The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on October 12, 2003 · Page 50
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 50

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SP_D_4_D4_LA_1_10-12-03_su_1_CMYK 2003:10:11:23:00:36 D4 SUNDAY,OCTOBER12,2003 , SOCCER LOSANGELESTIMES By Grahame L. Jones Times Staff Writer Brandi Chastain was fielding questions Saturday afternoon. The topic, inevitably, was soccer and specifically today’sWomen’s World Cup championship match between Germany and Sweden. Will it draw any sort of crowd to the Home Depot Center? Chastain frowned at the question, behind which was the unspoken assumption that be- causethe United States is not in the final, few will be interested. “I hope it’s a packed house,” Chastain said. “It deserves to be a packed house. Those are two fine teams. “People didn’t buy tickets only because they thought they’d see the U.S. They knew they’d see a competitive game for a championship. They [Germany and Sweden] are worthy of having a packed house.” Standing a few feet away, Mia Hamm turned her thoughts to the game itself and to the sort of spectacle it might present. “Goalkeeping is going to be extremely important,” she said. That much is clear. Germany has scored 23 goals in its five matches leading to the final, including six against Argentina and seven against Russia. The reigning European champions have the tournament’s top goal scorer, Birgit Prinz. Prinz, who has seven goals, is more than ably supported by Kerstin Garefrekes, who has four, Maren Meinert, with three, and by Martina Mueller, Bettina Wiegmann and Sandra Min- nert, who have two each. Sweden, meanwhile, comes into the game with a “devil’s triangle” of forwards in Victoria Svensson, Hanna Ljungberg and Malin Mos- troem. All three have different strengths, but the common thread that links them is the desire to be constantly on the attack. Svensson, who has three goals, and Ljungberg and Mostroem, who have two each, might not have the sort of numbers boasted by Prinz, but that does not make them any less dangerous. “The Swedish front-runners get behind you,” Hamm said. “They hold the ball, and they play so well off each other. “At the same time, you have Birgit and Maren on the other side. It’ll be a tough match.” Of the neutral observers, Canada Coach Even Pellerud is perhaps best-qualified to comment on the final. He was Norway’s coach when it defeated Germany, 2-0, atStockholmin 1995’s rain-drenched final. “Germany has so far been a little bit more impressive than Sweden,” he said Saturday. “Both teams are very strong. Both teams are very experienced. Both teams are very, very confident at the moment. I think it will be a fabulous game. “Sweden’s intensity up front when they attack is very high. The German defense has some weaknesses, so it’s possible it could go [either] way.” The United States beat Sweden, 3-1, in its opening game and lost, 3-0, to Germany in the semifinals. Despite those results, Coach April Heinrichs also believes that either team could become the world champion. “We don’t know who is going to win,” she said. “Both teams have great striking personalities. In fact, the personalities that you gravitate to most are Svensson and Ljungberg and Malin Andersson and Mostroem for Sweden, and Wiegmann and Meinert and Prinz for Germany. These are attacking personalities. “I think that’s the most exciting aspect of this World Cup, that attacking play is prevailing.” Heinrichs has a novel theory on the title match. If the final had been played two or three days after last Sunday’s semifinals, she said, she believes Sweden would have won. But because a week has elapsed, she now believes Germany has the upper hand. The Germans, who attack in numbers out of the back and midfield, expend a lot of energy in doing so and might have suffered with a quick turnaround. “Germany has a commitment to make runs forward,” Heinrichs said. “They play a high-energy game, and I just think that six days’ rest re- energizes Germany, because it’s harder to play their style with just [a few] days’ rest.” If it wins today, Germany would become the first country to win the World Cup (1954, 1974 and 1990) and the Women’s World Cup. Avictory for Sweden, on the other hand, would give it its first world championship and bragging rightsover Scandinavian neighbor and former champion Norway. The incentive is there for both teams. The goals will surely follow. WOMEN’S WORLD CUP FINAL Germany vs. Sweden, Home Depot Center, today at 10 a.m., Channel 7, 46 (KFTR) Attacks Expected to Attract Attention Germany boasts the tournament’s top goal scorer and an energetic style of play. Sweden, with its ‘devil’s triangle’ of forwards, matches up well. The Perennial 10 Although much has been made of what has been called the greatest generation of U.S. players, which probably made its final World Cup appearance in Saturday’s third-place game, there are 10 players from five countries whose international careers have spanned all four Women’s World Cups. A look at their performances on the world stage: CHINA Sun Wen: China’s greatest star did everything in the 1999 World Cup but claim the championship, winning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player and leading all players with 10 goals. But the title has always eluded her; China, as host, was stunned by Sweden, 1-0, in the 1991 quarterfinals, then lost by the same score to Germany in the 1995 semifinals, before falling in penalty kicks to the U.S. in the title game four years ago. Sun got off to a good start this year, scoring against Ghana in a 1-0 victory to pull within one goal of Michelle Akers’ career goal record, but she and her teammates could never get going, scoring only three goals in four games before being eliminated by Canada. GGSMinGoals Sun20201,76211 GERMANY Bettina Wiegmann: A victory in today’s final would be a fitting cap to the career of one of the world’s all-time greats. The midfielder has captained the Germans to four European championships and a second-place finish in the 1995 World Cup. She holds the World Cup record for penalty kicks, with eight of her 11 goals coming from the spot. But her two most memorable goals came in the run of play, an 88th-minute score in the 1995 semifinals to beat China, 1-0, and a drive from the top of the box just before halftime of the 1999 quarterfinal against the U.S. that gave Germany a temporary lead. GGSMinGoals Wiegmann21211,80811 NIGERIA Nkiru Okosieme and Florence Omagbemi: The two midfielders are part of a group of Nigerian players who had such a positive experience in the 1999 World Cup, they stayed in the U.S. Both play in the W-League, Okosieme for Charlotte and Omagbemi for league champion Hampton Roads. Okosieme’s greatest moments for her national team came in the 1999 World Cup, when she scored in three of four games, including a second-minute goal against the U.S. Omagbemi, who was only 16 during her World Cup debut in 1991, is the Nigerian captain. GGSMinGoals Okosieme11109323 Omagbemi13131,1060 NORWAY Bente Nordby and Hege Riise: Two of the stars of the Norwegians’ 1995 championship team, Nordby came out of retirement and Riise came back from injury to raise hopes for this year’s team, before it fell in the quarterfinals. Nordby was the backup to Reidun Seth in 1991 but came into her own four years later, giving up only one goal in six games. Her finest World Cup effort may have been in her last game, when she was selected player of the game in a1-0 loss to the U.S. last week. Riise won the Golden Ball as MVP of the 1995 World Cup, and added a WUSA championship with Carolina to her resume in 2002. But a knee injury limited her to only short minutes in this year’s World Cup. GGSMinGAA Nordby16161,4700.92 GGSMinGoals Riise22181,6439 UNITED STATES Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly: The constant presence in a run of success that includes two World Cup championships, two third-place finishes, Olympic gold and silver and the No. 1 ranking in the world, the veteran U.S. players have led teams that have put up a 20-2-2 record. No other player can match the 24 World Cup games played by Foudy and Lilly, and no one has put in as much time on the field as Fawcett, who played every minute of each of the 23 games she played. Hamm and Foudy join Sun and Wiegmann as the only four players to have scored in each World Cup. GGSMinGoals Fawcett23232,1003 Foudy24211,9914 Hamm23221,9428 Lilly24232,0007 —Van Nightingale From Associated Press Igor Simutenkov scored a controversial goal in overtime to lead the Kansas City Wizards to a 2-1 victory over the Galaxy on Saturday night in front of 9,360 at Kansas City, Mo. Chris Klein took a shot off the left post four minutes into the extra period, recovered the rebound and passed to Simutenkov, who easily shot the ball into the open net. The linesperson’s flag went up to signal that Simutenkov was offside. After a long discussion on the sideline, the referee signaled that the goal counted. The Wizards (10-10-8) have won three consecutive games after being winless in their previous nine games. They also pulled to within two points of Colorado for second place in the Western Division. Kerry Zavagnin gave the Wizards a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute with his first goal this season. Carlos Ruiz tied the score in the 67th minute on apenalty kick. It was his 14th goal this season. Ruiz earned the kick when he drove into the Wizards’ box and was taken down by defender Diego Gutierrez. New England 1, D.C. United 0 — Steve Ralston scored on a penalty kick in the first minute of overtime in front of 12,006 at Foxboro, Mass., helping the Revolution (10-9-9) clinch a playoff berth. Both teams had numerous chances to score during regulation. D.C. United (10-10-8) had 11 corner kicks, six in the first half; New England had eight corner kicks, five in the first half. New England, 4-0-1 in its last five games, had the best scoring chances in regulation time. Ryan Kamler knocked a header off the right goalpost in the 39th minuteand Ralston had point-blank chances in the 48th and 53rd minutes. Dallas 0, New York/New Jersey 0 — The game in front of 13,567 at East Rutherford, N.J., featured aleague-record three missed penalty kicks. The tie enabled the MetroStars (11-8-9) to hold on to second place in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of New England. Dallas (5-18-5) has the worst record in the league. MetroStar defender Eddie Pope leftin the opening minutes of the second half because of a strained rib cage. MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER Galaxy Loses in Overtime From Associated Press Many of Europe’s powerhouses have qualified for next summer’s European Championship, including France, Germany, Italy and England. The 16-team field has 11 participants after qualifiers around the continent on Saturday. In the day’s most anticipated game, England and Turkey played to a 0-0 tie at Istanbul, a result that was good enough to clinch Group 7 for England, despite a missed penalty kick by David Beckham. Turkey finished in second place. The 11 teams in are: host Portugal, France, Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, Greece, England, Bulgaria, Italy and Switzerland. Anon-seeded draw Monday in Frankfurt, Germany, will set two-game playoffs for Nov. 15 and 19 involving the second-place teams. The teams are: Slovenia, Norway, Netherlands, Latvia, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, Croatia, Wales and Russia. In key games Saturday: Greece beat Northern Ireland, 1-0, in Athens on a second-half penalty by Vassilis Tsiartas to win Group 6. Filippo Inzaghi scored two goals as Italy beat Azerbaijan, 4-0, in Reggio Calabria to win Group 9. At Hamburg, Michael Ballack, Freddie Bobic and Kevin Kuranyi scored as Germany beat Iceland, 3-0, to win Group 5, and Scotland finished second after a 1-0 victory over Lithuania at Glasgow. Denmark secured first place in Group 2 with a 1-1 draw at Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Norway finished second after a 1-0 victory over Luxembourg. Switzerland won Group 10 with a 2-0 victory over Ireland at Basel, and Russia finished second with a 3-1 victory over Georgia. Latvia reached the playoffs by beating Group 4 winner Sweden, 1-0, in Stockholm. Croatia took second in Group 8 by beating already-qualified Bulgaria, 1-0, in Zagreb. France finished as the only team with eight victories, beating Israel, 3-0, in Group 1. EURO 2004 QUALIFYING Top Teams Keep Themselves There By Grahame L. Jones Times Staff Writer The exact moment when the Women’s World Cup ended for the United States could be pinpointed Saturday afternoon. It came not when the final whistle sounded on a 3-1 victory over Canada but rather during the U.S. team’s subsequent victory lap, when Julie Foudy took off her cleats and tossed them to some lucky soul in the Home Depot Center crowd of 25,253. Throw away the shoes, but keep the bronze medal. Third place was not where the Americans wanted to finish, but that’s where they ended up, doing so in stylish and convincing fashion behind goals by Kristine Lilly, Shannon Boxx and Tiffeny Milbrett. Why aren’t they playing in today’s championship match? Canada’s Norwegian coach, Even Pellerud, offered one reason. “They are maybe a little bit on the way down,” he said. “They are not as well-organized as they used to be. They are giving more space away to opponents than they used to do. They are not as fit as they used to be. But I still think they will be a contender in the Olympics [in Athens next year].” April Heinrichs, the U.S. coach, offered a different reason. “I’m prepared to admitnow ... that the loss of Brandi Chastain was critical to us,” she said, referring to the broken foot Chastain sustained in the tournament’s opening game. “The casual observer would never know, but Brandi’s No. 1 quality is her ability to possess the ball under pressure, and her composure under pressure is perhaps [among] the greatest of all female athletes. “And so losing Brandi hurt us in terms of our ability to possess the ball, to control the tempo of the game, to stay composed.” Chastain’s absence might have been felt in the 3-0 semifinal loss to Germanybut did not show inthe third-place match. The U.S. played with determination and spirit, and although Canada battled gamely, it was not quite in the same class. Lilly opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, latching onto a loose ball after Canadian defender Charmaine Hooper had dispossessed Abby Wambach and firing a half volley into the net from about 20 yards. It was the U.S. team’s first goal in 178 minutes, two minutes shy of two full matches. Canada fought back. Kara Lang, a 17-year-old high school senior, hit the right post with a shot in the 29th minute on a play that leftgoalkeeper Briana Scurry momentarily shaken. The U.S. defense was notsure of itself, and it was no surprise when the Canadians pulled level in the 38th minute. Christine Latham played a through ball up the middle and Christine Sinclair sprinted between defenders Kate Sobrero and Catherine Reddick and got off a low shot that beat Scurry at the far post. Forward Cindy Parlow had sustained a concussion in an accidental clash withWambach earlier in the half and was replaced by Milbrett in the 43rd minute. The U.S. came out strongin the second half and regained the lead in the 62nd minute when Mia Hamm sent a corner kick from the left onto the head of Boxx, whose powerful close-range header was unstoppable. “She [Hamm] hit a perfect ball and all I had to do was just get up, and that’s what I did,” Boxx said. Milbrett, who had been held scoreless in an off-the-bench role throughout the first five games, scored in the 80th minute. She hit a right-foot shot that was blocked, then struck the rebound with her left foot and saw it fly into the net. “It’s really special to be able to get goals in World Cup games,” Milbrett said, “and I didn’t have one. I didn’t press. I wasn’t stressed about it, but it was definitely something that I wanted.” Canada’s fourth-place finish was its bestin World Cup play. “There’s definitely a little bit of disappointment,” Lang said. “I mean, we came into the game wanting the bronze medal. But in the end, considering the overall tournament, we’re pretty proud of ourselves and our program.” Gina Ferazzi Los Angeles Times GOAL-ORIENTED: Shannon Boxx leaps into the arms of Abby Wambach after scoring on a header. United States 3, Canada 1 Canada..............................................10—1 United States......................................12—3 At Carson, Calif. First half—1, United States, Lilly 2, 22nd minute. 2, Canada, Sinclair 3, 38th. Second half—3, United States, Boxx 2, 51st. 4, United States, Milbrett 1, 80th. Yellow Cards—Kara Lang, Canada, 65th minute; Charmaine Hooper, Canada, 76th minute. Referee—Tammy Ogston, Australia. Linesmen—Airlie Keen, Australia; Jacqueline Leleu, Australia. A—25,253. Lineups: Canada—Taryn Swiatek; Sasha Andrews (Isabelle Morneau,778th), Sharolta Nonen, Charmaine Hooper, Andrea Neil (Carmelina Moscato, 90th); Kristina Kiss, Diana Matheson, Kara Lang (Rhian Wilkinson, 89th), Brittany Timko; Christine Latham, Christine Sinclair. United States—Briana Scurry; Joy Fawcett, Cat Reddick, Kate Sobrero (Shannon MacMillan, 84th), Christie Pearce; Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy (Kylie Bivens, 77th), Shannon Boxx, Mia Hamm; Cindy Parlow (Tiffeny Milbrett, 43rd), Abby Wambach. SUMMARY U.S. Is a Shoe-in for Bronze Lilly, Boxx, Milbrett score to lift the Americans over Canada, 3-1, in World Cup third-place game. THE FINAL GERMANY vs SWEDEN How they got here: Germany defeated Canada, 4-1, Japan, 3-0, and Argentina, 6-1, in the first round, then thrashed Russia, 7-1, in the quarterfinals and shut out the United States, 3-0, in the semifinals. Sweden lost to the U.S., 3-1, then beat North Korea, 1-0, and Nigeria, 3-0, in the first round, after which it edged Brazil, 2-1, in the quarterfinals and came from behind to deny Canada, 2-1, in the semifinals. Players to watch: For Germany, Birgit Prinz is the competition’s leading scorer with seven goals, and playmaker Maren Meinert could become the “golden ball” winner as the tournament’s’ best player. Sweden counts on the electric trio of Victoria Svensson, also an MVP candidate, Hanna Ljungberg and the irrepressible Malin Mostroem. Previous appearances: Germany lost in the final, 2-0 to Norway, in 1995. This is Sweden’s first appearance in a final. Quick look: Germany comes in as the slightest of favorites, if only because of the number of goals it is scoring and that it already has beaten the World Cup’s third- and fourth-place finishers (the U.S. and Canada). Sweden has recorded World Cup victories over Germany to win third place in 1991 and in the first round in 1995, however, and the Swedes took the Germans to overtime in the 2001 European Women’s Championship before falling, 1-0, in Germany. —Grahame L. Jones

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