- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2003

When the U.S. women's national team takes on Canada today at RFK Stadium, Tiffeny Milbrett will seek to solve an unusual problem for the talented striker a goal drought.
Milbrett has not scored for the New York Power in four games going back to last season. For a player of her caliber, that's almost an eternity. A goal today would work wonders for the speedy forward's confidence.
"I try not to get frustrated," Milbrett said. "It's hard as a forward when you're not able to put the ball in the back of the net. Your confidence does dip down, but I have to stay on a even keel."
A native of Portland, Ore., Milbrett is one of the world's greatest goal scorers, with blistering speed and delicate finishing skills. In 187 games for the U.S. team, she has scored an impressive 96 goals. Only Mia Hamm (138) and retired Michelle Akers (105), have more. Milbrett last scored for the Americans (5-3-1) in a 3-1 win over Norway in Yiwa, China, in January.
Although she has struggled at the club level this year, Milbrett remains the Women's United Soccer Association's all-time leading goal scorer. In 2001, she led the league with 16 goals in 20 games to help the Power make the playoffs. Last season, as New York slumped to the bottom of the standings, Milbrett had 10 goals in 19 matches. And three games into this season, Milbrett has managed just three shots on goal.
There are multiple pressures for Milbrett. She is the Power's established veteran who is called upon to be the leader, the captain, and the motivator. On the national team, by contrast, she is a giant among equals with a support system of experienced teammates playing at the top of their game.
"With the national team I don't feel I have to be the leader all the time," said Milbrett, who at 5-foot-2 is the smallest player on the U.S. roster.
While Hamm is the dead-ball specialist and Julie Foudy provides the engine in the midfield, Milbrett is the effervescent burst of energy at the forefront of the American forward line, ready to pounce on a loose ball like a viper. She looks forward to facing Canada a late replacement for Nigeria because the northern neighbors have improved remarkably in recent years.
"Every time we play them, they are in a different class," Milbrett said. "They are great rivals and bring out the best in us."
Today's game is the last chance for fans to see the U.S. team in the area before the World Cup in China in September. A crowd of more than 12,000 is expected for the game, which will be followed by the Washington Freedom-Atlanta Beat WUSA match. Next up for the Americans is England in Birmingham, Ala., on May17.

The French problem The situation of French star Gilles Grimandi grows more curious by the day. The former $3.9million Arsenal star signed with the MLS this year to play for the Colorado Rapids, but at the beginning of this month Grimandi, 32, told Rapids coach Tom Hankinson that he did not want to play for the team. He did not dress for the Rapids' opening game and was expected to fly back to France.
But there he was this week, still training with the club. Grimandi, the first Frenchman to sign with MLS, is now in a nasty legal wrangle as he tries to get out of his contract.
According to Rapids general manager Dan Counce, MLS has spent more than $100,000, including travel expenses and salary, on Grimandi.
The reasons why Grimandi refuses to play are varied. He cited family problems, but it appears that France's antiwar stance was not making life easy for him in the United States.
Unless the Frenchman has a dramatic change of heart, he is unlikely to play against D.C. United tonight at Invesco Field.
There are reports that a potential replacement for Grimandi could be midfielder John Collins, 35, whose contract runs out with Fulham in the Premier League next month. Collins played on the Scottish national team with Rapids striker John Spencer.

Corner kicks Soccer's governing body will consider a proposal to add four teams to the World Cup, which would increase the field to 36. FIFA's executive committee will meet next Saturday. …
Congratulations to the Baltimore Blast for winning the Major Indoor Soccer League championship in Milwaukee, the club's first title since 1984. … Farewell to Noberto Longo, the Telemundo Network sports personality and Andres Cantor sidekick, who died of a heart attack last Saturday at 62. …
Bobby Goldwater, president of the District's Sports and Entertainment Commission and the man who keeps RFK Stadium looking spiffy for soccer, pulls in a cool $275,000 a year. He's the city's highest-paid employee.

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