One player whose contribution to the U.S. victory over Germany might have been overlooked was Michelle Akers, who was a force on offense and defense from her central midfield position.

Tony DiCicco, the U.S. coach, did not let her performance go without comment.

“If you want to see guts personified, that’s Michelle Akers,” he said of the player who has battled chronic fatigue syndrome for six years. “She looked as if she was going to have to come out in the first half, [but] she wanted to stay in.

“We expected to have to sub her in the second half, but she got stronger as the game went on. There’s one word that comes to mind every time I think of Michelle Akers and it’s ‘champion.’ ”



Shannon MacMillan had to wait more than an hour to get into a game many believed she might have started based on her one goal, two-assist performance in the U.S. victory over North Korea.

But it took her only seconds to have an impact.

Afterward, DiCicco again was asked about her role.

“Shannon was our leading scorer in the [1996] Olympics,” he said. “She’s on the bench. She plays with such pride. Today in our meeting she said, ‘Listen, I know the media has been asking you if I’m starting; they’ve been asking me. I’m just ready when you put me in the game.’

“She’s made me look good a few times and today she got it done for us on her first touch and I’m real proud of Shannon and what she gives this team.”