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U.S. Women Top Germany


This one came from the heart.

Trailing at halftime, the United States responded with two goals off corner kicks by defenders Brandi Chastain and Joy Fawcett, no less to beat Germany 3-2 in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals.

The Americans advanced to a Fourth of July semifinal at Stanford, Calif., against the winner of Thursday's late game between Brazil and Nigeria. They also qualified for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, as did the Germans.

After giving up a late goal in the opening half, the Americans responded with a sensational second period in their toughest test by far.

Â"I'm very proud of how we played for each other and dug deep and reached into our heart,Â" Fawcett said. Â"It's good to know we have it in ourselves, and I think we know it. But as long as we give it everything on the field, and do it for each other, we're fine.Â"

Before a festive crowd of 54,642 that included late-arriving President Clinton and family, the Americans stormed back and wore down the Germans. The United States misfired often, but once again its precision on corner kicks paid off as the Americans loaded the penalty area and converted twice.

Â"We've been pretty good on set plays,Â" Fawcett said. Â"It comes from knowing each other so well.Â"

Chastain made up for an egregious error in the opening minutes by volleying in a corner kick to tie it in the 49th minute. Mia Hamm, who took a physical beating throughout the game, took the corner.

Â"I have seen very big-time performers make mistakes like that and that takes them out of the game,Â" coach Tony DiCicco said. Â"Brandi not only played, she got the tying goal.Â"

Fawcett, who almost never joins the attack she had 18 goals in 140 internationals heading into the World Cup was positioned perfectly for a side header past the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg. Shannon MacMillan, who entered the game seconds earlier, sent the corner kick Â"just where I wanted it.Â"

Â"I know Shannon likes to go near post if there is no one in front of me,Â" Fawcett said. And when the ball glanced off her head, Fawcett Â"knew it was in. I was in shock.Â"

From there, it was a matter of holding off the dauntless Germans, who also lacked accuracy with their shots.

Â"We took too many shots at the keeper rather than playing the ball back to let the trailing player shoot,Â" coach Tina Theune-Meyer said.

Theune-Meyer felt the difference came on the set pieces.

Â"They have great timing and position,Â" she said of the Americans. Â"We just needed to wake up.Â"

As has been their habit following all four victories thus far, the Americans took a victory lap around Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. They looked very relieved as they waved to the fans and clapped their hands.

Then they met Clinton in their locker room and invited him to the final on July 10 at the Rose Bol. Of course, they have to get there first.

Germany, runnerup to Norway in the 1995 tournament, also jogged around the field at the conclusion and received warm applause for its game effort.

The Americans' penchant for sloppiness early in games became downright embarrassing in the fifth minute. Chastain played a loose ball in the penalty area back to goalkeeper Briana Scurry. But Scurry wasn't there and the ball skittered into the net before she could grasp it.

Â"Brandi and Bri have been together a number of years,Â" DiCicco said. Â"It was just the tension of the game.Â"

That goal seemed to spark the United States, which had several good chances on the flanks. But the American goal came down the middle after Michelle Akers' pass went off defender Steffi Jones who has an American father but was born in Frankfurt and into space. That space quickly was filled by Tiffeny Milbrett, who fired a low right-footed shot into the net.

From that goal in the 16th minute, the hosts controlled play for about 20 minutes. But the Germans regained their composure and struck suddenly for the lead.

In injury time, Bettina Wiegmann, the best player on the field in the opening half, made a neat move around Cindy Parlow and sent a 22-yard rocket into the top left corner of the net. That stunned the lively crowd, which grew silent except for a German band that celebrated the score.

The band didn't play in the second half, when the United States came alive.

Â"Carla (Overbeck, the U.S. captain) said that everything we done in this lifetime comes down to these 45 minutes,Â" co-captain Julie Foudy said. Â"We had 45 minutes to make a difference. That's it and we had to leave everything on the field.Â"

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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