FERREIRAS, Portugal (March 9, 2009) – Forward Megan Rapinoe scored in the 21st minute to give the U.S. Women’s National Team a 1-0 victory against Norway in the final group game for both teams at the 2009 Algarve Cup.
The U.S. will face Sweden in the Algarve Cup championship game on Wednesday, March 11, at the Stadium Algarve in Faro. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. local / 12 p.m. ET and fans can follow live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Sweden won Group A by defeating Germany 3-2 after going up 3-0 at halftime, in a game the Scandinavians had to win to make the title match. The championship game match-up pits U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage against her home country.
Coming into the Norway game, the USA had already qualified for the championship by virtue of earlier victories over Denmark and Iceland, but the U.S. put a positive capper on group play with its third straight shutout in a contest that at times turned into a track meet of counter attacks.
Norway fielded a squad with several young players and battled gamely for the entire match with the U.S. goal coming slightly against the run of play. It originated from the left wing as midfielder Kacey White took a hard dribble down the flank before playing a threaded pass to Amy Rodriguez at the top of the penalty area. With her back to the goal, Rodriguez spun a first-time pass to Rapinoe, who took a touch to the inside to beat a player, continued for a few more yards and then smashed her skimming shot across the face of the goal, off the left post and into the net. Norwegian goalkeeper Caroline Knutsen almost got a glove to the ball, but the pace of the shot was enough to beat her.
It was Rapinoe’s third international goal in just her second start after scoring twice off the bench against Chinese Taipei in 2006.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo came up big for USA once again, making an eye-popping save in the 18th minute off a shot from Kristine Lie. The Norwegian forward found space at the top of the U.S. penalty area on the left side and struck a spinning shot that was surely headed into the absolute upper right corner. Solo got a magnificent jump on the ball and executed a fully extended dive to tip the ball over the goal with her right hand. She then punched away the ensuing corner kick.
While the game was end-to-end, and the USA did outshoot Norway 12-9, both teams struggled to consistently test each other’s ‘keeper. Norway did have a golden chance in just the fourth minute as Ingvild Isaksen popped free in front of the goal, but shot wide right from 10 yards away.
The USA almost made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute as White lifted a looping pass over the Norway defensive line to Rodriguez, who powered through a defender to win the ball, but lifted her shot just wide right of the goal.
Lindsay Tarpley, who played in the center of the midfield for the full 90 minutes, had a semi-breakaway chance five minutes into the second half as she ran onto a ball that had been guided on by halftime sub Natasha Kai, but Knutsen got a piece her close range shot to push it wide left.
Norway put excellent defensive pressure on the U.S. backs and midfielders, making it very difficult for the Americans to find an attacking rhythm. The U.S. backs were stellar, matching Norway’s physical play for 90 minutes. On the back line, Sundhage gave a first cap to Kendall Fletcher, who also picked up her first yellow card, while Rachel Buehler, Heather Mitts and Christie Rampone ran down every counter attack and battled for every air ball. Shannon Boxx came into the game in the 62nd minute for Mitts as Fletcher moved to right back and helped keep the Norwegian attack at bay.
Solo pulled off another top class save in the 83rd minute when Norwegian captain Ingvild Stensland rocketed a shot that forced U.S. ‘keeper to spring straight up and tip it off the crossbar and over the goal.
The USA is the only country in the 12-team tournament that has yet to allow a goal.
The USA will be playing in its seventh straight Algarve Cup championship game, having won the tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. The USA fell in penalty kicks to Germany in the 2006 final. The USA won the Algarve Cup for the first time in 2000 and will be going for its sixth overall title.
- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT -
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Norway
Date: March 9, 2009
Competition: 2009 Algarve Cup; Group B
Venue: Parque Desportiva da Nora; Ferreiras, Portugal
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (11 a.m. ET)
Weather: 66 degrees, sunny, breezy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
NOR 0 0 0
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Amy Rodriguez) 21st minute
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (7-Shannon Boxx, 62), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 13-Kendall Fletcher, 4-Rachel Buehler; 9-Heather O’Reilly (12-Angie Woznuk, 83), 16-Angela Hucles (10-Carli Lloyd, 46), 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 21-Kacey White, 15-Megan Rapinoe (19-Tina DiMartino, 70), 8-Amy Rodriguez (6-Natasha Kai, 46)
Subs not used: 17-Lori Chalupny, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
NOR: 12-Caroline Knutsen; 6-Camilla Huse (10-Lindy Melissa Wiik, 60), 7-Trine Rønning, 15-Hedda Strand Gardsjord, 18-Toril Akerhaugen; 4-Ingvild Stensland, 5-Anneli Giske, 17-Maren Mjelde, 21-Lena Storløkken (13-Siri Nordeide Grønli, 80); 19-Ingvild Isaksen (11-Leni Larsen Kaurin, 60), 20-Kristin Lie
Subs not used: 1-Ingrid Hjelmseth, 2-Solfrid Andersen, 3-Marita Skammelsrud Lund, 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 14-Marthe Johansen, 16-Ingrid Schjelderup
Head Coach: Bjarne Berntsen
Statistical Summary: USA / NOR
Shots: 12 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 2 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 10
Offside: 5 / 7
USA – Kendall Fletcher (caution) 45th minute
NOR – Trine Ronning (caution) 75
Referee: Gyongyi Gall (HUN)
Assistant: Referee: Yolanda Parga Rodriguez (ESP)
Assistant: Referee: Maria Luisa Villa Gutierres (ESP)
Fourth Official: Kirsi Savolainen (FIN)
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