ShareThis Page

Rough victory over Brazil assures U.S. women of medal round

| Sunday, Aug. 15, 2004

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- When she picked up her second yellow card in as many games 48 minutes into a foul-marred match with Brazil on Saturday, Abby Wambach had two choices.

Get angry.

Or get even.

She chose the latter, igniting the United States to a 2-0 victory in a first-round Olympic soccer game. Afterward, Brazil coach Rene Simoes accused the Americans of dirty play.

Wambach, a 5-foot-11 forward known for her physical, fearless play, drew a foul in the box against Monica (Brazilian players are known by only one name), resulting in a penalty kick goal by Mia Hamm at the 56-minute mark. Twenty-one minutes later, Wambach took a heading pass from Lindsay Tarpley, dribbled past defenders Juliana and Monica and beat goalkeeper Andreia with a left-footed shot just inside the right post.

The victory, the Americans' second of Olympics, guarantees they will advance to the medal round, which begins with a quarterfinal game on Friday. Tuesday's game against Australia will help determine seeding.

"The yellow card was a little heart-breaking because it meant that this was going to be the last time I could play in the first round," said Wambach, who in accordance with soccer rules will have to sit out Tuesday's game.

"I tried to play my heart out and help the team as much as I could without getting a red card, which would have forced us to play the rest of the game a man down. I figured there was nothing to lose."

Although Wambach entered the game realizing another yellow card would knock her out of her next match, she did not hold back. That was fine with her coach, April Heinrichs.

But in Simoes' eyes, Wambach and her teammates played American football rather than futbol. He said their overly aggressive tactics resulted in two players -- Marta and Kelly -- being taken to the hospital.

"At halftime in the changing room, my doctor did more work than me," Simoes said. "I think it was a dirty game."

The U.S. was whistled for 11 fouls and three yellow cards, to Brazil's 17 penalties and one yellow card.

But Heinrichs took exception to Simoes' claim that she instructed her players to try to hurt the Brazilians after her team was totally outplayed in the first half.

"That is not the case, and it's never been the case," she said. "I think we are one of the cleanest teams in the world, and numbers on fouls bear that out."

Heinrichs added that "for all the great play out there today on both sides, we are spending an awful lot of time on something that just didn't happen."

Each team had seven shots on goal. U.S. keeper Briana Scurry made two diving stops in the first half and also benefited from a shot ricocheting off the crossbar .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me