Tiffeny Milbrett  
 


There are about a dozen soccer players in the world you never turn your back on. Tiffeny Milbrett is one of them. The diminutive striker for the WUSA’s New York Power and Team USA has the full package—speed, anticipation, on-the-fly creativity, and an amazing arsenal of shots. And she’s most dangerous when a game is up for grabs. Long an outsider in women’s soccer, Tiffeny has risen to the pinnacle of her sport. This is her story…

GROWING UP

Tiffeny Carleen Milbrett was born on October 23, 1972, in Portland, Oregon. Her father wasn’t around much when she was a kid, and has never been a part of her life. Her mom, Elsie Milbrett, raised Tiffeny and her older brother, Mark, by herself.

Life wasn’t easy for the Milbretts. Elsie, who worked long hours on the assembly line of a fiber-optic manufacturer, made just enough to support the family. Tiffeny and Mark were often left to look after themselves. This made both extremely independent and mature at a young age. Tiffeny spent part of her summers doing odd jobs to earn extra money. Of all her summertime gigs, she remembers picking strawberries as being the worst.

Tiffeny was introduced to athletics by her mother. Elsie grew up a sports nut in the late 1950s and early 1960s in western Oregon. Back then opportunities for female athletes were few and far between. Still she found ways to feed her love of sports. She played softball in a men's league in suburban Portland, then helped form a women’s circuit.

In 1979, Elsie spearheaded a women's soccer league. Every week Tiffeny accompanied her mom to games, and watched intently from the sidelines. She recalls kicking around the soccer ball for the first time not long after her third birthday. By the time she was 10, Tiffeny was a regular sub in her mom’s games. If a player failed to show, Elsie would take a defensive position on the opposing team, and her daughter would play forward in her stead. Tiffeny learned a lot from those battles. Her confidence soared when she turned the corner on her mother. Elsie never cut her daughter any slack after that.

Soccer wasn’t the only sport that interested Tiffeny. She was also crazy about basketball. During the summer when she was bored, Tiffeny would ride her bike to a local park, and shoot baskets for hours on end. More than once angry neighbors yelled at her to go home.


 
 

Tiffeny also followed sports religiously on television. The tennis rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova really began to heat up in the early 1980s, and she rarely missed one of their matches. Flo Hyman, one of the greatest volleyball players in U.S. history, was also a hero of Tiffeny’s. All three gave the youngster a sense of what she could become as an athlete.

Tiffeny got her first taste of organized sports after she turned seven and began playing in a local soccer league on a team coached by her mother. From the start, Tiffeny was a lethal goal scorer. Though she was small, she possessed explosive speed, an advantage she exploited every time she stepped on the field. Before long Tiffeny began to tell her mom that she would one day compete in the Olympics—even though women’s soccer was not yet an Olympic sport.

Despite her loving and stable home life, growing up in a single-parent family was hard at times on Tiffeny. Sports was her escape. Things improved after Elsie married Warren Parham, but Tiffeny viewed her stepdad as her mom’s husband as opposed to her “new” dad.

By the time Tiffeny entered Portland’s Hillsboro High School in the fall of 1986, she was a celebrated three-sport star. As a sophomore, she started at point guard on the girls’ varsity basketball team, and competed as a sprinter and long jumper on the track team. But she was at her best on the soccer field. College coaches began recruiting Tiffeny during her sophomore season with the Spartans, the first of three in a row she was named Oregon’s High School Player of the Year. She scored a record 54 goals one season, and finished her prep career with 131 goals, also a state mark in Oregon. Twice she garnered All-America honors from Parade Magazine.

ON THE RISE

As Tiffeny neared the end of her high-school career, she had her choice of colleges nationwide. Women’s soccer programs were flourishing at dozens of top universities, and she had the grades to attend any of them. But Tiffeny liked the idea of staying close to home, and accepted a scholarship from the University of Portland. The school was in the midst of a massive plan to rebuild its struggling men’s and women’s soccer teams. The man hired to do the job was the legendary Clive Charles. He started as the coordinator of both programs, but in 1989 became coach of the women’s team. The Pilots improved immediately, finishing at 10-6-0.

Charles oversaw the creation of a state-of-the-art soccer facility. The centerpiece was Harry A. Merlo Field, which was christened in the fall of 1990, just in time for Tiffeny’s freshman season. It quickly developed the reputation as one of the nation’s most impressive venues.

In Tiffeny, Charles knew he had a bona fide star who could raise the Pilots to a championship level. She adjusted seamlessly to the college game. Tiffeny topped Portland with 18 goals as a frosh, earned recognition as the team’s MVP, and was voted National Freshman of the Year by Soccer America. The Pilots won the Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference championship, and cracked the national top 20 (reaching No. 12) for the first time in school history.


Chris Evert, 1986 Fax Pax

 
 

Tiffeny drew the attention of U.S. soccer officials with her sparkling performance. When April Heinrichs came up lame for the national team just before a tournament in China, the 18-year-old was asked to replace the veteran forward. The invitation was a tremendous honor. With Team USA preparing for the inaugural Women’s World Cup, this was a golden opportunity to get in on the ground floor of soccer history. But blending in with the squad was difficult. U.S. coach was Anson Dorrance, also the head man at North Carolina, had stacked his roster with experienced stars like Michelle Akers and Carin Jennings and UNC standouts such as Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly. Tiffeny never felt completely accepted by this tight-knit group.

In China, Tiffeny watched all the action from the sidelines. When Team USA returned to Asia several months later for the Women’s World Cup, Heinrichs reassumed her spot on the roster. Her two goals in the semifinals against Germany sealed a 5-2 victory. Against Norway in the final, Akers scored twice, including the clincher late in the second half, as the U.S. won 2-1.

Capturing the first Women’s World Cup was a major source of pride for the U.S. soccer program. While the American men were still years from catching the world’s elite teams, the women had risen to the top. This made it even more difficult for Tiffeny to crack the national team. She made her international debut in August of 1992 against Norway, but appeared in just 20 games during the next three years.

It wasn’t that Tiffeny failed to impress U.S. soccer officials. On the contrary, she starred for the West at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1990, 1993, and 1994, earning a gold medal in ’93 and a silver in ’94. She played for the under-20 Women's Team that won the 1993 International Women's Tournament in France, and for the U.S. squad that claimed the silver medal at the 1993 World University Games in Buffalo. But she just couldn’t break into the first 11 for Team USA.

Back in Portland, however, Tiffeny was still the heart and soul of the team. During her sophomore season, the Pilots improved to 13-2-2, and just missed their first-ever berth in the NCAA playoffs. Tiffeny led the squad again with 25 goals. An easy choice as All-America, she was also a finalist for the Hermann Trophy and Missouri Athletic Club Award.

The following season was a huge one for Tiffeny. She finished 1992 as the nation’s second-leading scorer with 30 goals and 12 assists, and again was a runner-up for the Hermann Trophy and Missouri Athletic Club Award. Portland, meanwhile, rode its star to a school-record 18 victories, the #3 ranking in the polls, and a spot in the NCAA playoffs. (Charles pulled a rare double by also leading Portland’s men’s team to the post-season.) Now a member of the West Coast Conference, the Pilots took the league title, and Tiffeny was voted the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

The highlight of the ’92 campaign may have been when North Carolina visited Portland. The mighty Tar Heels were the class of women’s collegiate soccer, and boasted the game’s best player in Mia Hamm. She and Tiffeny were the two most dangerous goal-scorers in the country. A record crowd packed Merlo Field for the contest, and though the Pilots lost, they had nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, no one beat North Carolina in 1992. The Tar Heels went 25-0, and won the national title.


Michelle Akers, 1994 Upper Deck
 
 

Going into her senior season, Tiffeny took a long, hard look at her career. The 1995 Women’s World Cup and 1996 Olympics were just around the corner, and her role on the U.S. national team was finally growing in significance. With an eye toward the future, the 20-year-old chose to redshirt in 1993, thus giving herself lots of time to sharpen her skills without having to train exclusively with the Pilots. She was just a notch below true elite status at this point, and needed to concentrate on the nuances of her game. Tiffeny was fast, but she needed to get quicker. She was a great finisher, but needed to become “automatic.” She could outmaneuver experienced defenders, but had to acquire the moves to embarrass them.

The downside of this plan was that Tiffeny felt she was leaving then Pilots high and dry. She was thrilled therefore when Portland had a successful season, coming within one victory of reaching the Final Four. Super soph Shannon MacMillan filled in admirably for Tiffeny, recording 23 goals and 12 assists in 21 games.

With Tiffeny back in the fold for the 1994 campaign, the Pilots had visions of a national championship. No one boasted a better one-two scoring punch than Milbrett and MacMillan, and the schedule also favored Portland—particularly with the women’s soccer Final Four slated for Merlo Field. Tiffeny and her teammates knew how important home-field advantage could be come the playoffs.


Mia Hamm, 1999 Soccer Jr.
 
 

The Pilots surged to a record of 14-5-0 during the regular season, including a perfect 7-0-0 mark in league play. When MacMillan broke a bone in her right foot midway through the year, Tiffeny picked up the slack. Going into the NCAA playoffs, she had 25 goals, giving Portland every reason to believe a national championship was within reach. The team’s post-season prospects were further bolstered when MacMillan returned from her injury.

Tiffeny seemed to rise to the occasion every time the Pilots needed her. In the quarterfinals against Stanford, she broke a 0-0 tie the first overtime period on a breakaway. When Susie Boots answered with a goal for the Cardinal, Tiffeny came to the rescue again. After a scoreless second OT period, the game moved into sudden-death. With less than a minute left, Tiffeny blasted home a shot from 15 yards out to give Portland a 2-1 victory.

The dramatic win moved the Pilots into to the Final Four for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, they fell to Notre Dame, the top-ranked team in the nation. Though Tiffeny was disappointed, she still points to the tournament—particularly the Stanford game—as the highlight of her college career.

MAKING HER MARK

In the minds of many, 1995 was a breakthrough year for Tiffeny, but her memories aren’t quite so sweet. She started 10 of 21 games for Team USA during the year, partly because of injuries to Akers. But “replacing” one of women’s soccer’s true legends intensified the pressure on her to perform. In addition, she and her U.S. teammates were feeling the weight of defending their crown at the second Women’s World Cup, this time in Sweden.

 
 

Tiffeny was also trying to get accustomed to a new coach, as Tony DiCicco, an assistant on the 1991 team, took over for Dorrance. With Akers still ailing, Tiffeny saw plenty of action early in the 1995 Women’s World Cup. She netted a pair of goals in three first-round matches, helping America advance to the quarterfinals. Then, in a 4-0 rout of Japan, she scored again. The U.S. got derailed in the semis against Norway, however, losing 1-0. The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow. Tiffeny finished the tournament tied with Tisha Venturini and Kristine Lilly for the team lead in goals with three, but was devastated like the rest of her teammates. To make matters worse, she still felt like an outsider on the squad.

The next major women’s soccer tournament would take place at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the first time the sport was to be included as part of the Summer Games. After the club's failure in Sweden, Coach DiCicco decided to revamp Team USA. He added several young players to make the squad a bit more athletic, and installed a more defensive-minded style of play. Tiffeny applauded the first move, but disagreed with the second; at times the new system stifled her creativity on the field. (In fact, the two clashed throughout DiCicco’s tenure over this very matter.)

When it came time for the Olympics, however, Tiffeny concentrated on the task at hand. After beating Denmark in their first match of the round-robin tournament, the American women disposed of Sweden. Next up was China, which battled Team USA to a 0-0 tie. That was good enough to get the Americans to the semifinals, where they faced Norway. To throttle the American attack, the Norwegians battered Tiffeny and her teammates from the opening kickoff. Up 1-0 at the intermission, Norway was finally whistled for a foul in the second half. That was the break the U.S. needed. Akers nailed the resulting penalty kick to tie the match at 1-1. In the overtime, Shannon MacMillan scored the winning goal to move the Americans into the final, a rematch with the Chinese.

A record crowd of 76,481 filled Sanford Stadium for the gold medal game. As it turned out, they were the only fans in the U.S. to watch the historic match live. In a controversial decision, NBC chose not to broadcast the event. The Americans controlled play early. When MacMillan blasted home a rebound to put Team USA ahead 1-0, it looked like the home squad might win in a rout. But China regrouped, tying the score on a goal by Sun Wen. That’s when Tiffeny grabbed the game by throat. Reading Joy Fawcett’s second-half run down the right sideline perfectly, she found open space in the middle of the field, and readied herself for a cross. When Fawcett made the pass, Tiffeny slid into position and calmly redirected a shot by China goalkeeper Gao Hong. From there the U.S. held on to take the gold.

Despite the jubilation in the U.S. locker room, Tiffeny still had some choice words for NBC. Outspoken as usual, she criticized the network for ignoring women’s soccer.

Tiffeny’s life changed after the Americans won the gold. Like many of her teammates, she was approached with endorsement deals, and toured the country signing autographs. Of course, some players, most notably Hamm, attracted more media attention than others. This didn’t go unnoticed by Tiffeny.

The U.S. team’s next mission was reclaiming the Women’s World Cup, slated for play in America in 1999. The squad was still trying to master DiCicco’s system, and seemed to get better with each tournament, especially Tiffeny. During the 1997 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup (which the Americans won), she set a U.S. record with five assists in a 9-1 drubbing of Australia.

1998 brought more championships for the Americans, including the gold medal at the Goodwill Games. Tiffeny chipped in with a goal against Denmark in the semifinals. For the third consecutive year, she finished second on the team in scoring (14 goals, nine assists) behind Hamm.

Based on their fine play, Team USA was the favorite heading into the 1999 Women’s World Cup, with China and Norway the prinicpal challengers. In tune-ups that spring, the Americans continued to look strong. In April, Tiffeny scored four goals in a 9-0 rout of Japan. By June, she was the squad’s leading scorer, with 12 goals.

Team USA’s status as the world’s top squad helped convince television executives to give the tournament far more coverage than they had during the 1996 Olympics. If Tiffeny and her teammates won—and put on a good show in the process—the exposure would lead to the formation of a pro league. Prior to that, the top U.S. players had few options in this regard. There were women’s leagues in Asia and Europe, including one in Japan (where Tiffeny spent parts of three seasons).

Nike led the charge in the promoting the Women’s World Cup. The athletic footwear giant ran a series of commercials that highlighted Team USA as a whole, which pleased Tiffeny immensely. In the past, the spotlight had shone solely on Hamm. While she was still front and center, the rest of the team was now getting its due.

In the first round of the tournament, the Americans barely broke a sweat. In a group with Denmark, Nigeria, and North Korea, they won all their first-round matches. Tiffeny netted three goals in the three games.

Things got tougher in the quarterfinals against Germany. A mistake by Brandi Chastain led to an embarrassing own-goal that put the Americans down 1-0. But Tiffeny rallied her teammates with a tally that evened the score. When Germany regained the lead, Chastain atoned for her blunder with a goal off a corner kick. A short time later Joy Fawcett headed home the game-winner.

In the semifinals against Brazil, the U.S. set the tone early, as Cindy Parlow scored in the fifth minute. It remained that way deep into the second half, thanks mostly to the sparkling play of Briana Scurry in net. The Americans finally sealed their victory when Akers drilled home a penalty kick.

Team USA’s opponent in the final was China, a squad they knew very well. The two had locked horns on several occasions in the past, including their dramatic gold medal match at the 1996 Olympics. The keys for the Americans this time around would be cracking China’s tough defense, and keeping star Sun Wen under wraps.


Kristine Lilly, 1994 SI for Kids
 
 

By now Team USA had captured the public’s imagination. An estimated 40 million viewers tuned into the match on TV. They saw a tense defensive struggle that produced few scoring chances for either side. The game entered overtime tied at 0-0, and when no one broke through in either of the extra periods, the match went into penalty kicks. Scurry made the first big play, diving to her left to knock away China’s third attempt. Then Chastain stole the show, scoring on America’s fifth and final PK to give her team the title. When she shed her jersey in celebration, she created the lasting image of the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

Tiffeny, who finished the tournament with a team-high three goals, never got it going against China. Still, she was in high demand during the resulting media push. She appeared with Hamm and Chastain on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Though Tiffeny enjoyed meeting Letterman, she took umbrage when he referred to the U.S. team as “Babe City.”

For Tiffeny and her teammates, the publicity generated by the 1999 Women’s World Cup eventually became a distraction. That was clear at the 2000 Olympics in Australia. Though the Americans had won five tournaments in the months leading up to the Summer Games (Nike U.S. Cup, Australia Cup, Algarve Cup, Australian Pacific Cup, and the inaugural Women’s Gold Cup), they seemed to be going through the motions. Confidence was also an issue, due to a pair of losses to Norway during the year and one to China. At the same time, the team was adjusting to changes at the top and on the roster. April Heinrichs had taken over as coach, and one of her first moves was to install Siri Mullinix as the starting goalkeeper.

Tiffeny was one of the squad’s few consistent performers during this transition period. In the Women’s Gold Cup final in Massachusetts, she scored the only goal in the team’s 1-0 victory over Brazil, and was named the tournament’s offensive MVP.

In Sydney, the Americans scored early-round wins over Norway and Nigeria, but could not maintain their momentum. They were flat in the semifinals against Brazil, squeaking by with a 1-0 victory. Tiffeny played a role in America’s only tally. In what she later admitted was probably a foul, she sideswiped the Brazilian goalkeeper, which left Hamm alone to score the winning goal.

The final matched the U.S. against Norway. Tiffeny gave her team an early lead, but the Norwegians knotted the score just before intermission, then moved ahead 2-1 in the second half. After Tiffeny struck again to send the contest into overtime, Norway’s Dagny Mellgren stunned the Americans by beating Mullinix to steal away the gold.

Despite the loss, women’s soccer in the U.S. continued to grow. In the spring of 2001, the Women’s United Soccer Association began play. Designated a founding player, Tiffeny signed a five-year contract worth $425,000. She listed the league’s West Coast teams, the San Jose CyberRays and San Diego Spirit, as her preferred places to play. The WUSA, however, placed her on the New York Power. She reacted angrily, feeling others like Hamm and Chastain had been accommodated with appointments on teams close to home. It wasn’t the first time Tiffeny registered her displeasure with the star treatment some players from Team USA received. In The Girls of Summer, a book published after the 1999 Women’s World Cup, she told author Jere Longman that she looked forward to the retirement of her more famous teammates from the national squad.


Brandi Chastain, 1999 Newsweek
 
 

The Power played their games at Mitchel Field on Long Island, drawing respectable crowds from the soccer-crazed suburbs of New York and New Jersey. The team constructed around Tiffeny held much promise. Sara Whalen could play anywhere, Nel Fettig was a good set-up player, and Jennifer Lalor knew how to control the action in the middle of the field. Christue Pearce and Gro Espeseth were solid at fullback, and Chinese star Gao Hong was a top keeper.

The team’s first two games ended in scoreless ties, as Tiffeny failed to find the net. The third contest, against the Carolina Courage, went to the Power, 3-1. Tiffeny launched a perfect corner kick right before halftime, and Fettig scored an easy goal—the first in franchise history. A month later, Tiffeny burned Kristine Lilly and the Boston Breakers for three goals—the WUSA’s first-ever hat trick.

The Power slumped in July, dropping four straight. But the team righted itself in time to make the playoffs, as Tiffeny finished with a flourish, scoring huge goals in wins over Carolina and Washington in August.

At season’s end, Tiffeny was crowned WUSA scoring champ, with 16 goals and 3 assists for 35 points. She also led the league with four multi-goal games—and was fouled more often than any other player. Named MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, she also made the All-WUSA First team, along with Espeseth.

The Power met San Jose in the playoffs. A formidable squad, the CyberRays boasted two all-leaguers in Sissi and Chastain and two veteran leaders, Julie Murray and Tisha Venturini. Murray opened the scoring, but the Power fought back to tie the score on a goal by Emily Janss. Chastain made it 2-1 when she drilled a penalty shot past Gao, only to see the Power knot the score again, this time on a lovely goal by Lalor.

The second half featured much tighter play. Sissi took over for the CyberRays, who bottled up Tiffeny and controlled the field. A long goal by Murray gave San Jose a 3-2 win and a ticket to the final.

Although a championship was not in the cards for Tiffeny, there was more hardware ahead. She was named U.S. Soccer’s Chevrolet 2001 Female Athlete of the Year—the second straight year she earned the award. The international soccer community, however, was not so quick to acknowledge her talents. When FIFA announced its Female Player of the Year in December of 2001, Tiffeny finished third in the voting behind Hamm and Sun Wen, who actually sat out most the WUSA season with knee and ankle injuries. Ironically, that slight ended up being a blessing in disguise for Tiffeny. Since then, she has seemed less concerned about her media persona and more committed to her soccer career.

Tiffeny’s commitment was definitely put to the test in 2002, as New York won only three games. The Power defense imploded, allowing 62 goals in 21 games. Opponents, meanwhile, restructured their defenses to stop Tiffeny, which limited her effectiveness. Exhausted from training and traveling with the national squad (she said she felt like she was carrying a “bear on her back”), she still managed to play at an All-Star level, but there’s only so much one woman can do. Not even two different coaches (Pat Farmer and Charlie Duccilli) could stop the bleeding.


Tiffeny Milbrett, SI for Kids
 
 

Although Tiffeny finished in the WUSA Top 10 with 28 points (10 goals and 8 assists) and recorded her second league hat trick, the year was basically a write-off.

After the 2002 season, Tiffeny, diagnosed with exhaustion, took six weeks off to recharge her batteries. She returned to the field for the eight-team CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, and scored for Team USA in a 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago. Four days later, against Panama, she exploded for five goals in the first 34 minutes to tie a 12-year-old team record shared by Chastain and Akers.

In the championship game, Tiffeny opened the scoring against an up-and-coming Canadian team with a goal in the first half. It was a picture-perfect left-footed volley on a pass threaded through two defenders by Lilly. Team USA won the match 2-1 in extra time, and Tiffeny was named tourney MVP.

But that wasn’t the highlight of Tiffeny’s season. That moment came in December, back home in Portland—as a spectator. She watched from the sidelines as her old coach, Clive Charles, led her alma mater to the NCAA championship. Tiffeny also got a kick when her old Pilots teammate, Shannon MacMillan, was named the Chevy Player of the Year for 2002 and dedicated the award to Charles, who was battling prostate cancer.

Team USA’s 2003 season started with the prestigious Four Nations Cup in China. In the first game, against Norway, Tiffeny broke a 1-1 tie in the second half as she darted through the defense and blasted a ball past Ingrid Hjelmseth. The game's final goal was scored by high-school phenom Heather O’Reilly.

In the championship game against Germany, Tiffeny was fouled as she battled for the ball near the goal. The penalty kick, taken by Aly Wagner, went to Tiffeny, who got the ball to Chastain. She then crossed it to Devvyn Hawkins, who drilled home a shot from a few feet away. Briana Scurry made several good saves to hold Germany scoreless and give Team USA a 1-0 win.

A few days later, the Power announced they had chosen Penn State star Christie Welsh. New coach Tom Sermanni liked the idea of pairing the 2001 Hermann Trophy winner—a native of Long Island—with Tiffeny on the front line.

The 2003 WUSA season began in April, and the Power faced a lot of question marks. Joining rookie Welsh were Shannon Boxx, a no-nonsense midfielder, and a pair of defensive standouts from the Australian national team, Cheryl Salisbury and Joanne Peters. Also in the mix was Lauren Orlandos, a key contributor to Portland’s 2002 NCAA title.

Sermanni, previously an assistant with the CyberRays and a former coach of the Aussie squad, liked his team. He was well acquainted with his newcomers, and Christie Pearce, Emily Janss and goalie Saskia Webber were all returning. Most important, Tiffeny was determined not to let the season get away from her, as it had in 2002.

A 5-0 loss to Atlanta in the 2003 opener—during which Power players were beaten to almost every free ball—did not bode well for the summer ahead. But as Tiffeny was the first to point out, fans had to be patient and let the squad come together.

That patience was tested as the Power lost their next two matches. In their fourth game, against defending WUSA champions Carolina, Tiffeny made sure New York captured that elusive first victory of the season. Dominating the action, she scored two goals in a 3-1 win.

Unfortaunately, the Carolina game proved one of Tiffeny’s few highlights of the season. After logging 63 points in her first two campaigns, she finished '03 with only five goals and six assists. Her disappointing season was magnified when WUSA officials announced that the league had no money left and cancelled the 2004 campaign. (Instead, Tiffeny is leading the Power in a mini-tournament in June, along with the Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers and Washington Freedom. League officials, players and coaches hope the event can resurrect the WUSA for 2005.)

But nothing had more of an impact on Tiffeny than the passing of Charles. He lost his bout with cancer in April of 2003.

Tiffeny ultimately put her head down and prepared for the 2003 Women’s World Cup, which the United States hosted at the last minute after the infamous SARS outbreak in China. She found herself in a new situation with the American aquad: riding the bench. Indeed, Tiffeny played sparingly in the team’s first four games, all U.S. victories. She desperately wanted to see significant time, but younger players like Shannon Boxx and Abby Wambach got the call. Adding to her frustration was the fact that the '03 World Cup would be her last.

Tiffeny's opportunity arrived in the semi-finals against Germany, when Heinrichs inserted her with the U.S. down 3-0. With the veteran on the field, the team’s offense immediately picked up. Tiffeny had the team’s best scoring chance when she took a cross from Hamm. It seemed to Germany’s day, though, as goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg made a magnificent save. The Germans held on for the shutout, and shattered American hopes for a second consecutive World Cup.

Tiffeny and her teammates had a final match, for third place against Canada. She entered the game just before halftime. Late in the match, with the U.S. clinging to a 2-1 lead, Tiffeny gained a bit of redemption. When Hamm sent another beautiful cross to her, she buried her 99th career international goal to seal the win for the Americans.

Tiffeny is now one goal shy of the century mark. Only five others, man or woman, have scored that many international goals. Whether she joins this exclusive club is uncertain. But no one questions whether she'll conintue to champion the cause of women's soccer.

TIFFENY THE PLAYER


2002 WUSA Media Guide
 
 

The sight of Tiffeny on the attack is one of the most unsettling in women’s soccer. She can bust a move on a defender, or just plain explode past her. Opponents are typically left with two options: retreat or foul her.

The tighter the game situation, the more dangerous Tiffeny becomes. She reads the field beautifully and has a sixth sense for emerging opportunities. Her production in the clutch and love of high-pressure play makes her a natural “go-to” girl and a respected leader. The fact that she speaks her mind enhances her stature in the eyes of teammates.

Tiffeny may be 30-something now, but anyone watching her can tell that she’s not really older, just wiser. She has been through the wars and knows how to pace herself, which only makes her more dangerous. With Mia Hamm and other Team USA veterans pondering retirement after the 2003 World Cup—and an Olympic score to settle in 2004—Tiffeny is poised to become the premier player in international soccer.

 


Tiffeny Milbrett, 2000 Roox
 
 
Tiffeny Milbrett

 
   
 

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