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U.S. Women Fall to Norway, 3-2, at Algarve Cup; USA Will Play Denmark for 5th Place on Thursday


LAGOS, Portugal (Tuesday, March 5, 2002) - Needing a win to gain a place in the Algarve Cup championship game, the U.S. Women's National Team dropped a 3-2 decision to archrival Norway, and will play Denmark for 5th place on Thursday after finishing third in Group B. Group A winner China will play Norway for the title.  Sweden will play Germany for 3rd place. Shannon MacMillan scored both goals for the USA, one in each half, to extend her scoring streak to four consecutive games, including all three Algarve Cup matches.

Norway needed a win to advance to the championship game, as a draw would have put Sweden through at the top of the group.  With the score tied at 2-2 and the U.S. pressing for the winning goal over the last 30 minutes, Norway got its winner in the 85th minute as Linda Ormen's cross from the right flank spun off a U.S. defender's shin and bounced to Solveig Gulbrandsen, who redirected the ball into the lower left corner from seven yards out.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had replaced LaKeysia Beene just a minute earlier to add her booming kicking game to the USA's push for a winner, but Solo ended up touching the ball for the first time as she picked it out of the back of her net.  The only team as disappointed as the USA was Sweden, who watched from the stands and was five minutes away from a berth in their second consecutive Algarve Cup championship game before Gulbrandsen struck.

The loss prolonged a multitude of frustrations for the U.S. team, who have won the Algarve Cup just once in seven trips to the tournament and suffered its fourth consecutive loss to Norway, dating back to the 2000 Olympic Final in Sydney, Australia, which the USA also lost, 3-2. Today's match as a whole was a fairly even affair, with the USA out-shooting Norway 14-13 and getting 10 corner-kicks to Norway's four.

The Americans got off to a great start against the always-combative Norwegians, as Aly Wagner got a small piece of a Danielle Fotopoulos' cross in just the 3rd minute, but spun her shot wide from 10 yards out.  Soon after, Tiffeny Milbrett had her soft header saved by diving Norwegian goalkeeper Bente Nordby.

The USA opened the scoring in the 14th minute as MacMillan gained possession about 35 yards out from the goal, cut to her right as she nut-megged Norwegian captain Hege Riise and then sent a 30-yard bomb on goal that dipped under Nordby and into the right corner.

One minute later, MacMillan almost scored again, running onto a deflection behind the Norway defense that put her on a breakaway against Nordby.  MacMillan tried to dribble around the Norwegian goalkeeper to the right, but Nordby got a piece of the ball.  MacMillan recovered the ball to shoot, but in a missed opportunity that would come back to haunt the USA, Brit Sandaune blocked the shot off the goal line.

"I like the way we started the game," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs.  "We went after Norway and put them under tremendous pressure.  Our corner kicks were outstanding and created a lot of chances." 

MacMillan also had a shot blocked just inside the penalty area and the Norwegian defender seemed to come down on the ball with her arms, but Scottish referee Craig Thomson let play go on.

The USA had several other great chances in the first half as MacMillan headed a ball off the left post before it was cleared for a corner kick.  On the ensuing kick, Norway midfielder Anita Rapp inexplicably sent a bullet header at her own goal from close range.  Nordby didn't even see the ball as it hit her on the shoulder and arm and bounced over the goal.

Midfielder Jena Kluegel, who got the start after not playing in the first two games, had a dangerous foray down the right flank after she beat Sandaune, then had her cross spin off the foot of Bente Kvitland and almost bounce into the goal, but instead went wide left for a corner kick.

Norway played its traditional 4-5-1 formation with forward Dagny Mellgren at the point, and the center-midfield trio of Hege Riise, Gulbrandsen and Monica Knudsen did a fine job of imposing their style on the match as the U.S. midfield perhaps showed some fatigue while playing its third game in five days.  Gulbrandsen and Trine Ronning were dangerous down the right flank in both halves, but it was Knudsen that created the equalizer.

In the 23rd minute, the stocky Knudsen busted through the middle of the defense.  Beene rushed out to challenge and laid her body down, getting a piece of Knudsen along with the ball, but Thomson felt she got more of the former and less of the latter, and whistled for the penalty kick. Riise then nailed her shot into the right corner to tie the game.

"We scored a great goal, then two minutes later we get another great chance and it gets cleared off the goal line," added Heinrichs.  "It comes down to not finishing chances early on, and then we give up a penalty kick.  Norway is down a goal and under tremendous pressure, and suddenly they are back in it.  It just shows you how quickly the game can change."

Six minutes later, U.S. defender Cat Reddick ran down a Norway long ball and played a short back pass to Beene in the left side of the penalty area. Beene miss-kicked the ball, topping it right to Mellgren, who took a touch past Beene deep into the left side of the penalty area.  From nearly the end line, she had the time to collect the ball and roll it into an empty net past a sliding Joy Fawcett.

After creating little in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the USA scored on its first shot of the period, as MacMillan notched her fourth goal of the tournament. Kristine Lilly beat Norway back line with perfect pass into the right side of the penalty area.  MacMillan held off a defender and seems to lose her angle and she dribbled deep into the box, but then lifted shot by Nordby into right corner for her 43rd international goal.

Had the USA scored two more goals against England in it's game on Tuesday, it could have tied and still gone to the championship game based on a superior goal difference over Norway and Sweden.  Sweden won a wild 6-3 game over England in the first Group B match of the day, getting the three-goal win they needed to advance to the championship game had the USA and Norway tied.

MacMillan has several dangerous free kicks that could have given the USA the lead, but her shot from 22 yards out in the 60th minute was deflected for a corner kick.  In the 73rd minute, a MacMillan free-kick from 30 yards out forced a scrambling save from Nordby at the right post. She gave up a rebound and Milbrett volleyed it from almost the on end line, but Nordby smothered the ball.  In 64th minute, Beene came out of the penalty area in an attempt to clear with her feet, and missed the ball, giving Mellgren another shot that was blocked by a U.S. defender for a corner kick.  Beene soon redeemed herself by grabbing the kick in busy traffic, then a minute later gobbled up a difficult cross on the ground that had been whipped in from the right flank.

"Norway is tough," said Heinrichs.  "They're smart, experienced, economical, but we were getting after them and then we make the back pass mistake.  It took the wind out of our sails a bit, but we regrouped in the second half and started to create some chances.  We went to a 4-3-3 and that helped us get a hold of the game a little bit better."

The USA took the game to Norway in final 30 minutes, but Norway was content to sit back and counter, which they did with some effectiveness through Linda Ormen and Gulbrandsen, and the two eventually combined for the winning goal.

The USA had several chances to tie the game in the final minutes, but a draw would still have sent the Americans to the 5th place match.  In the 88th, Ormen cleared a ball off the line after a corner kick and in stoppage time, Nordby had to scoop a Julie Foudy header off the top of the crossbar.

The USA played without two of its top forwards in Mia Hamm, the world's all-time leading scorer, who is home recovering from knee surgery, and Cindy Parlow, who sat out her second straight game while nursing a back strain.  The Americans also played in the 5th place match at last year's Algarve Cup, losing to Norway 4-3 to finish sixth.

"Our team is very disappointed right now, but the perspective I have is that this is an extremely young U.S. team," added Heinrichs after a game in which she played 11 players between the ages of 17 and 25.  "We have had a dramatic change from the 1999 to the 2000 roster, and this group of players represents an even more radical change from the 2000 roster.  But we feel that this is the core of the 2003 World Cup Team and the good news is that we have a year and half to develop this group.  We are competing and battling and are without Cindy Parlow and without Mia Hamm, and those are two critical players for us in an area that we are struggling.  We missed them both in this tournament.  Give us a year and a half and I think the United States will be back in the tradition role of being in finals and finding ways to win the major tournaments."

In Group A, China earned a trip to the championship game with a 1-0 win over Denmark while Germany edged Finland, 2-0.  In Group C, Scotland defeated Wales 1-0 and Canada beat up on Portugal, 7-1.  Canada will play Finland for 7th place, Scotland will battle England for 9th place and Wales will face Portugal for 11th.

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants:      United States National Team vs. Norway National Team
Competition:     2002 Algarve Cup
Venue:     Municipal Stadium - Lagos, Portugal
Date:      March 5, 2002 - Kickoff 4:15 p.m. Local (11:15 a.m. ET)
Attendance:     300                            
Weather:      Cloudy, cool - 64 degrees

Scoring Summary:       

                     1st  / 2nd / Final
USA             1    /    1   /   2
NOR             2   /    1   /    3     
   
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Unassisted)        14th minute.
NOR - Hege Riise (Penalty Kick)                     23.
NOR - Dagny Mellgren (Unassisted)                29.
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Kristine Lilly)        59.
NOR - Solveig Gulbrandsen (Linda Ormen)    85.

Lineups:
USA - 1-LaKeysia Beene (18-Hope Solo, 84), 19-Danielle Slaton, 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Cat Reddick, 11-Julie Foudy - Capt., 10-Aly Wagner (2-Lorrie Fair, 78), 13-Kristine Lilly, 7-Jena Kluegel (21-Kylie Bivens, 46), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 20-Danielle Fotopoulos (6-Kelly Wilson, 46, Heather O'Reilly, 68), 8-Shannon MacMillan.

NOR - 1-Bente Nordby, 2-Brit Sandaune, 4-Anne Tonnessen, 15-Ane Stangeland, 5-Bente Kvitland, 6-Hege Riise-Capt., 7-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 8-Monica Knudsen (10-Unni Lehn, 46), 16-Trine Ronning (11-Linda Ormen, 68), 18-Anita Rapp (9-Lise Klaveness ,85), 14-Dagny Mellgren.

Statistical Summary:       

                           USA  /  NOR                    
Shots                 14    /  13 
Shots on Goal    9    /   7   
Saves                 4    /   6          
Corner Kicks   10   /   4      
Fouls                 7   /   16 
Offside             3    /     0  

Misconduct Summary:
USA - Danielle Fotopoulos (caution) 31st minute.

Officials:
Referee:                Craig Thomson (Scotland)
Asst. Referee:      Guy Beale (England)
Asst. Referee:      Allan Thurston (Scotland)

9th Algarve Cup International Women's Tournament
 
FINAL Algarve Cup Group Standings
Group A

Team            GP /  W  /   L  /  T   /  GF /  GA  / GD   / PTS
China             3    /   3   /  0  /   0   /  9    /   3     /  +6   /   9
Germany       3     /  2   /  1  /   0   /  7    /   4     /  +3    /   6
Denmark       3     /  1  /   2  /   0   /  2    /   4     /  -2    /   3
Finland          3     /  0   /  3  /   0   /  1    /   7     /  -6    /    0  

Friday, March 1             Sunday, March 3        Tuesday, March 5
Germany 3, Denmark 0  Denmark 2, Finland 0   China 1, Denmark 0
China 4, Finland 1         China 4, Germany 2     Germany 2, Finland 0

Group B
Team            GP /  W  /  L  /  T  /  GF  / GA  /  GD   / PTS

Norway          3    /   2  /  0  /   1  /  9    /    6    /   +3   /   7
Sweden        3     /   1  /  0  /   2  /  10 /    7    /   +3   /   5
USA              3     /   1  /  1   /  1  /  5    /   4    /   +1   /   4
England        3     /   0  /  3  /   0  /  3   /    9    /   -6    /  0

Friday, March 1          Sunday, March 3       Tuesday, March 5
USA 1, Sweden 1        Sweden 3, Norway 3   Sweden 6, England 3
Norway 3, England 1    USA 2, England 0        Norway 3, USA 2

Group C
Team            GP  W  /  L  /  T  /  GF / GA  / GD  /   PTS

Canada         3   /  3  /  0   /  0  /  14  /  1   /  +13  /  9
Scotland        3   /  2  /  1   /  0  /  3   /  4    /   -1    /   6
Wales            3   /  1  /  2   /  0  /  2   /  5    /   -3    /   3
Portugal        3    /  0  /  3   /  0  /  2   /  10  /   -8   /    0

Friday, March 1           Sunday, March 3         Tuesday, March 5
Canada 3, Scotland 0   Canada 4, Wales 1       Scotland 1, Wales 0
Wales 1, Portugal 0       Scotland 2, Portugal 1  Canada 7, Portugal 1

March 7                         Placement Games     Venue
Wales vs. Portugal        11th Place Match         Montochoro
Scotland vs. England    9th Place Match           Olhao
Canada vs. Finland      7th Place Match            Lagoa
USA vs. Denmark         5th Place Match           Montechoro
Sweden vs. Germany   3rd Place Match           Faro
China vs. Norway         Championship Match   Loule      

 


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