The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on October 6, 2003 · Page 47
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 47

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SP_D_11_D11_LA_1_10-06-03_mo_1_CMYK 2003:10:05:22:59:08 SOCCER MONDAY,OCTOBER6,2003 D11 LOSANGELESTIMES V.I.P. TICKETS ★ LAKERS ★ LARGEST SELECTION ALL GAMES AVAILABLE 800-328-4253 ★ ALL EVENTS ★ ORDER ON LINE 24 HOURS 14515 VENTURA BLVD. SHERMAN OAKS CA WWW.VIPTICKETS.COM even the hungrier team, and although its play was not as adventurous as that of the U.S., it seldom made a mistake. That did not make the loss any easier for the Americans to accept. “That was perhaps the greatest game ever played in women’s soccer,” said U.S. Coach April Heinrichs. “Our hearts ache.” None more so than those of the youngsters on the American team, youngsters such as midfielder Shannon Boxx of Redondo Beach, who was asked about the five veterans on the U.S. squad — Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly. “I couldn’t look at them,” Boxx said. “I wanted to win this so badly. I know this may be their last World Cup, and it’s really hard because I know that they worked [very hard] for this and we couldn’t win it for them.” Another youngster, midfielder Aly Wagner, said it would serve as inspiration for next year, when the U.S. will seek to win the Olympic gold medal in Athens. “I already have some fire burning in me, if I can get on that team and maybe make a difference,” she said. That’s how it was in 1995, when the defending champion U.S. lost to Norway in the semifinals. It came back the next year to win the Olympic gold in another Athens (Athens, Ga.) and then won back the Women’s World Cup in 1999. For the moment, however, there is Sunday’s loss to overcome. The Americans were always chasing the game. Germany opened scoring 14:41 into the match after a U.S. miscue in the midfield. Kylie Bivens, a surprise starter at right back in place of Christie Pearce, slipped and fell, allowing Prinz to send a pass to Pia Wunderlich in the left corner. Fawcett closed Wunderlich down quickly, directing the ball out for a corner kick, which was taken by Renate Lingor. Lingor’s corner fell into a pack of players in front of the U.S. net, where Garefrekes out- jumped Julie Foudy and sent a header into the U.S. net off the underside of the crossbar. Goalkeeper Briana Scurry and two U.S. defenders standing on the goal line had no chance to stop the ball. The goal marked the first time the U.S. has trailed in a World Cup game since July 1, 1999, when it twice had to come from behind to defeat Germany, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of that year’s Women’s World Cup. Down a goal, Scurry was not overly concerned. “They got the corner and their girl [Garefrekes] nipped in front of whoever and it went off the crossbar and it went in,” she said. “Other than that, they really didn’t have a whole lot going, especially in the first half. “We were at them the whole time. I never once thought that we weren’t going to score. In the second half, we had great chances and their goalkeeper [Silke Rottenberg] came up big. We were unlucky on some. “I still honestly feel that we’re the better team, but sometimes the better team doesn’t win.” The late goals by Meinert and Prinz only served as exclamation points for Germany, which has the opportunity to become the first country to win the men’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup, having won the former three times. At the end, the crowd was on its feet, chanting “USA, USA” as the American players left the field, some crying, all looking drained. It was left to Hamm to sum up what it all meant. “We’re not in the final,” she said, wiping away tears while answering questions after her next- to-last appearance on a World Cup playing field. “And that’s where my head and my heart are right now.” By Grahame L. Jones Times Staff Writer PORTLAND, Ore. — For just alittle while Sunday night, for a mere 14 minutes 11 seconds, to be precise, it seemed as if there would, after all, be a North American team in the Women’s World Cup final. Then Canada’s dream disintegrated. And so there will be an all- European championship match at the Home Depot Center on Sunday, with Sweden providing the opposition for Germany in the 10 a.m. title game. The Swedes got there through hard, unceasing toil, battling back from a goal down to defeat Canada, 2-1, in the second of Sunday’s semifinals. But it was touch and go for a while. For more than an hour, the Canadians and Swedes battled with everything they had, but the goals just would not come. Finally, 63:25 into the match, the first turning point came. Canadian forward Christine Latham was fouled by Swedish defender Jane Tornqvist and referee Katriina Elovirta of Finland awarded Canada a free kick, more than 35 yards out and to the right of the Swedish net. Midfielder Kara Lang stepped up to take it and sent a rising shot screaming toward the far post. Swedish goalkeeper Caroline Joensson dived to her right and got a touch on the ball, but it spun off her fingertips onto the post and into the net. Suddenly, with less than 30 minutes to play, Canada’s storybook tournament seemed about to add another improbable chapter. The Canadians, coached by Even Pellerud, who led Norway to the title in the 1995 Women’s World Cup, had never won a World Cup match before this championship, but they survived the first round, beat China in the quarterfinals and here they were leading Sweden in the semifinals. The moment of fame lasted only 15 minutes. Sweden Coach Marika Domanski Lyfors, who had been nervously pacing the sideline, all too conscious of how the United States had been undone earlier in the day by its inability to finish, made a couple of substitutions. The moves lifted Sweden and Malin Mostrom, whose shooting had been off target most of the evening, finally got a shot on frame and tied the score 78:13 into the game. Taking a quick free kick from the energetic Victoria Svensson, Mostrom rocketed a shot that gave impressive Canadian goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek no chance. Pellerud was left shaking his head on the sideline. Had Canada won, he had the chance to become the first coach in history to lead two countries to a World Cup title. In the 86th minute, Sweden, which out-shot Canada, 17-6, grabbed the game winner. Svensson fed Hanna Ljungberg, whose shot was blocked, but the rebound fell kindly for Josefine Oeqvist, one of Sweden’s late substitutes, and she powered it into the back of the net off the left post. Pellerud turned away in disgust. “I usually count goal chances,” Pellerud said. “I think Sweden had some more than we did. I can’t complain about the result because of that. “In general, my team was a little bit slower [in] thinking and acting today than against China. Idon’t know why.” Said Lyfors: “It could have been Canada with a bit of luck.” Staff writer Randy Harvey contributed to this report. Close Just Doesn’t Count for Canada Improbable title hopes die hard as Sweden instead gets a shot with a 2-1 semifinal victory. tacular performance in either a World Cup or an Olympics. She has acknowledged that she was so unsure of herself in big moments that she didn’t want to take one of the penalty kicks in the victory over China in the 1999 final at the Rose Bowl. She took one and scored. It appeared, though, as if she were on her way to making this P ORTLAND, Ore. — U.S. Coach April Heinrichs called it the “perhaps the greatest game ever played in women’s soccer,” and considering how many games she has seen since she played in the first Women’s World Cup in 1991, who’s going to argue? But knowing the players on her team, several who were her teammates 12 years ago when the United States triumphed in China, that will not be much consolation. They certainly won’t want that to become their legacy, that they played great almost to the bitter end of a 3-0 loss to Germany on Sunday at PGE Park. Knowing players such as Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly, they will want to be remembered for persevering after losses in the 2000 Summer Olympic final and the 2003 World Cup semifinals, then regrouping to win the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. That no doubt is what some were already thinking as they collapsed to the field in exhaustion and tears after the grueling game because that is the type of determined, strong-willed women we have come to know them as. But just as time ran out on them in this game and in this World Cup, you have to wonder if time also has run out on a dynasty that included championships in two World Cups and one Olympics. The rest of the world is catching up to the Americans. If Sunday’s game is an indication, Germany has passed them like a Mercedes on the autobahn. Several German players were on the field in the quarterfinals of the 1999 World Cup in Washington, where they twice led the United States before losing, 3-2. The Germans say now they lost that game because they didn’t believe they could win. They were so in awe of the Americans that German midfielder Maren Meinert said some of her teammates were tempted to ask them for autographs after the game. The Germans celebrated after this one. But not for long. They have a championship game to play this coming Sunday in Carson. What is the statute of limitations on second-guessing? Eight days before the semifinal game, in the final game of first-round play, Heinrichs chose to rest some of her starters, including Hamm, against North Korea. In retrospect, that might have been a mistake. Although Hamm is the leading all-time goal scorer in women’s soccer, she has yet to have a truly spec- her World Cup. Brimming with confidence, she had three assists against Sweden and, in perhaps her best game ever, she had two goals and an assist against Nigeria. But she sat against North Korea. She wasn’t exactly MIA after that, but neither was she the magical Mia of before. The spell had been broken. In Heinrichs’ defense, she must have seen the same thing that most everyone else did. Even while the United States was dominating its first-round group, it was apparent at times that some of the veterans had lost a step in the last four years. That includes Hamm, who turned 31 in March. Heinrichs must have believed that Hamm would need rest if she were to play at a high level for the rest of the tournament. It also was important to give young players such as Kylie Bivens and Aly Wagner experience on the sport’s ultimate stage if they are expected to play significant roles in the team’s future, which, based on Sunday’s result, could be here sooner than later. Asked to summarize her feelings for this year’s U.S. team, Heinrichs said she was proud. She meant that she was proud of the effort in this game, the fact that the Americans, as did the Germans, played aggressive, attacking soccer for 90 minutes. But she also could have been talking about the careers of her veteran players, who should be credited not only for winning so many games on the field but for creating a phenomenon off of it. The ponytailed hooligans, as their young fans from coast to coast are known, were out in full force Sunday with their soccer moms and dads. Many among the crowd of 27,623 painted their faces red, white and blue and wore T-shirts with their favorite players’ names on the back. Two notable exceptions were the women who streaked across the field early in the second half. They wore nothing. The U.S. women also inspired a professional league, which folded days before this tournament began but has earned a second chance. In doing so, they also contributed to their own defeat. Meinert, who was the WU- SA’s most valuable player last season for Boston, said she was considering retirement until her husband persuaded her to rejoin the German team for the World Cup. She also was persuaded by the pleas from the U.S. players in the WUSA, who told her that all the best players should play in the World Cup. She returned the favor by breaking their hearts, scoring the goal in stoppage time that gave Germany a 2-0 lead. Forward Birgit Prinz, who played for Carolina in the WUSA, scored the final goal. Someday, the U.S. players will realize how much they did for women’s soccer. Maybe after Athens. Randy Harvey can be reached at randy.harvey@la- times.com. R ANDY H ARVEY Poignantly, U.S. Success Plants Seed for the Defeat Gina Ferazzi Los Angeles Times NO WAY IN: German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg makes a save on shot by Abby Wambach, center front, as Mia Hamm (9) closes in. Los An g eles Time s Women’s World Cup United States1 Norway0 Germany7 Russia1 Brazil1 Sweden2 China0 Canada1 United States 0 Sweden2 Germany3 Canada1 Germany Sweden The third-place game: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Carson (All times Pacific) Thursday Wednesday Thursday Wednesday Portland, Ore. Portland, Ore. Sunday, 10 a.m., Carson ChampionshipSemifinalQuarterfinal GERMANY 3, UNITED STATES 0 Germany..........................................................12—3 United States...................................................00—0 First half—1, Germany, Garefrekes 4, 15th minute. Second half—2, Germany, Meinert 3, 91st+. 3, Germany, Prinz 7, 93rd+. Yellow Cards—None. Red Cards—None. Referees—Sonia Denoncourt, Canada. Linesmen—Denise Robinson, Canada; Linda Bramble, Trinidad. Lineups GERMANY—Silke Rottenberg, Kerstin Stegemann, Sandra Minnert, Ariane Hingst, Stefanie Gottschlich, Renate Lingor, Pia Wunderlich, Bettina Wiegmann, Kerstin Garefrekes, Birgit Prinz, Sandra Minnert. U.S.—Briana Scurry, Kylie Bivens (Tiffeny Milbrett, 70th), Cat Reddick, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero, Shannon Boxx, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow (Aly Wagner, 52nd), Abby Wambach. SWEDEN 2, CANADA 1 Sweden...........................................................02—2 Canada...........................................................01—1 First half—None. Second half—1, Canada, Lang 2, 64th minute. 2, Sweden, Mostroem 2, 79th. 3, Sweden, Oeqvist 1, 86th. Yellow Cards—Sweden, Toernqvist, 64th minute. Red Cards—None. Referee—Katriina Elovirta, Finland. Linesmen—Emilia Parviainen, Finland; Andi Regan, Northern Ireland. A—27,623. Lineups CANADA—Taryn Swiatek, Sharolta Nonen, Brittany Timko, Kara Lang, Diana Matheson, Andrea Neil, Tanya Dennis, Silvana Burtini (Kristina Kiss, 55th), Christine Sinclair, Charmaine Hooper, Christine Latham (Rhian Wilkinson, 74th). SWEDEN—Caroline Joensson, Karolina Westberg, Jane Toernqvist, Hanna Marklund, Kristin Bengtsson (Sara Johansson, 75th), Frida Oestberg, Anna Sjoestroem (Josefine Oeq- vist, 70th), Malin Andersson (Therese Sjoegran, 70th), Malin Mostroem, Victoria Svensson, Hanna Ljungberg. Anacleto Rapping Los Angeles Times FINAL GOAL: With U.S. sacrificing defense in stoppage time, goalkeeper Briana Scurry is unable to stop a shot by Birgit Prinz. Garefrekes’ Goal Sets Up Germany [ World Cup, from Page D1 ] SUMMARIES

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