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Hamm, Wagner guide U.S. women past Russia in U.S. Cup opener
September 29th, 2002 9:10PM

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Mia Hamm scored two second-half goals and Aly Wagner played a role in three scores after coming on at halftime as the U.S. women's national team buried Russia, 5-1, Sunday in the U.S. Women's Cup opener in Uniondale, N.Y.

Hamm, enjoying a renaissance that began during the WUSA season, also created two first-half goals as the Americans dominated play, rolling up a 22-4 advantage in shots and coming close to scoring several more goals, before 4,322 at Mitchel Athletic Complex.

Briana Scurry got her first start in the U.S. nets since Aug. 15, 2000, a 1-1 tie with Russia in a closed-door match at College Park, Md., during American preparations for the Sydney Olympics.

The U.S. squad -- which also faces Australia (Oct. 2) and Italy (Oct. 6) in Cary, N.C., in the four-nation exhibition tournament -- was sluggish in the first half but took charge after Wagner, a senior at Santa Clara University, entered for Parlow. The playmaking midfielder's deft midfield touches and superb final passes destroyed a Russian team that had enjoyed good possession for the first 45 minutes.

''The good thing about a good team is that you can get better during the game,'' U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. ''That's a good sign of our team and some of our individual players. If you step out on the field and things aren't going well, your No. 1 job is to find ways to make it better, and I thought we did that in the second half.''

Heinrichs expressed dismay over her squad's preparations leading to the opener.

''I was concerned with our mental preparation with this game,'' she said. ''It didn't seem like we were totally prepared to step on the field against a team in the World Cup. Quite a few of our players didn't prepare properly for this game, and what you saw was a lot of carelessness out there.''

Cindy Parlow scored her 50th international goal, and Brandi Chastain converted a penalty kick to push the United States to a 2-0 lead in the first half. Chastain's kick, after Hamm was taken down by Vera Stroukova, provided a 25th-minute advantage, and Parlow added a close-range header in the 31st minute after Hamm headed a Kristine Lilly cross into the goalmouth.

The Americans scored three goals in a five-minute span of the second half to pull away. Wagner set up Hamm in the 59th and 62nd minutes, slipping balls behind the Russian defense, then scored one of her own in the 84th, heading home a Kate Sobrero cross.

''We're seeing some qualities in Aly that make her a world class player,'' Heinrichs said. ''She has the ability to change the point of attack and has great composure in her possession and her decision making with the ball. She also has the ability to find her teammates and put the ball on their feet. She makes it look so easy, and what she is doing is one of the most difficult aspects of soccer.''

Hamm's goals were the 134th and 135th of her international career.

Natalia Barbachina converted an 84th-minute penalty kick for Russia after she was fouled by Joy Fawcett.

Danielle Slaton, who missed the 8-2 victory over Scotland on Sept. 8 while resting an ailing knee, returned to the U.S. lineup at left back. Fawcett teamed with Chastain in the middle in what has become Heinrichs' favored central defensive combo.

New Jersey high-schooler Heather O'Reilly, one of the stars of the U.S. team that won the FIFA U-19 World Championship earlier this month, won her fifth cap, coming on for Abby Wambach in the 39th minute.

U.S. WOMEN'S CUP
1. United States 1-0-0 5-1 3
2. Australia 0-0-0 0-0 0
2. Italy 0-0-0 0-0 0
4. Russia 0-1-0 1-5 0

Sunday, Sept. 29 at Uniondale, N.Y.

United States 5 Russia 1. Goals: Chastain pen. 25, Parlow 31, Hamm 59, 62, Wagner 64; Barbachina pen. 84.

United States -- Scurry; Sobrero, Chastain, Fawcett, Slaton; Roberts (Hucles, 46), Lilly (Fair, 46), Foudy, Hamm (MacMillan, 64); Parlow (Wagner, 46), Wambach (O'Reilly, 39).

Russia -- Pitchougova; Kolomiets, Karaseva (Poustovoitova, 46), Stroukova, Sedakova (Mironova, 69); Skotnikova, Svetlitskaya (Schmachkova, 46), Jikhareva, Fomina; Barbachina, Letyushova.

Yellow cards -- Russia: Jikhareva 40.

Referee -- Rachel Woo (U.S.). A -- 4,322.

Remaining schedule
Oct. 2 at Cary, N.C.

Italy vs. Russia
United States vs. Australia

Oct. 6 at Cary, N.C.
Australia vs. Russia
United States vs. Italy

Oct. 9 at Cary, N.C.
Australia vs. Italy



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