United States 4, Canada 1
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Shannon MacMillan’s powerful right foot left no doubt that the United States would beat Canada for the 21st consecutive time.
MacMillan scored from 16 and 25 yards out, shots so powerful the goalkeeper just stood and watched them fly past, as the U.S. team won 4-1 Saturday night to advance to the final of the inaugural women’s soccer Gold Cup.
The Americans will play Brazil in Monday’s title game in Foxboro, Mass., a rematch of the teams that played to a 0-0 tie in group play Wednesday. Brazil beat China 3-2 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
MacMillan, getting a rare start at forward, scored in the 12th and 38th minutes. Tiffany Milbrett scored in first-half injury time, and Mia Hamm added her 121st international goal in the 65th minute for the Americans, who have won 22 of 23 games against their North American neighbors.
Charmaine Hopper scored a penalty kick in the 58th minute for the Canadians, whose only victory in the series came in 1986.
Despite that record _ and despite 4-0 and 9-1 losses to the United States this year _ Canada’s players had thought themselves ready to challenge the World Cup champions this time. The Canadians split two games with China this year under new coach Even Pellerud’s rebuilding program.
But, once again, Canada’s defense couldn’t stop the Americans’ powerful array of talent. The United States had three corner kicks in the first three minutes, and Milbrett was given plenty of space down the middle of the field for her goal, a 10-yard score on a feed from Julie Foudy.
MacMillan’s first goal, a rocket into the corner of the net, came after a cross-field pass from Nikki Serlenga on a counterattack. MacMillan’s second found the left side, a solid blast from directly in front of the net with three players around her. Although both shots were long ones, goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc was left flat-footed with no time to react.
Canada avoided the shutout when Kate Sobrero elbowed Hooper to the left of the goal in the second half. Hooper’s successful penalty kick broke a 486-minute shutout streak for the United States and ended goalkeeper Siri Mullinix’s personal streak at 512 minutes.
Hamm made it 4-1 with an 18-yard shot off LeBlanc’s outstretched hands. In an unusual scene, Hamm ran immediately to the U.S. team bench and hugged coach April Heinrichs rather than celebrate on the field with her teammates.
The game drew 11,140 fans to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.