Work in Sports
U.S. wins Cold War
Road to Sydney with 7-1 win against Russia
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A lot of goals were scored, and everybody got to play. There's nothing like a feel-good game to open the final tour before the Olympics.
Tiffeny Milbrett had two goals and an assist, and Cindy Parlow also scored twice as the U.S. women's soccer team beat Russia 7-1 Sunday in the first game of a four-game tour ahead of the Sydney Games.
"It's the perfect tune-up match for an Olympics," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "You don't want to play a China or a Norway this close to the games because it's too physical. You get to work on the attacking side of the game, you get to work on little intricacies of the team, and you get to play everybody."
Everybody means all 18 players chosen to the Olympic team Thursday, including three veterans who have spent most of the year on the sidelines.
Michelle Akers, who had shoulder surgery in April, scored her first goal since July 4, 1999. Captain Carla Overbeck played for the first time since April knee surgery, receiving a standing ovation when she entered the game with 27 minutes to play. Even backup goalkeeper Briana Scurry, relegated to backup because of a shin injury, got to play the final nine minutes.
"It's going to be painful, unfortunately, for the next six months," Overbeck said. "All the time -- walking, running. But once you get out there, you forget about it."
Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm also scored as the U.S. team ended a streak of five consecutive games -- all during a wearying trip to Europe -- in which it had scored only one goal per match.
"We've been a bit frustrated," said Parlow, who leads the Americans with 17 goals this year, "because we haven't been able to score the way we wanted to overseas."
Granted, the competition Sunday wasn't on the level of the European trip, which included games against Olympic medal favorites China and Norway. The Russians didn't qualify for the Olympics, and their tired play was indicative of a team that had arrived after a transatlantic journey only three days earlier.
"The reality of soccer and the reality of the Olympic competition we're going to have is one goal per game is going to be a possibility," Heinrichs said. "We've showed that we can win under that sort of pressure."
The teams will meet again Tuesday at College Park, Md., in a match closed to the public. The "Nike Road to Glory" tour continues with a game against Canada at Kansas City, Mo., next Sunday and ends with a match against Brazil at San Jose, Calif., Sept. 1.
The Americans, 21-4-5 this year, will open Olympic play Sept. 14 against Norway at Melbourne, Australia.
Before 21,278 at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Milbrett gave the Americans the lead in the 11th minute with an 11-yard bouncing header perfectly placed just inside the left post. Shannon MacMillan supplied the cross from the left wing.
Foudy made it 2-0 with her 35th international goal in the 24th minute. After back-to-back corner kicks, Hamm's cross from the left was punched by goalkeeper Tatiana Repeikina and volleyed by Brandi Chastain to Foudy, who was waiting by the left post for the close-range header.
Hamm supplied the assist for Milbrett's 79th international goal in the 50th minute, chipping from the left side of the box to anticipate Milbrett's short run. Repeikina stayed back, leaving Milbrett an easy six-yard shot to make it 3-0.
"Sometimes you come out and you're on fire and you get nothing -- you just get a day's work," Milbrett said. "Today the game was generous with me."
Natalia Barbashina scored Russia's only goal in the 56th minute, but Hamm scored two minutes later after Repeikina mishandled a long left cross from Milbrett. It was Hamm's world record 123rd international goal.
After that, the Americans scored almost at will. Danielle Slaton fed Parlow, who one-touched the ball with her right instep from 5 yards, in the 73rd.
Akers, who entered the game at halftime, made it 6-1 in the 77th, her 105th career goal, and Parlow got her second of the match two minutes later to complete the scoring.
"I was happy about the goal," said Akers, playing her fourth game since returning from injury. "I was happy about being able to go 45 (minutes). No new injuries. The shoulder's good. It's getting broken in for the Olympics."