World All-Stars Overcome U.S. Home-Turf Advantage
It won’t be that easy, after all.
The U.S. women’s national soccer team, widely expected to reclaim its world championship this summer in the third FIFA Women’s World Cup, was given a wake-up call Sunday night at Spartan Stadium.
Two goals by Canada’s Charmaine Hooper gave the FIFA World All-Stars a 2-1 victory over the Americans in front of a chilled but boisterous crowd of 15,367.
The loss was the defending Olympic champions’ first at home in more than 40 games. Worse yet, midfielder Michelle Akers suffered a head injury in a collision with Norway’s Linda Medalen and North Korea’s Kim Sun Hui and had to leave the game in the 17th minute.
“We saw her at halftime and she doesn’t look good,” said forward Mia Hamm. “I just hope and pray that she’s OK.”
Akers, 33, has been weakened by chronic fatigue syndrome and a dozen knee operations in a 14-year career. She had a cut over her eye and was being evaluated for a possible concussion.
But it was not only Akers’ absence that caused the U.S. loss.
Hamm said the surprising thing about the defeat was the performance of the World All-Star team, which had been together for only a couple of days and had trained together only once.
“There were a lot of class players out there,” she said. “We made a couple of mistakes, didn’t finish our chances, and when you play at this level against competitors like this, that’s the margin of victory, and we understand that.”
A goal by Julie Foudy on a pass from Hamm gave the United States the lead in the 24th minute. Hooper tied it on a free kick in the 55th minute that Foudy attempted to block but instead sent looping over backup goalkeeper Tracy Ducar and just under the crossbar.
Hooper’s winning goal came six minutes later and the World All-Stars hung on despite a furious series of U.S. attacks.