Maryland Hosts U.S. Women's Olympic Soccer Team
Aug. 16, 2000
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Two days after blowing out Russia before an electric crowd a few miles away, the U.S. women's Olympic soccer team settled for a 1-1 tie with the Russians in a subdued, closed-door match Tuesday night.
Natalia Barbashina and Joy Fawcett scored the goals, but they were overshadowed by a scary moment early when Michelle Akers, who doggedly worked through months of painful rehabilitation to make the Olympic roster, reinjured her shoulder.
Akers landed on the shoulder when she was taken down on a foul tackle from behind near midfield. She stayed in the game, but was barely able to lift her right arm and was taken out in the 28th minute.
"I took a fall, and when I braced myself to land, I jammed up my shoulder on one of the spots that's still tender," Akers said. "It hurts, but it'll be fine."
Akers said she will be able to play Sunday when the pre-Olympic tour continues with a game against Canada at Kansas City, Mo.
Any kind of injury was the No. 1 concern of coach April Heinrichs going into the low-key match, which followed a rousing 7-1 victory over the same team at Annapolis on Sunday. The Americans would have preferred some rest during their buildup to the Olympics, but they were obligated to give two games to a Russian team that had made such a long trip.
"We're a little tired, and it is tough to get up," Heinrichs said. "But they're professionals. I think we can do a better job of that when we have such beautiful surroundings to play in."
About 350 people, mostly from the University of Maryland, were in the stands, and the event and the quality of play lacked the usual energy of a full international match.
Heinrichs experimented with her lineup, starting Sara Whalen and Cindy Parlow at forward, backup Briana Scurry in goal, and resting Mia Hamm, Tiffeny Milbrett and Kristine Lilly until the start of the second half.
Whalen had three successive shots stopped by a defender in the early minutes before Barbashina, one of the few experienced Russians who made the trip, scored from 12 yards on an assist from Olga Letushova in the 28th minute.
The United States attack was more spirited in the second half as the Russians packed their end of the field and played defensively. The reward came when a hand ball was called in the penalty box after a corner kick, and Fawcett left-footed the penalty kick to tie the score in the 72nd minute.
Milbrett appeared to have the winning goal on her foot when she charged into the box to chase a cross in the 85th minute, but she volleyed the ball over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat. Parlow had a similar, though more hurried, chance in the 88th minute.
For Heinrichs, the solid finish somewhat mitigated her concern after a lifeless first half.
"For us, it's a reminder that we have to play first with our heart," Heinrichs said. "It's a reminder that there needs to be an urgency, and it's a reminder that possession's a really nice thing, but you don't score based on how many passes you get. We've got to have urgency to get shots."