PHILADELPHIA - Mia Hamm never would say it, so it was left
to her coach and teammates to step in.
Soccer's career scoring leader was unstoppable for the second
straight World Cup game, scoring two early goals, then setting up
one in the second half as the United States routed Nigeria 5-0
It was vintage Hamm before 31,553 fans who saw her increase her
international goals total to 144 and her World Cup count to eight.
With 12 assists, she has more points than any other player in the
``That was Mia at her best,'' coach April Heinrichs said as the
Americans moved to the top of Group A with six points. They need
only a tie Sunday with North Korea to win the group and advance to
the quarterfinals. Sweden beat North Korea 1-0 Thursday.
``As a playmaker, a goal scorer, a leader, she understands the
importance of trying to take the wind out of their sails.''
Hamm was the hurricane in that regard. She converted a penalty
kick in the sixth minute with a shot low to the right corner after
Cindy Parlow was knocked down in the area by Nigerian captain
In the 12th, she sent a 35-yard free kick on a majestic arc and
goalkeeper Precious Dede could only get her fingertips on it as the
ball settled into the net.
``Honestly, I was trying to serve the box,'' Hamm said.
Two minutes later, Hamm nearly had a hat trick - her twisting
shot from the left wing barely missed. She also hit the goal post
in the second half.
``I think Mia's at the top of her game, for sure right now,''
Parlow said. ``She's played great. She's given this team so much.''
She gave it even more two minutes into the second half as Parlow
got her second goal of the tournament. It was an almost exact
duplicate of her goal against Sweden as she headed home Hamm's
precise corner kick.
``It was important for our team and our goal, which was to get
three points and be a team that plays hard for 90 minutes,'' said
Hamm, who has played in all four Women's World Cups.
Abby Wambach, Hamm's teammate with the WUSA champion Washington
Freedom, scored her first World Cup goal in the 65th minute on a
perfect cross from Kristine Lilly. Julie Foudy connected on a
penalty kick in the 89th.
Nigeria coach Sam Okpodu didn't think it was a fair battle. He
complained loudly about the officiating after his team was
``Horrible. Horrible,'' he said. ``They wanted to take the game
away from us, the refs did. It's a shame there was a third party
who took the game away from us.''
Nigeria, which lost to North Korea in its opener, saw defender
Bunmi Kayode taken off on a stretcher in the final moments, her
head immobilized, after she collided with Wambach. Okpodu said she
had a cut eye, but could not elaborate on any other injuries.
Nigeria plays Sweden in the other part of Sunday's doubleheader
at Columbus, Ohio.
In their previous two meetings, the United States won 7-1 in the
1999 World Cup and 3-1 in the 2000 Olympics. This one never was in
``This was a great win,'' said Foudy, who like Hamm has scored
in each World Cup. ``But I know there is another level we can get