The victory over Germany, which featured six players from its 1999 Women's World Cup Team, put the Americans in prime position to gain a berth in the championship game as a win or a draw against Denmark on Friday would win Group 2 and the slot in the title game. Even a one-goal loss of any sort would be enough to make the championship game as the USA would be tied with Denmark on points, but would win the group on superior goal difference. Finland, which earned a crucial 2-1 win over Denmark, still has an outside chance to win the group, but would need a two-goal loss by the USA and a big win over Germany. In Group 1 action, Norway defeated Sweden 2-0 while Iceland picked up its first win over Australia, 2-1.
The Americans are on an apparent collision course with arch-rival Norway in the final. Norway faces Group 1 doormat Australia in its final group match needing just a draw to make the championship game.
The USA opened the scoring early against Germany on a corner kick from French in the 13th minute. Her cross flew to the back post and Wagner out-jumped a defender to send her header high into the net from five yards out.
"The chemistry within this team is tremendous," said Wagner, who along with French spent Jan. to May training with the full U.S. National Team during its residency training camp in Florida. "With two wins behind us, we're very confident going into Friday's match against Denmark. We are very pleased with our performance today against Germany and definitely excited about our continued improvement from game to game."
The Americans doubled their lead midway through the second half on Wagner's second goal of the day. Jen Streiffer's cross from right found the slashing Wagner inside the penalty box. She took a touch and placed her 12-yard shot into the left corner past fully-extended German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer.
"We had a game plan, the players executed and the result was a brilliant performance by this young team," said U.S. Head Coach Lauren Gregg, who led the team to the Nordic Cup title two years ago in a 1-0 sudden death overtime victory of Norway. "Our team defense was outstanding and neutralized an experienced German team. The back line of French, Danielle Slaton (Santa Clara/San Jose, Calif.), Ronnie Fair (Stanford/Los Altos, Calif.) and Lauren Orlandos (Univ. of Portland/Lake Forest, Calif.) was impenetrable. We played with a resolve and commitment to victory."
Wagner also created the third goal when German midfielder Havva Kulta tugged her down by her jersey in penalty box, nullifying what would have been a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. French closed the deal, nailing her penalty kick into bottom left corner.
"We generated numerous scoring opportunities despite the absence of Susan Bush (North Carolina/Houston, Tex.)," added Gregg, who is expecting her star forward back for the Denmark match after recovering from an MCL sprain. "In typical U.S. fashion, we had many players contribute to our offensive potency. Aly Wagner scored two beautiful goals, Jen Streiffer's distribution shredded their defense and Meredith Florance (North Carolina/Dallas. Tex.) once again gave us excellent mobility up top."
Gregg made just one change in the lineup from Monday's 1-0 victory over Finland, replacing goalkeeper Lakeysia Beene with Siri Mullinix, who made two saves and picked up the shutout.
1999 U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team vs. Germany|
|Competition:||1999 U-21 Nordic Cup Championship|
|Date:||Aug. 4, 1999|
|Weather:||76 degrees - Sunny, beautiful|
USA - Aly Wagner, (Michelle French), 13,
USA - Aly Wagner, (Jen Streiffer), 62,
USA - Michelle French, (Penalty Kick), 72.
USA - 18-Siri Mullinix, 3-Ronnie Fair (16-Kalli Kamholz, 73rd), 11-Michelle French (Capt.), 8-Lauren Orlandos, 15-Danielle Slaton, 7-Aly Wagner, 6-Jen Grubb, 12-Jenny Streiffer, 2-Veronica Zepeda (10-Aleisha Cramer, 46th), 4-Meredith Florance (9-Venus James, 79th), 5-Raven McDonald (14-Beth Keller, 52nd).
GER - 1-Nadine Angerer, 15-Sonja Fuss, 6-Stefanie Gottschlich, 4-Tina Wunderlich, 2-Janette Gotte, 9-Conny Pohlers (13-Havva Kulta), 10-Nicole Muller, 3-Ariane Hingst, 8-Madleen Wilder, 11-Tanja Vreden (14-Carmen Roth), 7-Katharina Lindner.
|Jen Grubb (caution)||66,|
|Havva Kulta (caution)||72,|
|Lauren Orlandos (caution)||75.|
|Pordur Ingi Guojnsson||(Iceland)|
|1999 NORDIC CUP|
RESULTS AND STANDINGS
Norway 7, Iceland 0
Sweden 3, Australia 1
Norway 2, Sweden 0
Iceland, 2, Australia 1
Sweden v. Iceland
Australia v. Norway
USA 1, Finland 0
Denmark 3, Germany 1
Finland 2, Denmark 1
USA 3, Germany 0
Denmark v. USA
Germany v. Finland