- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

Shannon MacMillan is certainly ready for the Women's World Cup, wherever it may be played.
Yesterday, MacMillan dominated a helpless team of Canadians, scoring four goals to lead the United States to a 6-1 rout over Canada in an exhibition. It was the first game of a women's soccer doubleheader yesterday before 5,693 at RFK Stadium. The second game was a Women's United Soccer Association match between the Washington Freedom and Atlanta Beat.
For the women's national team, the friendly against Canada was the first of six tuneups before the Women's World Cup, which begins Sept.23 in China. But China might not be able to hold the competition because of the ongoing SARS scare.
MacMillan, 28, became the fifth player in U.S. women's soccer history to score four or more goals in a game and the first since Tiffeny Milbrett scored five goals against Panama last Nov.2.
"I've never done that before, but when you are getting passes like the balls I got, if I don't finish those, then I don't belong here," MacMillan said.
MacMillan, who plays for the San Diego Spirit in the WUSA, scored goals in the 16th, 55th, 78th and 79th minutes. Every time MacMillan, who scored 17 goals last year for the U.S. women, touched the ball in scoring position, she found the back of the net.
"Quality finishing, that's all you need to say," said U.S. central playmaker Aly Wagner, who is MacMillan's teammate on the Spirit.
Midfielder Kristine Lilly earned her 250th cap yesterday, making her the most capped player man or woman in international history, and scored a goal in the 33rd minute. Julie Foudy, the U.S. captain, added a goal in the 41st minute to complement MacMillan's goal-scoring blitz.
The game was already out of hand with the U.S. leading 3-1 when MacMillan erupted for a second-half hat trick. This was the U.S. women's largest margin of victory this year and the biggest blowout since Nov.6 when the U.S. blasted Costa Rica 7-0 in CONCACAF's Women's Gold Cup.
Yesterday's one-sided affair was not surprising. On Wednesday, Canada became a replacement for Nigeria after the African champions failed to obtain visas.
The Canadians had one day of training and were forced to field a young and inexperienced team against a powerful American squad. Because Canada took this game on short notice, the Canadian Soccer Association was not able to give club teams 15 days prior notice for the national team call-up and clubs were not forced to release players.
This was not the same Canadian team the U.S. tied 1-1 in the Algarve Cup in Portugal on March14.
The U.S. received an early wake-up call in the seventh minute when forward Christine Sinclair gave Canada a shocking 1-0 lead on a defensive gaffe by U.S. central defender Brandi Chastain. Canadian defender Melanie Booth played a ball forward from the midfield stripe to Sinclair. The ball bounced in front of Chastain and then over her head. Sinclair won the foot race with the 34-year-old Chastain and rolled the ball into an open net from 12 yards out after U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry came off her line.
"We didn't start right," MacMillan said. "We definitely didn't start like we know how to play. When we get into the World Cup, if you let a goal like that go in early, that's trouble. Luckily today, we were able to bounce back and punish them."
Wagner finished with two assists, both on MacMillan second-half goals. Wagner, who was the top overall pick in the WUSA draft out of Santa Clara, delivered a beautiful backheader into space in the 55th minute for MacMillan to run on to. From 22 yards, MacMillan one-touched Wagner's ball and drilled a right-footed blast to the near post past bewildered Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod that gave the U.S. an insurmountable 4-1 lead.
"[MacMillan] was a complete world-class player today," U.S. national team coach April Heinrichs said.

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