|Marta (No. 10, two goals) and Daniela Alves (one tally) led Brazil past the United States. (JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES)|
Brazil takes US women to soccer school
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil won the first of two gold-medal showdowns with the United States yesterday, giving the Americans a 5-0 lesson in soccer at the Pan American Games.
Tournament high scorer Marta, the FIFA Player of the Year, and striker Cristiane each scored two goals. Daniela Alves added another to lead Brazil to its second consecutive gold medal at the hemisphere-wide games.
On the pitch, it was a one-sided battle from the start, with the United States fielding its Under-20 team against a seasoned Brazilian squad that won a 2004 Olympics silver medal and a gold at the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo. Most of the players on the Brazil team in Rio will represent the nation at the Women's World Cup in September in China. None of the US players will be there.
"It ended up being revenge," said team captain Aline. "To listen to the American anthem in the final in Athens 2004 was hard."
Added a sobbing Marta: "I've been through a lot, but this is a very special day. Women's soccer showed the country it should be there on the podium. There are a lot of Martas out there. Let's not stop now."
Brazil threatened in the opening minute when striker Cristiane sent a cross from the left flank that floated untouched across the goalmouth of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
"It is pretty amazing that we got the chance to play against Brazil in Maracana Stadium, it is one of those rare opportunities that I will remember forever," said US striker Lauren Cheney.
The US men qualified for the Beijing Olympics by taking the water polo championship. Team captain Tony Azevedo led a 9-2 romp. Azevedo scored four goals and got help from Jesse Smith, Jeff Powers, Ryan Bailey, Ronald Beaubein, and Daniel Hewko as the United States dominated the Brazilians.
In basketball, the US men suffered their second loss in as many nights, this time to Panama, 75-67, in the preliminary round. The US is eliminated from advancing to the medal round semifinals.
Two Cuban boxers who defected during the Games signed five-year contracts to fight on a cable television station in Hamburg, Germany.
Guillermo Rigondeaux, a bantamweight who won gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and Erislandy Lara, an amateur welterweight world champion, signed with Arena TV.