Work in Sports
Heinrichs starts 0-2
Norway tops U.S. World Cup women again
Posted: Thursday February 10, 2000 02:23 PM
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- It wasn't as auspicious a start as April Heinrichs would have liked.
But after two defeats to longtime nemesis Norway this week, the new U.S. women's soccer coach can now get on with the business of narrowing her pool of players leading up to this summer's Olympic Games in Australia.
Heinrichs fell to 0-2 as coach of the defending World Cup champs with a 2-1 loss to Norway on Wednesday in a closed-door match at Florida Atlantic University.
The loss came just three days after the U.S. fell 3-2 to the Norwegians in Fort Lauderdale.
As disappointing as the losses were, they'll go a long way in helping Heinrichs winnow down a roster of 35 players that gathered in South Florida for a 10-day training camp.
About half of those players are 21 and younger. Some, like defender Nandi Pryce and forward Alyssa Ramsey, are just 17.
"We've got to get to 25 players for the next competition in Portugal," Heinrichs said. "I want to be vigilant about not making a decision on making permanent cuts until after that set of games."
Heinrichs used 25 players for the two games against Norway, liberally mixing the newcomers in with the veterans. The inexperience of the young players showed in both losses, especially on Wednesday.
Both Norway goals -- a 16th-minute tally by Marianne Pettersen and a 51st-minute game-winner by Hege Riise -- came at the expense of American inexperience in defense.
Pettersen scored after dispossessing defender Michelle French in the U.S. half and beating goalkeeper Briana Scurry on a breakaway. Riise expertly volleyed a long pass from defender Bente Kvitland from close range, catching the American central defense flatfooted.
"I think they're all vulnerable to momentary lapses in concentration," Heinrichs said of her youth corps.
The bright spot came in the 13th minute when Jena Kluegal and Christie Welsh combined for the only U.S. goal. Kluegel, playing her first international match, took a cross from Shannon MacMillan and played a delicate chip to Welsh, who finished at the far post.
The U.S. team couldn't muster much of a response to Riise's second-half goal, creating just one scoring chance -- Lori Fair's header at the edge of the 6-yar box with seven minutes to play.
The loss dropped the U.S. team to 10-13-1 against Norway, the only team to own a winning record against the Americans.
Still, Heinrichs was more concerned with finding out who among her young players is ready for the next test, the Algarve Cup in Portugal on March 8-19.
"Some of them are really worth giving more playing time and experience," Heinrichs said. "There's one or two where this might not be their year. But we're not through with the evaluation process."