Work in Sports
Just in time
Hamm's late goal gives U.S. tie against China
GATTINGEN, Germany (AP) -- Mia Hamm stole the ball from the fingertips of goalie Han Wenxia just outside the penalty area and scored with five minutes remaining to give the United States a 1-1 tie with China in the DFB Jubilee Tournament Wednesday.
Hamm, international soccer's all-time leading scorer, chased down a long clearance from her own goalkeeper, Siri Mullinix. Han came out to grab the ball and reached down but hesitated when she realized she was beyond the area.
With the Chinese goalie frozen in indecision, Hamm pounced with a swift, jabbing kick, prying the ball loose and knocking Han to the ground. The ball bounced free behind Han and Hamm pushed it into the open net to tie the score.
The side judge at first refused to signal a goal because of a possible handball violation. But referee Elke Gunthnr ruled that, while Han had handled the ball outside the penalty box, it was to the U.S. advantage to play on and pointed to the center spot, signaling a goal.
It was the second meeting between the U.S. and Chinese teams since the historic 1999 Women's World Cup Final, won by the Americans in a shootout. The first was a 1-0 China win at the Pacific Cup in Australia in June.
The game was rough, with 40 fouls called and few scoring chances, but the United States outshot China 11-2 and managed a point from the draw and a chance at the championship, with its third game Saturday against Germany.
"It was tough out there for everyone," said Hamm. "We struggled with our possession and when that breaks down, you don't get the ball up front and you can't hold the ball in midfield. Our defense continues to play well, but I don't think it was the offensive game that our team is used to."
China took the lead in the 16th minute when Mullinix and defender Kate Sobrero froze on a deep ball, allowing Shui Qingxia to cut between them, touch the ball past Mullinix, and tap it into the open net.
The USA dominated the second half as China was content to sit back and protect its lead, taking just one more shot in the entire match, that on a free-kick that Mullinix easily snagged.
The U.S. team, which didn't take its first shot until the 21st minute, only took three shots in the first half and didn't get a real chance until the 77th minute. Julie Foudy played Kristine Lilly a weak-side pass from right to left and she brought the ball down with one touch, then drove it at the near post, forcing Han to bat the ball outside the post for a corner kick.
The Americans' best chance came in the 79th minute, when Lilly put Tiffeny Milbrett one-on-one with Han with a clever pass inside the box. Han quickly cut down the angle on Milbrett and got an arm on the shot to deflect the ball out of bounds.
The United States had a chance to win in the waning seconds on an indirect kick at the top of the penalty box, but Shannon MacMillan's shot hit the Chinese wall and bounded away.
"I think what you saw was the American will and spirit coming into play in the last 20 or 30 minutes," said U.S. coach April Heinrichs. "We absolutely hate to lose and were facing that very picture, so you saw us find energy, enthusiasm and legs that we didn't have in the first part of the second half."