The game was played in wet conditions as rain peppered the field throughout the match, but a water-logged pitch did not slow the U.S. attack, which scored three first-half goals to put the game away against the Swiss Senior National Team, the only overage squad in the tournament.
Wagner opened the scoring 25 minutes into the match after receiving a pass from Susan Bush (Houston, Tex./North Carolina) inside the penalty box. She sidestepped a defender and cracked her shot into the lower right corner from five yards away.
The USA got its second goal just three minutes later and this time Wagner was the architect, combining with Aleisha Cramer to weave their way through the Swiss. Wagner rewarded Cramer inside the penalty box and she slotted her shot low into the right corner five yards out.
"We scored four great goals that were complete team efforts," said U.S. U-21 head coach Jillian Ellis, who is coaching in her first Nordic Cup tournament. "We got five substitutes into the game and everyone contributed. It was a great way to start."
The Americans scored their third goal just eight minutes before halftime as Jena Kluegel (Mahtomedi, Minn./North Carolina) worked her way free on the right flank and crossed to the far post. The ball fell on Zepeda's foot, and the U.S. midfielder ran through the ball to strike it home from close range.
Monroe sealed the match in the 53rd minute after Zepeda played a quick free-kick to her about 40 yards from the goal, catching the Swiss defense flat-footed. Monroe dribbled through several defenders before cracking a shot from 23 yards out into the bottom right corner.
"There were some nerves at the beginning of the game, but we still had the edge in possession," said U.S. captain Michelle French (Kent, Wash./Portland) who started at left back before moving to midfield in the second half. "Once we settled down and started to move the ball quicker, we started to dominate, the chances started coming and that's when we scored our goals."
The match was delayed by an hour after the U.S. team bus got stuck in a rain-related traffic jam, forcing an abbreviated warm-up in the chilly conditions. Due to the late start, the match had to be moved at halftime to a field with lights.
"The players responded very well to the adverse conditions," added Ellis. "Aleisha Cramer did a great job of controlling the midfield defensively. She won balls and was excellent at spraying passes around in the second half. Her change of the point of attack was awesome. Mary-Frances Monroe also had an excellent game playing behind the forwards, she was our engine, and Michelle French and Jena Kluegel were fantastic on the flanks."
Jenni Branam (Placentia, Calif./North Carolina) went the distance in goal, picking up the shutout while making one save. The USA has a day off before facing Sweden in its second Group B match on Sunday night in Hof. In the other Group B match, Finland edged Sweden, 1-0. In Group A, Norway trounced Denmark, 4-0, and Germany took out Iceland, 3-1.
The eight teams are divided into two groups of four, with first-round play consisting of round-robin matches within the group. The group winners will then play for the championship. The two 2nd-place group finishers will play for third place, the 3rd-place finishers for fifth and the last-place finishers will play for seventh. The tournament features a grueling schedule of four matches in seven days with the Final being held on Aug. 3 in Weisman.
The U.S. U-21s have advanced to the Nordic Cup Final in each of the past three years, all three times against Norway, and won the tournament in 1997 and 1999. The USA also won in 1993, led by Tiffeny Milbrett and Tisha Venturini, before going three years without a title.
2000 U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. U-21 Women's National Team vs. Switzerland National Team|
|Competition:||2000 Under-21 Nordic Cup|
|Venue:||Franken Stadium (Nurnburg, Germany)|
|Date:||July 28, 2000 - Kickoff 8 p.m. local (2 p.m. ET)|
|Weather:||55 degrees - Intermittent rain, cold|
USA - Aly Wagner, (Susan Bush), 25,
USA - Aleisha Cramer, (Aly Wagner), 28,
USA - Veronica Zepeda, (Jena Kluegel), 37,
USA - Mary-Frances Monroe, (Veronica Zepeda), 53.
USA - 24-Jenni Branam, 4-Anna Kraus, 2-Nandi Pryce, 11-Michelle French (Capt.), 23-Susan Bush (14-Marcia Wallis, 69th), 17-Aleisha Cramer, 9-Jena Kluegel (5-Caroline Putz, 77th), 7-Aly Wagner (21-Veronica Zepeda, 33rd), 12-Alyssa Ramsey, 13-Christie Welsh (8-Catherine Reddick, 56th), 2-Mary Frances Monroe (10-Kim Patrick, 60th).
SUI - N/A
|2000 Nordic Cup|
|Norway||1||1||0||0||4||0||3 (+4 GD)|
|Germany||1||1||0||0||3||1||3 (+2 GD)|
|Iceland||1||0||1||0||1||3||0 (-2 GD)|
|Denmark||1||0||1||0||0||4||0 (-4 GD)|
|2000 Nordic Cup|
|United States||1||1||0||0||4||0||3 (+4 GD)|
|Finland||1||1||0||0||1||0||3 (+1 GD)|
|Sweden||1||0||1||0||0||1||0 (-1 GD)|
|Switzerland||1||0||1||0||0||4||0 (-4 GD)|
July 28 Norway 4, Denmark 0
|Date||Match||Time (local)||Time (ET)||Venue|
|July 30||Iceland vs. Norway||12:45 p.m.||6:45 a.m.||Bayreuth|
|Denmark vs. Germany||3:00 p.m.||9:00 a.m.||Bayreuth|
|Switzerland vs. Finland||12:45 p.m.||6:45 a.m.||Hof|
|USA vs. Sweden||3:00 p.m.||9:00 a.m.||Hof|
|August 1||Iceland vs. Denmark||4:45 p.m.||10:45 a.m.||Frohnlach|
|Germany vs. Norway||7:00 p.m.||1:00 p.m.||Frohnlach|
|Switzerland vs. Sweden||4:45 p.m.||10:45 a.m.||Bamberg|
|USA vs. Finland||7:00 p.m.||1:00 p.m.||Bamberg|
|August 3||7th-8th Place||Noon||6:00 a.m.||Coburg|
|5th-6th Place||2:00 p.m.||8:00 a.m.||Coburg|
|3rd-4th Place||3:15 p.m.||9:15 a.m.||Weisman|
|1st-2nd Place||5:30 p.m.||11:30 a.m.||Weisman|