IRAKLION, Greece -- The goal was classic Mia. Her assist was even better -- and a lot more fun to watch.
Mia Hamm set up a first-half goal with a stutter step that left a Greek defender sprawled on the turf and covering her head in shame.
By the time Hamm scored on a solo run in the second half, the U.S. women's soccer team's 3-0 embarrassment of their hosts was complete, compounded by
a mostly empty stadium Wednesday on the first day of competition in the 2004 Olympic Games.
"You know Mia -- she does that to us in practice," teammate Shannon Boxx said of Hamm's faked-out opponent. "I know how she feels -- I would be
nervous seeing Mia running down at me one-on-one."
The Americans completely dominated. Even though the Greeks took the first shot, it was also their last. The U.S. team went on to take 26 of their own,
and Briana Scurry picked up her 70th career shutout.
Looking to re-establish its supremacy after disappointing finishes in the 2000 Olympics and 2003 World Cup, the Americans continue first-round play
Saturday against Brazil in the only Olympic sport that begins play before Friday's opening ceremony.
In other women's games, Germany beat China 8-0; Brazil defeated Australia 1-0; and Japan beat Sweden 1-0. On the men's side, Argentina opened with a
6-0 win over Serbia-Montenegro; Tunisia tied Australia 1-1; Mexico and Mali played a scoreless tie; and the host Greeks tied South Korea 2-2.
Hamm's heroics began only moments into her final Olympic tournament. In the 14th minute, she put her stutter fake on Angeliki Lagoumtzi and took
advantage of the clear alley to hit Boxx, who nailed a 12-yard shot to the left of the goalkeeper.
Lagoumtzi, suitably humbled, pulled her shirt up to cover her face when she saw the ball go into the net.
But Lagoumtzi's embarrassment wasn't over. She also played a key role in the Americans' second goal -- thanks to her jewelry.
Lagoumtzi was ordered to the sideline by the referee because she was wearing a necklace. While she was taking it off, the Americans exploited the
temporary man-advantage and moved quickly, with Kate Markgraf crossing to Abby Wambach for a 10-yard header over Giatrakis in the 30th minute.
Hamm added a goal of her own in the 82nd minute, outmaneuvering two defenders for a 16-yard shot that banked off the left post.