The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on October 3, 2003 · Page 178
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 178

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Friday, October 3, 2003
Page 178
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SP_D_13_D13_LA_1_10-03-03_fr_2_CMYK 2003:10:02:23:40:20 SOCCER , FRIDAY,OCTOBER3,2003 D13 LOSANGELESTIMES By Jim Barrero Times Staff Writer The United States, coming off a quarterfinal appearance in the last World Cup in Japan and South Korea, will begin its quest for a berth in Germany 2006 in mid-January, CONCACAF announced. Soccer’s regional governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean said the World Cup qualifying schedule for its 34 teams would begin Jan. 17 and 18 and require almost two years to complete. Unlike in past years, no team will receive a first-round bye, and the region initially will be divided into 10 groups of three and two groups of two. The 12 group winners will then move on to the semifinals, scheduled to begin Aug. 18. From there, three groups of four will play the semifinal stage to determine the last six teams. Those six would begin a 10-game schedule Feb. 9, 2005, and complete the process Oct. 12, 2005, with the top three earning automatic World Cup berths. The fourth-place team would be drawn into a two- game playoff against another confederation Nov. 12 and 16, 2005, with a chance to give CONCACAF a fourth World Cup team for the first time. Euro 2004 In preparation for the final qualifying round for Euro 2004 on Oct. 11, teams all over the continent began formulating their rosters. Some notable moves: 8 Striker Robbie Keane returns for Ireland against group leader Switzerland after sitting out the last game against Russia because of an ankle injury. 8 Midfielder Darren Fletcher , 19, was called up for Scotland’s game against Lithuania. Also Thursday, Fletcher signed a contract extension with Manchester United through 2006-07. 8 Midfielder Michael Ballack was included on Germany’s roster for its game against Iceland, but the Bayern Munich star might have to sit out because of an ankle injury. Club America Club America of Mexico celebrated its 87th anniversary Wednesday and delivered a 2-0 victory over Spain’s FC Barcelona in a friendly at Mexico City. Acrowd of 90,000 at Azteca Stadium watched the home team get goals from Hugo Norberto Castillo and Frankie Oviedo in what also served as a farewell game for Mexico international striker Luis Roberto Alves , better known by his nickname ”Zague.” Quick Passes Italy and Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero signed acontract extension with the club through the 2007-08 season worth an average of $9.3 million a year....Three weeks after the Women’s World Cup final, the U.S. women’s national team will play Mexico in a friendly at Dallas on Nov. 2. Times wire services contributed to this report. DAILY REPORT World Cup Qualifying Schedule Set Soccer At Portland,Ore. GERMANY 7, RUSSIA 1 Russia........................................................01—1 Germany.....................................................16—7 First half—1, Germany, Mueller 2, 25th minute. Second half—2, Germany, Minnert 2, 57th. 3, Germany, Wunderlich 1, 60th. 4, Germany, Garefrekes 2, 62nd. 5, Russia, Danilova 1, 70th. 6, Germany, Prinz 5, 80th. 7, Germany, Garefrekes 3, 85th. 8, Germany, Prinz 6, 89th. Yellow Cards—None. Red Cards—None. Referees—Im Young joo, Korea. Linesman—Choi Soo Jin, Korea; Iriana Mirt, Romania. A—NA. Lineups RUSSIA—Alla Volkova, Vera Strukova, Marina Saenko, Marina Burakova, Tatiana Zaytseva, Alexandra Svetlit- skaya (Elena Denchtchik, 34th), Tatiana Skotnikova, Tatiana Egorova (Marina Kolomiets, 75th), Galina Komaro- va, Olga Letyushova (Elena Danilova, 46th), Natalia Barbachina. GERMANY—Silke Rottenberg, Stefanie Gottschlich, Ariane Hingst, Sandra Minnert, Kerstin Stegemann, Kerstin Garefrekes, Bettina Wiegmann (Nia Kuenzer, 66th), Renate Lingor (Viola Odebrecht, 82nd), Maren Meinert, Martina Mueller (Pia Wunderlich, 57th), Birgit Prinz. CANADA 1, CHINA 0 Canada.......................................................10—1 China..........................................................00—0 First half—1, Canada, Hooper 2, 7th minute. Second half—None. Yellow Cards—Lang, Canada, 42nd; Andrea Neil, 53rd; Charmaine Hooper, 76th; Teng Wei, 92nd. Red Cards—None. Referees—Kari Seitz, United States. Linesmen—Karalee Sutton, United States, Sharon Wheeler, United States. A—20,021. Lineups CANADA—Taryn Swiatek, Isabelle Morneau (Silvana Burtini, 13th), Sharolta Nonen, Andrea Neil, Diana Matheson, Kara Lang (Kristina Kiss, 90th), Brittany Timko, Christine Latham (Rhian Wilkinson, 73rd), Charmaine Hooper, Christine Sinclair, Tanya Dennis. CHINA—Han Wenxia, Li Jie, Fan Yunjie, Wang Liping, Liu Yali (Teng Wei), Pu Wei, Liu Ying, (Zhang Ouying), Zhao Yan (Ren Liping), Bi Yan, Sun Wen, Bai Jie. WOMEN’S WORLD CUP SUMMARIES her by Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. But there was no relief. The media pack encircled her. If she could have jumped up and bolted, the sense was that she would have. Instead, she stuck it out, answering questions she hadan- swered a thousand times before in a career that stretches back more than 16 years, a career that very likely will end after the Olympic Games next summer in Athens. Hamm is 31 now. She will be 32 then. It is time to move on. ABritish reporter asked Hamm before the U.S.’s 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Norway Wednesday night what comes after that, after she has hung up her size-5 1 ⁄ 2 boots. “To be honest with you, I ha- ven’t even thought about anything outside,” she replied. “My focus is on Norway and what I can do individually and how I can help my team get the result that we need and that we want. When this [tournament] is over, I’ll concentrate on that, but right now my focus and my heart are right there.” It was a typical Hamm answer. When reporters try to delve into her personal life or try to discover just what it is that makes Mia Hamm Mia Hamm, she doesn’t withdraw so much as deflect. She has become adept at giving long, detailed and usually interesting answers that often have nothing to do with the question. She has changed, however, since her first marriage ended in divorce after seven years in 2001, and even more so since Garcia- parra, a fellow athlete also at the peak of his game, became part of her life. In a rare revealing moment recently, she admitted as much when asked about her increased on-field leadership of the U.S. team. “I don’t know what it is,” she said. “I really haven’t kind of watched me. I know how I feel and I know I feel better. I feel better physically, emotionally and psychologically and that makes ahuge difference.” The difference certainly shows in her play. Always keenly competitive, ever since she made her national team debut as a shy but incredibly talented 15-year- old in 1987, she has been able in this Women’s World Cup to raise her game to an even higher level. After Hamm had scored two goals and assisted on a third in a 5-0 demolition of Nigeria — this only a few days after she had created all three goals in a 3-1 defeat of Sweden — U.S. Coach April Heinrichs was unstinting in her praise. “What a wonderful inspiration she is to this team,” Heinrichs said after the Sweden game, in which Hamm, after providing the perfect corner kick for Shannon Boxx to head in the third U.S. goal, sprintedup the sideline and slapped hands with every player on the American bench. It was the most spontaneous and delightful of moves, an exhilarating flashback to the Hamm of old, to the laughing teenager delighted in her own skill at the game she loves. “Mia’s play on and off the ball was magnificent,” Heinrichs said after the Nigeria game, a game in which Hamm was fouled time and again, hammered to the turf in brutal fashion, but answered the best way she knows how — by twice putting the ball in the back of the net. Hamm has scored 144 international goals, more than any other soccer player, male or female, in history. But those very goals have forced her into the spotlight that she just as soon would shun. Even before the World Cup began, and while the U.S. team was undergoing final preparations at the University of Virginia, Hamm talked about fame and the attendant distractions it brings. “I understand the responsibility that comes with it, I do,” she said. “But at the same time I’m a part of a team and I’m no better or any worse than any single player on this team. That’s the approach that I’ve always had and I will continue to have. “It’s not all about me. It’s never been all about me. If it had [been], this would have been a really lonely journey.” Heinrichs, too, has seen the changes in Hamm. She says they are due not only to her newfound personal happiness but also to the influence of the Women’s United Soccer Assn. (WUSA). “I don’t know that her personality has changed so much,” Heinrichs said. “I just think she’s more comfortable with who she is. “I think all these women [on the U.S. team] are a little bit better leaders than they were four years ago because when you get taken away from the national team and put in another pool of players you have to lead, and she [Hamm] has led Washington.” Hamm, along with U.S. teammate Abby Wambach, carried the Freedom to the WUSA title this season, giving Hamm one more championship in a career filled with them — four NCAA championships at the University of North Carolina, two world championships, Olympic gold and silver medals, the list goes on and on. But the ups have been matched by the downs, as injuries and on-field disappointments have beenfelt in recent years. “Athletics is so much about this wave that you ride,” Hamm said. “The greatest athletes in the world either make those peaks and valleys less noticeable or are really good at hiding them from people.” Mia Hamm has not been hiding during the World Cup. She has been a force on the field and has been more available than ever off the field, even though she would just as soon see the focus on someone else. The emotions are still there, too — the fist slamming the turf in anger at a missed shot, the glare that can melt the yellow cards in a referee’s pocket after a bad call. “I’ve always been a person and a player who has kind of worn their emotions on their sleeve,” she said. “Probably the best thing for me is to surround myself with people, or confide in people, who help me temper it a bit. “I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t always make the right decisions and, as I’ve said before, I don’t always let things go. And you have to, because in this game, and in sports in general, there tend to be a lot more failures than successes.” But there’s something else in play this time around. Hamm knows that this is the next-to-last ride, afarewell tour in her home country. This is her fourth and final World Cup and she not only wants to win it but enjoy it. “Sometimes when you’re younger you just assume that you’re going to play in another World Cup,” she said, acknowledging that there will be no more for her after this one. “I didn’t really enjoy [past World Cups] as much as I should have. This time I’m trying to. It’s agoal of mine not to just go, ‘OK, we’ve played Nigeria, let’s move on to the next game.’” The next game, in this case, was against North Korea, and Hamm, seated in that wooden- armed chair, holding on for dear life, was being bombarded by questions about the game’s alleged political significance. She handled them with aplomb, saying that while perceived political undertones might interest some, they did not interest her. “I’m not going to stand next to someone on a corner kick or a goal kick and ask them, ‘So, what’s going on in North Korea?’” she said. “I think all players are proud of who and what they represent. The opportunity to represent your country means a lot to all of us. We’re out there playing for the friends and family and the people that we represent and that care about us. If that’s a political statement, then yes [there are political undertones to the game]. “But that 90 minutes is about women who love to play this game and the best way they can celebrate that is by playing hard.” Mia Hamm has always played hard. The pity is, her playing days are nearing their end. Life beckons and it’s time to move on. Hamm’s Greatest Hits Acollection of the most significant of Mia Hamm’s world-record 144 international goals: 1 July 25, 1990 vs. Norway. Her first goal for the national team came in a 4-0 victory in Winnipeg, Canada. 13 Nov. 17, 1991 vs. Sweden. Hamm’s first World Cup goal came in a 3-2 victory in Panyu, China. 100 Sept. 18, 1998 vs. Russia. Scored in a 4-0 victory in Rochester, N.Y., it made Hamm only the fourth woman to reach 100 goals. 108 May 22, 1999 vs. Brazil. By scoring in a 3-0 victory in Orlando, Hamm passed Italy’s Elisabetta Vignotto as the all-time career leader. 110 June 19, 1999 vs. Denmark. A goal early in a 3-0 victory over Denmark before a packed house at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., got the World Cup off to an electric start. 136 Nov. 9, 2002 vs. Canada. The biggest goal Hamm has scored in Southern California gave the U.S. a 2-1 overtime victory at the Rose Bowl and the championship of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament. 144 Sept. 25, 2003 vs. Nigeria. A free kick during a 5-0 victory in Philadelphia gave Hamm her first two-goal World Cup game. Talent, Work Ethic, Leadership Set Her Apart [ Hamm, from Page D1 ] Anacleto Rapping Los Angeles Times IT’S A KICK: Mia Hamm says she is trying to enjoy her last World Cup, in which the U.S. has reached the semifinals. By Randy Harvey Times Staff Writer PORTLAND, Ore. —The left- footed pass from Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson went deep into the penalty area in front of China’s goal. Charmaine Hooper leaped high into the air, her back to the goal, and headed the ball. It sailed over the outstretched hands of Chinese goalkeeper Han Wenxia and into the net. Less than seven minutes into the game Thursday night at PGE Park, Canada led. The Chinese were stunned. The Canadians seemed more stunned. But they held on desperately for 83 more minutes before their unlikely lead turned into an even more unlikely 1-0 victory, the biggest surprise of the Women’s World Cup as the Canadians, ranked 12th in the world, upset the fourth-ranked Chinese. The Canadians seemed too tired, or maybe too shocked, to celebrate afterward with more than hugs, unlike the many raucous Canadian fans among the crowd of 20,021. Canada, which had never won agame in the World Cup before this year, much less a quarterfinal game, now advances to the semifinals at PGE Park on Sunday night against Sweden. “Four years ago, I would never have imagined this,” said Canadian Coach Even Pellerud, who credited the victory to hard work and “a passion to win.” For the Chinese, the loss ended a traumatic year. It was their most disappointing World Cup since the first one in 1991, when they lost in the quarterfinals at home. They advanced to the semifinals in 1995 and the final in 1999 and seemed confident that they would finally win the championship this year, again scheduled to play at home. But the SARS epidemic caused FIFA, the international soccer federation, to move the tournament to the U.S. The Chinese, who were forced to move their training camp to a less infected area, never seemed to regain their balance. Their coach, Ma Liangxing, acknowledged that the Chinese weren’t the same team they were in 1999, but he said that they would become stronger as the tournament progressed because of the experience that new players were gaining. As the Chinese struggled to win Group D with two wins and a tie, it became increasingly doubtful that they would be in Carson on Oct. 12 for the anticipated championship rematch against the United States. The U.S. won four years ago at the Rose Bowl, 5-4, on penalty kicks. China had its chances against Canada, the best one coming in the eighth minute, one minute after Hooper had scored when Sun Wen’s free kick from 24 yards hit the crossbar and bounced harmlessly away. The Chinese are known as the Steel Roses, but it was the Canadians who were steely. That was particularly true of the tightly packed defense, led by Hooper. She is a converted forward, who obviously still knows how to score, and her determined play while holding her teammates together made her goal all the more memorable. Canada Stuns China and Itself Winners are too tired or shocked to really celebrate after upsetting fourth-ranked team, 1-0. Associated Press SCRAMBLE: Canada’s Christine Latham is challenged by China’s Bi Yan and Liu Ying. By Randy Harvey Times Staff Writer PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials from FIFA, the international soccer federation, arranged the pairings of the Women’s World Cup so that it would be possible for the United States to meet China in the championship game, a rematch of the dramatic 1999 final. It’s too bad they couldn’t have seen into the future and arranged for the United States to meet Germany on Oct. 12 at the Home Depot Center in Carson,because it appears now that would have been the best final. Instead, the United States and Germany will meet in the semifinals here at PGE Park on Sunday, in a game that, based on their play in the tournament so far, will probably determine the champion. They have been by far the most impressive teams through the quarterfinals. If its 7-1 victory over Russia on Thursday night at PGE Park is an indication, Germany has been the most impressive team. The United States won its quarterfinal match, 1-0, on Wednesday night in Foxboro, Mass., over Norway. The Germans have won their four games by a combined score of 20-2. The United States has scored 12 goals and allowed one in its four victories. But the Germans emphasize that their competition has been easier. “I think we’ve had an easy — easy is maybe the wrong word — but we were lucky to be in the group with Japan and Argentina,” German Coach Tina Theune-Meyer said, adding that only Canada challenged her team in Group C. “Today, the Russian team was not at the highest level.” That was an understatement. Germany’s victory was the most lopsided in a quarterfinal since the United States beat Taiwan, 7-0, in the first Women’s World Cup in 1991. The Russians seemed to know they had little chance, perhaps because their record against the Germans before the game was 0-8-2. Russia’s only hope was to play negatively, forming a bunker in front of its goal and hoping that the Germans would leave themselves open to a counterattack. It didn’t work. The Russians didn’t have a shot on goal until the 68th minute, though their defense did frustrate the Germans well into the second half. Theune-Meyer made a crucial adjustment in the first half, opening space in front of the goal by spreading her forwards. Martina Mueller, who was in the center, scored almost immediately, in the 25th minute, after a through pass from midfielder Maren Meinert, who showed why she was the most valuable player in the WUSA while playing for Boston. The Germans didn’t score again until Sandra Minnert’s goal in the 57th minute, and Russia no longer could play de- fensively. “During the second half, we tried to play open football with the German team,” Russian Coach Yuri Bystritsky said. “This is the first time we’ve ever allowed ourselves to play like that against them.” It wasn’t a good idea. The Germans scored two more goals within five minutes, Kerstin Garefrekes finding the net after a corner kick for a 4-0 lead. Russia finally scored in the 70th minute, eliciting laughter from its bench. On their bench, meantime, the Germans were stoned-faced. The tournament’s leading scorer, forward Birgit Prinz, was at her best from that point on, scoring twice and assisting on another goal with a brilliant back pass. She has six goals in four games. She was named player of the game but that didn’t make her happy. “I thought I missed too many chances,” she said. The Germans said they are looking forward to playing the United States, to see whether they are ready to overtake the Americans. Germany led the United States twice when they met in the quarterfinals in 1999 before losing, 3-2. “I think we have a good team,” Prinz said. “But I don’t know how good our opponents have been up to now. We don’t know how good we are. The Americans know they can beat everybody.” Germany Striking in Rout of Russia Its impressive 7-1 victory in quarterfinal sets up semifinal match against the United States, the other dominant player in the World Cup. Women’s World Cup United States1 Norway0 Germany7 Russia1 Brazil1 Sweden2 China0 Canada1 United States Sweden Germany Canada The third-place game: Oct. 11, 12:30 p.m., Carson (All times Pacific) Thursday Wednesday Thursday Wednesday Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Portland, Ore. Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Portland, Ore. Oct. 12, 10 a.m., Carson ChampionshipSemifinalQuarterfinal

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