US disappoint in loss to Olympic co-favorites

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The Independent Football

The United States women's soccer team woke up too late.

The United States women's soccer team woke up too late.

Second-half substitute Cindy Parlow scored off a rebound from short range in the last minute as the Americans lost 2-1 to Norway in Oslo tonight in their final tuneup for the Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Playing before 15,762 fans at Ulleval Stadium, a record turnout for women's soccer in Norway, the Americans had another disappointing outing after tying the Norwegians 1-1 thanks to an own-goal by the hosts on Thursday at Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle.

"In the last 20 minutes we had an urgency (to score) when we went down 2-0, but we need a bit more consistency with that, a little more urgency on the ball and getting shots off and a little more threatening," said veteran Julie Foudy, who played for the 1996 Olympic and 1999 world champion team.

U.S. coach April Heinrichs agreed.

"They showed their urgency in the last 20 minutes, not in the first 70," Heinrichs said. "It just shows once again how small the margin is between the top five teams in the world.

The Americans lost their third match this year to Norway - the first two also by one goal in Florida in February - and they go into the Sydney Games with a 2-3-1 record against the co-Olympic favorites.

Norway had the better chances in the first half, although U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix was never seriously tested. The best one came in the 30th minute, when Dagny Mellgren headed just wide. Three minutes earlier, Kristine Lilly's goal was annulled because of offside.

Nikki Serlenga, who subbed for veteran Michelle Akers at the start of the second half, had a powerful near-miss early in the second half when she hit the right post with a 25-yard drive. Mia Hamm set up the play with a nice cross to Brandi Chastain, who tipped the ball on to the unmarked Serlenga.

Norway took the lead in the 62nd minute when Chastain and Danielle Slaton were too slow on the ball, Mellgren chasing down Monica Knudsen's lob pass and beating Mullinix with a shot to the right corner.

Norway went two up on an own-goal in the 81st minute, when Christie Pearce tried to clear the ball in front of Mullinix but accidentally shot it past the U.S. goalie.

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