YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


U.S., Norway Face Off Again at the Pinnacle


SYDNEY, Australia — So, once again it is the United States and Norway.

Once again, the only two countries to have won a women's world championship will meet on the soccer field to determine which will have global supremacy--at least in this place, at this time.

They have played each other 29 times since their first game in 1987, with the Norwegians holding a 14-13-2 advantage. But the big games have, more often than not, gone the Americans' way.

In the last nine months, they have faced each other seven times, with Norway winning three, against three losses and one tie.

As recently as Sept. 14, in the opening game of the Sydney Olympics, the U.S. defeated Norway, 2-0, in Melbourne in a game made memorable by Tiffeny Milbrett scoring one goal and hitting both posts and the crossbar, completing a rare trifecta.

On Thursday, at the Sydney Football Stadium and with a gold medal on the line, Norway has a chance to avenge not only that defeat but a 2-1 loss in the final of the 1991 Women's World Championship in China and a 2-1 loss in the semifinal of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Its only victory over the U.S. in the closing stages of a major event came when it won, 1-0, in the semifinals of the 1995 Women's World Championship in Sweden.

The teams have followed differing paths to the gold-medal match. After losing to the U.S., Norway rebounded by defeating Nigeria, China and Germany.

The U.S., meanwhile, followed its victory over Norway with a tie against China and victories over Nigeria and Brazil.

Brazil and Germany will play for the bronze medal in the match preceding the U.S.-Norway encounter.

The American players, 10 of them gold medalists from '96, remain cautious but confident, reflecting their coach, April Heinrichs.

"Norway is a great team and they have some marvelous personalities on their team, [Dagny] Mellgren, [Marianne] Pettersen," Heinrichs said.

"Hege Riise is a winner. She's the kind of person I'd have on my team any day. She finds ways to win, she's thoughtful, she's crafty. I love the way she plays. She's been the most consistent player for Norway for 10 years.

"They play with a great organized defense, they play very hard and physical at the back, but very organized. Bente Nordby is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

"So their defense is tough to penetrate and it's going to require a great performance on our part."

Women's Soccer Final



Thursday, 2 a.m. PDT

TV: Thursday, 3 p.m. MSNBC

Los Angeles Times Articles