The young U.S. team took the game to the far more experienced Canadians, who used eight players that played last November in Canada's victory over the U.S. Olympic veterans in Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. team never let up as they created six shots in the first 17 minutes to Canada's none. The USA fired 10 total shots in the first half. Canada took just two. They scored on both of them.
"It shows the talent level of our player pool that we can come to the Algarve Cup, outplay a team like Canada and create 13 shots on the frame," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "The difference out there was maturity and leadership, which we can only get through experience."
It was the U.S. that had the majority of scoring chances all game long, the first coming in just the 4th minute when Christie Welsh volleyed over the cross bar after running onto a punt from goalkeeper Hope Solo, but Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, who will play for the Boston Breakers in the WUSA this year, was always in the right place at the right time.
Heinrichs made four changes to the starting lineup from the Italy game last week, inserting forwards Alyssa Ramsey and Laura Schott, midfielder Aleisha Cramer and defender Keisha Bell. Cramer, who sat out the Italy game with an ankle injury, added spark to the U.S. midfield with her ball winning and ability to run the U.S. attack.
The USA could have busted the game open early when in the 11th minute Welsh snuck behind a Canadian defender to latch onto a bouncing ball, but her volley hit the crossbar and rebounded right back into the arms of LeBlanc, who had come out to challenge. In the 22nd minute, Welsh roared around the right side of the Canadian defense, but Ramsey, on a near post run, couldn't work herself free of her defender and the cross was cleared.
Canada's direct style of play produced little offense, but with opportunistic finishers like forwards Charmaine Hooper and Christine Sinclair up front, Canada only needed half-chances, and that's what they got. Both of Canada's goals came against the run of play, and of course, drawing first blood was Hooper, Canada's all-time leading scorer and a decade-long thorn in the USA's side who will play for the Atlanta Beat in the WUSA.
The USA's inexperience caught up with them on both goals as the marking in the penalty area broke down. The first goal developed as Kristina Kiss collected a loose ball 25 yards out and chipped a pass over U.S. back line. Hooper caught the USA too flat and raced in to lift the bouncing ball over the charging Solo, giving Canada a 1-0 lead on its first shot of the game in the 30th minute.
Right away, U.S. came back and put pressure on the Canada goal when Welsh tackled the ball from Leblanc as both raced to meet a back pass, but as with be the theme of the game, the ball bounced wide of goal.
Canada earned their first corner kick (and just one of two in the game) in 36th minute. Isabelle Harvey hit a wicked in-swinger to the near post and Sinclair went high to re-direct the ball with her head into net on a bounce.
The USA had two great chances to cut into the lead at the end of the half. In the 41st minute, a quick U.S. rhythm got Jena Kluegel isolated with one defender on the left flank. She lost her mark and sent a perfect cross to Laura Schott at the far post, but she guided her header just wide right of the goal.
Two minutes later, Catherine Reddick launched a free-kick into the penalty area. The ball was headed up in the air and fell to Schott, but she put her point-blank header right at LeBlanc. In the 60th minute Welsh busted through on left side of penalty area, but with defenders hanging all over her, her shot was kick-saved by LeBlanc.
"We were shooting and Canada was finishing," added Heinrichs. "Hooper knows how to put the ball where the goalkeeper isn't."
The Americans, who blew no less than six one-on-one chances in the match, turned up the pressure in the last 15 minutes and had a handful of golden opportunities to score, but could not put one away.
In the 73rd minute, Schott popped free behind the Canada defense as they paused, thinking she was offside. Schott dribbled around LeBlanc, but couldn't shoot quick enough before the defense recovered. One minute later, substitute Marcie Ward bent a cross on the ground from the right side to Stephanie Rigamat. Her first shot was blocked, but she corralled the rebound and had a point blank chance from five yards away, only to see Leblanc make a kick save.
In the 77th minute, Schott raced in on yet another breakaway after Cramer expertly unlocked the Canadian defense. Schott tried to bend the ball around LeBlanc, but she once again made a kick save. The ball rebounded to Ward, but with an open net, she hit the bouncing ball over the top.
In the 83rd minute, LeBlanc pushed Reddick's 25-yard free-kick over the top of the goal, and one minute later, LeBlanc was whistled for a rare six-second call, giving the USA an indirect free-kick 16 yards from the net. Kluegel smacked her shot towards the left corner, but LeBlanc fully extended to snag the ball. In the 78th minute, it was Rigamat that busted through on a breakaway, but a goal would not come for the USA, as LeBlanc's pesky feet once against denied the Americans.
The USA redefined "adding insult to injury" in stoppage time as Solo drop kicked the ball into Reddick's back. The ball bounced right to Hooper who simply lofted it into the open net from the top of the penalty area.
Defender Keisha Bell had to be replaced in the 67th minute when Sinclair ran over her as both chased a bouncing ball. Sixteen-year-old Amy Steadman replaced her and played well to earn her first cap.
In the other Group A game, Sweden defeated Portugal, 4-1. In Group B, Denmark stunned China, 2-1, with two second-half goals, including the game-winner in the 83rd minute. Norway crushed Finland, 5-1, on the strength of two goals from Dagny Mellgren of the Boston Breakers.
The USA now faces a steep challenge to make the Algarve Cup final and must win its remaining two group games while hoping for a Canadian loss. The USA faces host Portugal on March 13 and finished group play with Sweden on March 15. The placement matches are on March 17.
2001 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Canada|
|Competition:||2001 Algarve Cup|
|Venue:||Municipal Stadium (Lagos, Portugal)|
|Date:||March 11, 2001 - Kickoff 2 p.m. local (10 a.m. ET)|
|Weather:||78 degrees (Warm, Beautiful)|
CAN - Charmaine Hooper (Kristina Kiss), 30.
CAN - Christine Sinclair (Isabelle Harvey), 37.
CAN - Charmaine Hooper (unassisted), 91+.
USA - 18-Hope Solo, 5-Ally Marquand (3-Anna Kraus, 46th), 4-Katherine Reddick, 6-Keisha Bell (19-Amy Steadman, 68th), 2-Jena Kluegel, 15-Devvyn Hawkins (10-Joanna Lohman, 46th), 17-Aleisha Cramer, 11-Mary-Frances Monroe, 12-Christie Welsh (14-Marcie Ward, 56th), 9-Laura Schott, 8-Alyssa Ramsey (20-Stephanie Rigamat, 43rd).
CAN - 22-Karina LeBlanc, 2-Noel Trepanier, 3-Breanna Boyd, 6-Sharolta Nonen, 9-Janine Willis, 5-Andrea Neil (15-Kim Warner, 62nd), 16-Kristina Kiss, 13-Amy Walsh, 11-Christine Sinclair, 12-Isabelle Harvey (7-Clare Rustad, 68th), 10-Charmaine Hooper.
|Andrea Neil (caution)||9.|
|Charmaine Hooper (caution)||47.|
|Catherine Reddick (caution)||65.|