Japan 0, Canada 0 (Japan wins 4-3 in shootout)
WASHINGTON (AP) _ After winning the U.S. Women’s Cup, the United States team didn’t go to the locker room and celebrate.
Instead, with their dreams set on Olympic gold, Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers and their teammates remained on the field and ran wind sprints until they dropped under the baking sunshine at RFK Stadium.
``There’s a lot more that we’re shooting for,″ Hamm said after Saturday’s 1-0 victory over China. ``This is a nice tournament. It’s just a layering process in terms of your confidence.″
That would be confidence toward the top prize in the first-ever Olympic women’s soccer tournament at this year’s Summer Games. And the United States should have plenty of it, having beaten Canada, Japan and China by a combined 11-0 in this week’s four-team tournament.
``We played to win today _ don’t misinterpret that _ but this is not what we want to win. We want to win something bigger August 1,″ said coach Tony DiCicco, referring to the gold medal game at Athens, Ga.
Akers scored the winning goal against the Chinese with a powerful 25-foot drive in the 63rd minute. After weaving around one defender, Akers intimated another into turning away just as she launched a rocket that nestled just inside the left goalpost.
``I was a little out of control,″ said Akers of her 91st goal in international play. ``I was determined that if she didn’t give me the shot, I was going to shoot it through her.″
The Americans dominated the game, played before 6,081 at RFK Stadium. They out-shot the Chinese 11-4, and U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry had to make only one save.
Even so, the American effort wasn’t quite full strength. Keeping in mind that the same two teams will meet at Orange Bowl in the first round of the Olympic tournament, DiCicco didn’t want to play all his cards.
``I specifically did not show them everything that I thought we may do against them on July 25 in Miami,″ DiCicco said. ``They saw a couple of different formations, but a tactic or two that I think would help us we did not use today. And hopefully, if we need it, we can now spring it on them in July.″
The United States have now won 11 straight and will be the co-favorite along with Norway for the Olympic gold medal. China is also expected to be a medal contender.
In Saturday’s third-place game, Japan beat Canada by winning a 4-3 shootout after a scoreless tie.
Both teams went through the entire tournament without scoring a goal, each having been shut out by both the United States and China.
Homare Sawa, Kaoru Kadohara, Rie Yamaki and Yumi Obe scored for Japan in the shootout, which followed 90 minutes of regulation time plus two overtime periods. Janine Wood, Andrea Neil and Isabelle Morneaux netted for Canada.