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U.S. Women Down England, 2-0, in Algarve Cup on Sunday


FERRIERAS, Portugal (Sunday, March 3, 2002) - Forward Shannon MacMillan scored in her second straight match and 19-year-old Kelly Wilson added the second goal in her first-ever game for the full U.S. Women's National Team as the USA earned a 2-0 victory over England in Group B at the Algarve Cup.

The USA and Norway will meet on Tuesday, March 5, with the winner advancing to the Algarve Cup Championship Game.  Norway and Sweden played to a wild 3-3 tie in the other Group B match.  The USA cannot advance to the Final with a tie against Norway, but a draw could put the Norway in the championship game, depending on the outcome of the Sweden-England match, also on Tuesday.  The USA and Norway currently sit tied atop Group B with four points each, and are also tied on goal difference at plus-2, but Norway has the advantage in the next tiebreaker, total goals scored, having scored six goals to the USA's three.  Sweden has two points from two draws, but could slip into the final if the USA and Norway tie, and the Swedes beat England by three or more goals.

Earning a shot at the championship game certainly wasn't easy for the Americans, who eventually wore down a young English side that came prepped for battle.  For what England lack in talent, it made up for in effort, as the USA failed to find the net in the first half.

"What's exciting about England is that have invested a lot in their women and you can see the difference," said U.S. head coach Heinrichs.  "You can tell these players have played together.  They set the ball and hit long balls with purpose and off they go.  They are running under the ball and making things happen and it's tough to defend against."

The U.S. team did serve numerous dangerous crosses from the right flank in front of the English net, but in a first half spent almost entirely on England's defensive side of the field, the USA could not turn offensive superiority into chances, getting only four good ones, three from MacMillan.

Heinrichs gave the start to midfielder Aly Wagner in a 3-4-3 formation and the Santa Clara University senior was magnificent.  In just the 8th minute, Wagner lifted ball over defense to MacMillan, who took a great touch to control, but struck her skidding shot wide left of goal.  In the 38th minute, MacMillan collected a pass about 10 yards above the penalty area on the left side and turned hard toward the middle, losing two defenders as she shifted gears, but her rocket shot swerved just wide right of the upper corner.  In the 43rd minute, MacMillan pounced on a rolling ball in the penalty area after a scramble, but launched her shot out of the small stadium from 16 yards out.

England's only chance came early as U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, at full extension, had to scoop a close-range shot outside the right post.  The USA almost took the lead in the final minute of the first half, but Wagner's header off a corner kick skipped off the top of the crossbar.

With captain Julie Foudy putting in 90 minutes of hard labor at defensive midfield, Wagner was the maestro in controlling tempo of the game and was at the fulcrum of many U.S. attacks, especially after the U.S. team finally caught a rhythm at the end of the match and kept England on its heels for the last 20 minutes.

The USA finally broke through in the 59th minute as Wagner played a perfect through ball that put MacMillan free behind defense.  The U.S. striker had plenty of time to settle herself before hammering her shot under England goalkeeper Leanne Hall and into the left corner from 15 yards out.

"I am very pleased with our 90 minutes in terms of our ossession," said Heinrichs.  "We got around the right, we got around the left and we got our backs, midfielders and forwards behind their defense.  We created chances and we turned England pretty much at will, but finishing is still a part of our game we need to improve."

England ran hard for 90 minutes, but their game deteriorated under the U.S. pressure in the second half as they served a steady diet of long balls, the majority of which were won strongly by U.S. backs Joy Fawcett, Cat Reddick and Danielle Slaton, who was replaced in the 60th minute by Kate Sobrero.

With 15 minutes left, Wilson, who came on at halftime for Danielle Fotopoulos, did what only a handful of players in U.S. history have done, scoring in her first game.  Once again, it was Wagner who sliced open the English defense with a pass of superior feeling and pace, springing Wilson on a breakaway.  The University of Texas freshman dribbled at the English goalkeeper, threw her a hip fake as she dribbled left, then slid to tuck the ball under Hall to make it 2-0.

"I was hoping to get into the game today, and if the opportunity came, I felt confident that I could contribute," said Wilson, one of the top forwards on the U.S. Under-19 National Team.  "Aly played me an awesome ball and all I had to do was beat the goalkeeper."

The U.S. team needed a third goal to nudge them ahead of Norway on goal difference, but despite several good chances, could not get another.  In the 82nd minute, Milbrett, who was a menace among the English defenders all match, got in footrace down left flank, but with a defender on her hip, rolled her shot across the face of the goal.

In the 84th minute, 17-year-old Heather O'Reilly, who played a solid 20 minutes after coming on for MacMillan, got behind defense in the right side of the penalty area, and had Milbrett open in the middle, but hesitated one second too many before the ball was tackled away.

"I'm thrilled about both Kelly Wilson and Heather O'Reilly," said Heinrichs.  "Kelly and Heather gave us fresh legs and really injected some spark into the attack.  I think our team looks at them like these young kids who play their roles, but also as kids that can play with us."

Heinrichs rested forward Cindy Parlow for the match as she was nursing a mild back strain, but the 5-11 striker should be ready to go against Norway.  Kylie Bivens played the entire second half at right midfield after coming on at halftime for Lorrie Fair, and distinguished herself with some rock hard play, earning a yellow card in stoppage time.

"Our team is still in its infancy," added Heinrichs.  "We have a year and half to develop this core of players and that's a lot of time. But the thing I love about this group that that they recognize that nothing comes easy. This was a good game to build and I hope we play our best game of the tournament against Norway."

In Group A, China placed itself in prime position for a berth in the final with a convincing 4-2 victory over Germany.  Denmark defeated Finland, 2-0, in the other Group A match.  Canada beat up on another Group C opponent, pounding Wales, 4-1, while Scotland picked up its first Algarve Cup win, over host Portugal, 2-1.

The USA has lost three straight games to Norway since winning 2-0 in the first round of the 2000 Olympics and Tuesday match promises to be another in the long line of epic battles between the two women's soccer super powers.

"We're psyched to play Norway again," said MacMillan, who scored her 41st international goal.  "We always know that the game will push both teams to their highest levels.  We just have to take care of our bodies tomorrow, get as much rest as possible and get ready to go to war for 90 minutes."

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants:    United States National Team vs. England National Team
Competition:    2002 Algarve Cup
Venue:              Ferreiras Stadium - Ferreiras, Portugal
Date:                March 3, 2002 - Kickoff 4:15 p.m. Local (11:15 a.m. ET)
Attendance:     500
Weather:          Cloudy, windy -- 65 degrees

Scoring Summary:        1st   2nd    Final
        USA                           0       2          2
        ENG                           0       0          0

USA - Shannon MacMillan (Aly Wagner)    59th minute.
USA - Kelly Wilson (Aly Wagner)                 75.

Lineups:
USA - 18-Hope Solo, 19-Danielle Slaton (15-Kate Sobrero, 60), 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Cat Reddick, 11-Julie Foudy - Capt., 10-Aly Wagner, 13-Kristine Lilly, 2-Lorrie Fair (21-Kylie Bivens, 46), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett (17-Devvyn Hawkins, 88), 20-Danielle Fotopoulos (6-Kelly Wilson, 46), 8-Shannon MacMillan (9-Heather O'Reilly, 70).

ENG - 1-Rachel Brown (22-Leane Hall, 46), 2-Rachel McArthur (6-Mary Phillip, 86), 3-Julie Fletcher (11-Rachel Unitt, 69), 12-Faye White, 14-Katie Chapman, 8-Vicky Exley (4-Carly Hunt, 86), 15-Karen Burke, 18-Fara Williams (17-Samantha Britton, 64), 19-Rachel Yankey, 10-Angela Banks, 20-Karen Walker - Capt.

Statistical Summary:        USA    ENG
Shots                                     14          5
Shots on Goal                         6          1
Saves                                      1          3
Corner Kicks                        14          4
Fouls                                        9          9
Offside                                     4          2

Misconduct Summary:
ENG - Rachel Unitt (caution)    71st minute.
USA - Kylie Bivens (caution)    92+

Officials:
Referee:                Jill Proctor (Canada)
Asst. Referee:      Hanne Brund (Denmark)
Asst. Referee:      Jose Lamy (Portugal)

9th Algarve Cup International Women's Tournament

Algarve Cup Group Standings
Group A
Team            GP     W     L     T   GF  GA    GD    PTS
China               2       2     0     0      8     3       +5       6
Germany         2       1     1     0      5      4       +1       3
Denmark         2       1     1     0      2      3       -1        3
Finland            2       0     2     0      1      6       -5        0

Friday, March 1                 Sunday, March 3                Tuesday, March 5
Germany 3, Denmark 0    Denmark 2, Finland 0        Denmark vs. China
China 4, Finland 1          C  hina 4, Germany 2            Finland vs. Germany

Group B
Team            GP      W     L    T    GF  GA    GD     PTS
Norway            2       1     0     1      6     4       +2        4
USA                 2       1     0     1      3     1       +2        4
Sweden           2       0     0     2      4     4         0        2
England           2       0     2     0      1      5       -4        0

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

Group C
Team            GP     W     L     T     GF  GA     GD    PTS
Canada           2       2     0     0       7      1       +6        6
Wales              2       1     1     0       2      4        -2        3
Scotland          2       1     1     0       2      4        -2        3
Portugal           2       0     2     0       1      3       - 2        0

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

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