On a new U.S. national women's soccer team, it turned out to be an old-timer who made the biggest difference.
Danielle Fotopoulos, a 5-foot-11 forward and 29-year-old mother of two playing in only her third match since 2002, scored twice in two minutes midway through the second half to send the U.S. on its way to a 3-0 victory over Iceland in an international friendly Sunday afternoon at the Home Depot Center.
Fotopoulos' two-goal game was her second in a row; she also scored twice in a 7-0 victory over Ukraine on July 10. That was her first multi-goal game since she scored twice against South Korea on Oct. 3, 1999.
Her latest efforts occurred in quick succession, not long after she entered the game as a substitute for Tiffeny Milbrett at the start of the second half.
The U.S. had outshot Iceland, 14-0, but failed to score in the first half, and had a 27-0 advantage in shots for the game, including seven shots on goal.
"You just keep going at it," Fotopoulos said. "It might be a little frustrating at times, when you're not putting it anywhere you want, but that's why you have your teammates."
Fotopoulos has been sidelined by an injured left knee in 1997, an injured right knee in 2003 and the births of daughter Alexia in 2000 and son Vasilos in 2004. She also spent a season as co-coach of the Louisiana State women's team with husband George Fotopoulos in 2004.
The time away hardly showed.
Fotopoulos broke a scoreless tie with her first goal, a follow-up shot that she kicked in from the top of the goal box in the 64th minute after Iceland goalkeeper Maria Agustsdottir (four saves) stopped a 30-yard blast from the right side by Shannon Boxx. Forward Abby Wambach assisted on Fotopoulos' second goal, a header that she flicked in from just off the goal line in the 65th minute.
Boxx, a native of Redondo Beach now living in Mission Viejo, scored her first goal of 2005 on a 10-yard shot from the right side in the 69th minute after another assist by Wambach.
Fotopoulos scored her 15th and 16th goals for the national team, with which she made her debut in January 1996. She was a member of the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup team but has played only seven games since. After the latest, the U.S. (7-0-0) has outscored its opponents, 21-0, in 2005.
"It's been fun. You're trying to come in and you don't know what to expect because you've been out for so long, but the team has been great," Fotopoulos said. "I think everybody coming together and playing, having all new players in, it's a new feeling.... As a team, it's new and exciting."