- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

PHILADELPHIA — Though she might not have pony-tailed girls screaming her name, Cindy Parlow eventually could be in the same soccer class as Mia Hamm.

Parlow is 25 and has 63 career goals in seven years with the U.S. team. Hamm, who is the world’s all-time leading goal scorer, has 142 and probably will add to her total during this Women’s World Cup. But if Parlow stays healthy and averages more than 10 goals a year with the national team for the next seven years, she’ll be challenging Hamm.

“It all depends,” Parlow said. “You never know how many international games you’re going to have in a year, and it depends on my health and how long I can keep playing.”

Hamm, 31, has said this is her last World Cup. Many speculate that Hamm’s upcoming marriage to Boston Red Sox slugger Nomar Garciaparra means it also will be her last international competition.

Parlow already is the fifth all-time leading scorer for the U.S. women. The Memphis, Tenn., native joined the national team when she was 17 and was the youngest member of the gold medal-winning 1996 Olympic team.

Her best season was 2000, when she scored 19 goals to lead the team, and posted four hat tricks — one short of the U.S. record in a calendar year. Parlow’s 128 international caps belie her age.

“Her experience is unbelievable, and she plays like that. Even though she is only 25, she plays like somebody in their 30s,” U.S. defender Kate Sobrero said.

At 5-foot-11, Parlow towers over the competition. With 5-11 forward Abby Wambach running alongside, the U.S. has the most imposing forward line in this competition.

That American height may turn out to be the ultimate difference in this World Cup. Nobody can match up with Parlow, an exquisite finisher, or the physically imposing Wambach, an equally dangerous goal scorer.

“It’s been so much fun to actually get in line with the ball and look to cross it and have a target player [Wambach] in there,” Parlow said. “I’ve always been the target player, so when I’ve gotten in line, I’ve never had a target player to play to. It’s been so much fun to look up and see this big 5-11 person standing there waiting for me to serve it to her.”

Parlow scored a beautiful goal in the 3-1 win over Sweden in the opening game of Group A play Sunday. Hamm served a perfect ball into the box off a corner kick, and Parlow sent in a high, looping header that shot under the crossbar from eight yards out to make the score 2-0.

On the play, Parlow rose over a Swedish defender and nodded the ball in. There was no way the shorter Swedes could have stopped the shot. It was her third career World Cup goal, all three off headers.

In U.S. coach April Heinrichs’ 4-3-3 alignment, Parlow starts on the right flank and then drifts into the middle as the game necessitates. In a World Cup tuneup against England in May, Parlow scored four goals.

“I went against Abby all season long [in WUSA], and you can’t contain her and you can’t contain Cindy, the same with Mia,” said Sobrero, simply acknowledging the Americans’ superiority at forward.

Note — Select team members met rocker Bon Jovi at the team hotel yesterday morning. Defenders Sobrero, Kylie Bivens, Cat Reddick and Christie Pearce, who is a Point Pleasant, N.J., native, along with midfielder Aly Wagner and forwards Tiffeny Milbrett and Parlow met the New Jersey-born star. No word if team captain Julie Foudy approached him to be an investor in the defunct WUSA.

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