COLUMBUS, Ohio — The fans chanted "Mia! Mia! Mia!" as the game wound down and the United States' best player sat on the cold, metal bench in a blue warmup outfit.
For the first time in her World Cup career, Mia Hamm never got in. She wasn't needed.
The United States rested its stars for a bigger game ahead, letting its depth make the difference Sunday in a 3-0 victory over North Korea.
Not even the fans' pleas or a visit by Hamm's fiance — Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra — could sway coach April Heinrichs to change her mind.
"We told her the scenarios before the game," said Heinrichs, who has juggled the lineup for each game. "We talked to her a little bit about that. I'm sure she's a little disappointed."
The unbeaten Americans (3-0) will play Norway in their quarterfinal match Wednesday in Foxboro, Mass.
Norway, which beat the United States to win the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, wrapped up its first-round play on Saturday. That played heavily into Heinrichs' decision to rest her older stars as the U.S. team needed only a tie to advance.
Hamm watched from the bench, and team captain Julie Foudy got a new role — super sub — as youth carried the day. Abby Wambach had a penalty-kick goal and Cat Reddick — the only collegian on the roster — scored twice in the second half.
Heinrichs planned to get Hamm in for a few minutes in the second half, then changed her mind when the lead reached 3-0.
"After we scored our third goal, we were playing very confidently and had borderline cockiness," said Wambach, Hamm's teammate on the WUSA-champion Washington Freedom. "I think that's what's so exceptional about this team.
"We can score three goals without the most prolific goal-scorer in the world. When you do that, you know you have a great team, and you know you have a lot of depth."
The United States also has a top player who prefers the spotlight on her teammates.
"As a competitor, you want to get in there," Hamm said. "But at the same time, I have respect for my coaches and the decisions they make. And the thing is, we made them together. It wasn't just April deciding this."
The United States won its first two games in Group A — considered the toughest in the tournament — as Hamm reasserted herself and pushed her scoring record to 144 goals in international play.
Wambach, her flashy teammate on the Freedom, put the United States ahead to stay off a penalty kick in the 17th minute. Wambach, who tied Hamm for the WUSA scoring lead, beat goalkeeper Ri Jong Hui with a low kick to the right corner.
Foudy started the second half and played a role in both of Reddick's goals.
Foudy's header off a corner kick sent the ball on one bounce to Reddick, who knocked it in with her right thigh. Foudy later passed to Shannon MacMillan, who lofted the ball to Reddick in front of the net for a header.
Reddick assumed a major role when Brandi Chastain broke her foot. The senior from North Carolina scored her first two goals in the tournament Sunday.
SWEDEN 3, NIGERIA 0: Sweden became the other team to advance from Group A by beating Nigeria 3-0 on Sunday. The Swedes will face Brazil, which beat them in the 1995 World Cup and the 2000 Olympics.
"We don't have a good history with Brazil, but we are getting closer to a victory when we've lost so many times," coach Marika Domanski Lyfors said.
GHANA 2, AUSTRALIA 1: At Portland, Ore., Alberta Sackey scored a pair of goals to lead Ghana to its first-ever victory in Women's World Cup competition, a 2-1 win over Australia on Sunday night.
Ghana's victory in its final Group D match advanced China into the quarterfinals. China needed a win in the late game against Russia — or an Australia loss — to advance.
Ghana (1-2) went on the attack early. Mavis Dgajmah challenged Melissa Barbieri with shot that went off the Australia goalkeeper's fingertips and over the crossbar.
Adjoa Bayor's shot a minute later also hit the crossbar before sailing into the stands.
Barbieri made a pair of dramatic saves, first tipping Sackey's hard kick from out in front just over the goal, then fending off Sackey's header off a corner kick.
But Barbieri wasn't able to stop Sackey's next shot, which bounced off Australia captain Cheryl Salisbury and over the leaping goalkeeper's outstretched arms in the 33rd minute.
It was Ghana's first goal of the competition, and second overall World Cup goal. Nana Gyamfua scored in a 1-1 tie with Australia in 1999.
Sackey then took advantage when Barbieri fell trying to defend her shot in the 39th minute. Australia defender Dianne Alagich tried to make the save, but the rebound went right back to Sackey, who scored.