American Soccer G-O-O-L-D ... Is Not to Be

By Douglas S. Looney writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 29, 2000 | Go to article overview

American Soccer G-O-O-L-D ... Is Not to Be


Douglas S. Looney writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


The stunning loss by the United States women's soccer team here last night to Norway, 3-2, in the Olympic gold-medal game, happened with the speed of a pickpocket.

It was done so quickly, and seemed so improbable.

Indeed, 12 minutes into sudden-death overtime, the ball bounced off American Joy Fawcett's head and fell at the feet of Norway substitute Dagny Mellgren. From some eight yards out, Mellgren kicked the ball just to the left and past the diving US goalkeeper, Siri Mullinix.

In truth, Mullinix has made many far more difficult saves and this one definitely was savable.

But this game may have not been meant to be for the Americans - the defending Olympic champs - to win. Although they got off to an early 1-0 lead on a score by Tiffeny Milbrett, and were playing well, they were unable to seize control despite Norway's struggles. Just before the half, Norway scored its first goal - deflating because it came just as the US was thinking it would go in at the break leading by one even though it should be up by more.

Suddenly, the landscape had changed.

Midway in the second period, Norway scored to go up 2-1 and it seemed, as time ticked by, that they would win as the US failed to convert numerous scoring chances. Norway players looked increasingly happy and relaxed; American players looked increasingly gloomy and tight.

And then, out of nowhere - like a pickpocket - Milbrett was back at it again, driving home a goal with literally seconds left in the game.

This kind of thing sometimes signals to a team that even though it's having a tough time, it still has a serious chance.

That may have been the signal but it was not the reality.

Along came Mellgren's winning goal. But US coach April Heinrichs was unbowed: "Our game today was golden." Said Brandi Chastain, "I think the expectation everyone puts on us can't possibly be as high as those we put on ourselves."

Maybe, just maybe, the US was living on borrowed time, anyway, going back to its semifinal 1-0 victory over Brazil in Canberra on Sunday. …

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