Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Norwegians will provide first test


Americans have struggled vs. nemesis

The Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. - Versatility and depth got the U.S. women this far. Now, they'll probably need the old standbys to advance further in the World Cup.

The Americans face their nemesis, Norway, in the quarterfinals Wednesday. With no room for error, the United States winds up with a match against the only nation that owns a winning record against it: 18-16-2. The U.S. team is ranked first in the world and Norway is second.

But because Norway finished behind Brazil in its opening-round group, the crossover schedule puts the Norwegians directly in the Americans' path. Norway won the 1995 World Cup after beating the United States in the semifinals, then it defeated the Americans to win the 2000 Olympics.

Such U.S. veterans as Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy can't expect any more time off for the rest of the tournament.

"They're a tremendous team," said Hamm, who sat out Sunday's 3-0 victory over North Korea. "They're a team that with one service forward can put the ball in the back of the net. We understand that and we respect that."

Lilly and Foudy, who each played a half against the Koreans, and Hamm and defender Joy Fawcett are in their fourth World Cup. They've had memorable meetings with the Norwegians, from a 2-1 victory in the 1991 World Cup final to a 1-0 loss in the '95 Cup semis; from a 2-1 overtime win for the 1996 Olympic crown to a 3-2 overtime loss in the finals in Sydney.

The teams did not meet in the 1999 World Cup, where Norway was routed by China 5-0 in the semifinals - in Foxboro.

Norway got two goals each from captain Dagny Mellgren and Linda Ormen Saturday and routed South Korea 7-1 after a previous 4-1 loss to Brazil.

U.S. vs. Norway

What: World Cup quarterfinal.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

TV: ESPN2.




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