The United States women's soccer team has defeated Norway, to reach the semifinal round of the Women's World Cup tournament. The U.S. women beat world number-two Norway at their own game - playing a fast-paced offense, with tall players and long kicks down field. Abby Wambach headed in a free kick from Cat Reddick, in the 24th minute. Norway was kept on its side of the field for much of the game.
Mia Hamm says the whole U.S. team changed its pace dramatically, from the end of the first round. "Every team is difficult. That is the wonderful thing about the World Cup. Every single team poses different challenges for you. And, you have to solve them, and solve them within two days," she says. "We went from playing an Asian team in North Korea to now a completely different team in Norway. And, within two days our coaching staff, looks at that. And as players we have to look at that."
The United States created numerous opportunities for corner kicks and other set plays that often result in goals. But stopping those plays, with great saves by goalkeeper Bente Nordby, was the one bright spot in an otherwise frustrating game for Norway.
Earlier, Sweden reached the semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Brazil, in the first game of the doubleheader. Victoria Svensson headed her third goal of the tournament in the 23rd minute. Teammate Malin Andersson put a free kick into the net in the 53rd minute. Marta scored the lone goal for Brazil ,in the 44th minute, on a penalty kick.
Swedish coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors says she was confident her team would prevail. "It was hard to get one run before the break [half-time]. But, I think the players are mentally strong and we knew we could take them in the second half."
The other quarterfinals are in Portland, Oregon, later Thursday. Germany plays Russia and China faces Canada.