The Americans dominated play throughout, but Trinidad & Tobago's bunker mentality -- with as many as nine players stretched across the back -- conspired with a lack of sharpness in front of the goal by the United States to keep the margin of victory presentable.
Milbrett, returning to the U.S. squad after three months' absence, found Brandi Chastain with a 54th-minute corner kick and knocked home her own rebound eight minutes later as the Americans improved to 2-0 in the region's qualifying tournament for next year's Women's World Cup in China.
Mexico's 5-1 victory over Panama in the second game of the doubleheader before 4,210 at Titan Stadium prevented the United States from clinching a spot in the Nov. 6 semifinals in Seattle. That will come with an expected victory Saturday in its Group 1 finale against Panama at Safeco Field.
The triumph came with what a price. Mia Hamm suffered a bruised right shin in contact with T&T goalkeeper Lisa Jo Ramkissoon near the end of the first half and was taken to a hospital for X-rays. She was in great pain while trainers attended to her and in the U.S. locker room, and a U.S. Soccer spokesman said she was day-to-day.
The Americans outshot T&T, 30-1 -- the Soca Princesses' only shot was a 40-yard floater goalkeeper Briana Scurry handled without trouble -- and created more than two dozen strong scoring chances. Little came of the opportunities as Hamm, Lilly and Parlow -- key players in Sunday's 3-0 victory over Mexico at the Rose Bowl -- were off their games.
''At times we didn't look sharp,'' acknowledged U.S. coach April Heinrichs. ''At times there was too much adrenaline, too much energy ... and the timing of our runs was thrown off. You could accurately say we could've played a little sharper.''
T&T lined up in a 5-3-1 formation, but for much of the game everybody except forward Ahkeela Mollon was primarily concerned with holding off the U.S. attack. At one point in the first half, nine Soca Princesses were in an area no larger than 15 square yards.
Heinrichs switched from her customary 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3, with Shannon MacMillan lining up with Hamm and Parlow on the front line and playmaker Aly Wagner starting on the bench. Tiffany Roberts, the right-sided midfielder vs. Mexico, moved into the holding midfielder slot with Julie Foudy switching to the right.
Parlow gave the Americans a 19th-minute lead, turning between two defenders and flicking the ball from close range past Ramkissoon after a poor T&T clearance in the box. The Americans had ample opportunity to double, or triple, the advantage, none better than a 35-yard blast by left back Cat Reddick that Ramkissoon parried onto the crossbar.
Chastain's glancing header from Milbrett's corner kick to the near post made it 2-0 nine minutes into the second half, and Milbrett finished a corner kick in the 62nd minute for the third goal. MacMillan sent a low cross that Parlow back-heeled into the goalmouth. Milbrett back-heeled the feed on target, but Ramkissoon blocked it, and Milbrett nudged the loose ball over the goal line.
''A 3-nil defeat to the United States is indeed a victory for us,'' said T&T coach Jamaal Shabazz. ''The last time we played the U.S., we were beaten, 12-0, and the time before that it was 10-0. Since then we've had a lot of funding and effort put into the program, and a lot of cultural changes. We have 23 players on scholarship [with U.S. colleges], and that helps us narrow the gap a bit.''
Two U.S.-based players, defender Dawn Marie Alfred (Appalachian State) and midfielder Rae Ann Elder (Lindsey Wilson), were in the T&T starting XI.
Boston Breakers midfielder Monica Gonzalez, a sweeper for the Mexicans, netted two goals in the Tricolores' triumph over the Panamanians. She converted a fourth-minute penalty kick and tallied off a corner kick in the 22nd minute.
Marlene Sandoval had a happy homecoming, scoring Mexico's third goal. Sandoval grew up about a mile from the Fullerton campus, in Placentia, and plays for Cal State Fullerton's women's team.
Fatima Leyva and W-League MVP Maribel Dominguez also scored for Mexico, which finishes Group 1 play Saturday in Seattle against Trinidad & Tobago.
Group B play, in Victoria, British Columbia, begins Wednesday.
CONCACAF WOMEN'S GOLD CUP
Oct. 29 at Fullerton , Calif.
United States 3 Trinidad & Tobago 0. Goals: Parlow 19, Chastain 54, Milbrett 62.
United States -- Scurry; Sobrero (Wagner, 61), Fawcett, Chastain, Reddick; Roberts (Fair, 78), Foudy, Lilly; Hamm (Milbrett, 46), Parlow, MacMillan.
Trinidad & Tobago -- Ramkissoon; John, Gordon, Browne, Alfred, Elder; N. James (Charles, 64), Nelson, St. Louis, Attin-Johnson (J. James, 49); Mollon.
Yellow card -- USA: Parlow 45; Trinidad & Tobago: Browne 29, St. Louis 80.
Referee -- Dianne Ferreira-James (Guyana). A -- 4.210.
Mexico 5 (Gonzalez pen. 4, 22, Sandoval 37, Leyva 65, Dominguez 78) Panama 1 (Valderrama 26).
United States 2-0-0 6-0 6
Mexico 1-1-0 5-4 3
Panama 1-1-0 5-7 3
Trin. & Tobago 0-2-0 2-7 0
Nov. 2 at Seattle
Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 5 p.m. PST
United States vs. Panama, 7:30 p.m. PST
Oct. 30 at Victoria, British Columbia
Costa Rica vs. Jamaica, 6 p.m. PST
Canada vs. Haiti, 8 p.m. PST
Nov. 1 at Victoria, British Columbia
Haiti vs. Costa Rica, 6 p.m. PST
Canada vs. Jamaica, 8 p.m. PST
Nov. 3 at Victoria, British Columbia
Jamaica vs. Haiti, noon PST
Canada vs. Costa Rica, 2 p.m. PST
6 at Seattle
Semifinals, 7 and 9;30 p.m. PST
(Winners qualify for 2003 Women's World Cup)
Nov. 9 at Pasadena, Calif.
Third-place game, 4:30 p.m. PST
(Winner advances to playoff with Asia No. 3 team for berth in 2003 WWC)
Championship, 7 p.m. PST
1. Amarelis De Mera (Panama) 3
2. Monica Gonzalez (Mexico) 2
Cindy Parlow (USA) 2
4. Maylee Attin-Johnson (T&T) 1
Maritzenia Bedoya (Panama) 1
Brandi Chastain (USA) 1
Maribel Dominguez (Mexico) 1
Fatima Leyva (Mexico) 1
Shannon MacMillan (USA) 1
Tiffeny Milbrett (USA) 1
Marlene Sandoval (Mexico) 1
Tasha St. Louis (T&T) 1
Diana Valderrama (Panama) 1
Aly Wagner (USA) 1