from North Korea's Pyol Hui Jin, who had gotten loose on a breakaway. It was the first real threat from the North Korean team that used a ball-control style to keep the U.S. from too much of an advantage.

The U.S. led from the outset after Abby Wambach converted a penalty kick in the 16th minute. North Korea was called for holding in the penalty area on a play in which the U.S. scored, but the penalty negated the goal.

Sunday's match was the first sellout of the tournament, primarily because the U.S. team played in a small stadium for the first time. Its first two games were played at Washington's RKF Memorial Stadium and Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, both of which seat more than 50,000. Crew Stadium seats the fewest of the six World Cup stadiums.

The intimacy of the stadium made the fans' "We want Mia" chants sound that much louder.

"It's a disappointment, but she's always the first to celebrate a team win," Heinrichs said.




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