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USA Defeats Denmark, 2-0, to Claim 2007 Algarve Cup Title

VILA REAL de SAN ANTONIO, Portugal (March 14, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got an early goal from captain Kristine Lilly and a second-half blast from midfielder Carli Lloyd on the way to a dominating 2-0 victory over Denmark to win the championship of the 2007 Algarve Cup.

The tournament marked a breakout performance for Lloyd, who came into the competition having scored just once in her previous 24 international appearances. Lloyd is the third U.S. player to score in all four Algarve Cup games, joining Shannon MacMillan (2002) and Christie Welsh (2005), and walked away with the tournament’s Top Scorer and MVP awards.

Lloyd’s fourth goal of the tournament may have been the most spectacular. With the USA leading 1-0 on a 12th minute goal from Lilly, Lloyd doubled the margin six minutes into the second half. She latched onto a loose ball 30 yards from the net, turned toward goal and hit a left-footed screamer from 24 yards out. The ball hit the bottom of the crossbar so hard that it bounced down over the goal line and then up into the roof of the net. Denmark goalkeeper Heidi Johansen made a lunge for the shot, but had no chance, and could only shake her head in disbelief as she sat crumpled on the turf.

Lloyd becomes the third U.S. player to win the MVP award at the Algarve Cup, joining Shannon Boxx (twice) and Tiffeny Milbrett.

The win increased the U.S. women’s unbeaten streak to 39 matches, 38 of them under head coach Greg Ryan, who has yet to lose a match in regulation time in two years at the helm. It was the USA’s fifth Algarve Cup title in 12 appearances at this tournament, which has developed into one of the top women’s international competitions in the world. The five titles is the most for any country, moving the American women out of a tie with Norway, which has won the tournament four times in 14 appearances. The USA also won the Algarve Cup in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005, before falling in penalty kicks to Germany last year.

The USA’s first goal came courtesy of a perfect through ball from Abby Wambach. The U.S. striker collected a ball with her back to the goal at the bottom of the center circle on the USA's side of the field, then turned around a Danish defender before putting a perfect chip over the defense to a streaking Lilly, who had gotten a step on Mia Olsen. Johansen came charging out of her goal, but Lilly deftly lifted the ball over the Danish ‘keeper her with her left instep, depositing the shot into the left side of the net from 24 yards out. It was the 119th goal of her brilliant career and second of the Algarve Cup.

After scoring the first goal, Lilly created the USA’s second best chance of the first half as she ran onto a wonderful 50-yard weak-side pass from Cat Whitehill on the left wing, then twisted Olsen inside-out as she ran to the end line before sending a perfectly chipped service to the far post. Wambach had the kind of look at goal that she rarely misses, but uncharacteristically sent her open header just past the right post.

While both teams seemed to have tired legs as they were playing their fourth match in eight days, the USA dominated the game, out-shooting Denmark, 19-4. The USA had eight corner kicks to none for the Danes.

Denmark’s only dangerous scoring chance of the game came after 22 minutes when midfielder Anne Dot Eggers Nielsen raced into the penalty box on the left side and cracked a left-footed shot across the face of the goal. U.S. ‘keeper Hope Solo, who was super-solid during the match patrolling the air in her penalty box, came up with the one big save she was called upon to make, palming the ball away with a dive to her left.

The U.S. defense of right back Heather Mitts, center backs Christie Rampone and Whitehill, and left back Stephanie Lopez, never let the Danish attack get going. Mitts in particular had an excellent match shutting down talented winger Joanna Rasmussen. The tired Danes were reduced to sending long balls over the top for much of the match, often leaving powerful center forward Maiken Pape running by herself, and she had no chance against the organized U.S. backline.

Forward Lindsay Tarpley came on for Natasha Kai at halftime and immediately gave the U.S. some attacking spark. Tarpley finished a rebound off a Lloyd header in the 57th minute, but was flagged for offside. Replays showed Tarpley was in an onside position when Lloyd’s header smacked off the hands of Johansen.

Ryan’s second change at the half brought Boxx on for Leslie Osborne in the midfield. Boxx, who was playing her first games back for the national team after recovering from ACL surgery, played in the final three matches and is no doubt on her way to regaining the form that saw her finish third in the voting for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2005.

In the match for third place, Sweden defeated France, 3-1. Norway defeated Finland, 2-0, for fifth place while Italy shocked Germany, 1-0, for seventh. The Germans, who came into the tournament topping FIFA’s world rankings, lost three games at the tournament. In another surprise, Iceland thrashed China, 4-1, for ninth place. The 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup hosts lost all four matches at this year’s Algarve Cup. In the match for eleventh place, Ireland and Portugal drew, 0-0, through regulation and overtime before the Irish won, 5-4, on penalty kicks.

The U.S. team now returns home and has two weeks off before re-grouping on April 2 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to begin a four-month Residency Training Camp leading into the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The U.S. will open its 2007 domestic schedule vs. Mexico (tickets) on April 14 in Foxborough, Mass., in a double header with the New England Revolution. The schedule continues with a match against Canada (tickets) on May 12 in Frisco, Texas. The USA will wear pink uniforms in that match to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness. The USA will then embark on a six-game 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Send-Off Series, starting against China (tickets) on June 16 in Cleveland and continues against Brazil (tickets) on June 23 in East Rutherford, N.J. in a re-match of the 2004 Olympic gold medal game.

Visit the Algarve Cup competitions page for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the USA’s 2007 Algarve Cup championship.


Match-up: USA vs. Denmark
Competition: 2007 Algarve Cup Championship Game
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Vila Real de San Antonio, Portugal
Date: March 14, 2007; Kickoff – 4:30 p.m. local / 12:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 1,000
Weather: Clear, breezy – 72 degrees

Scoring Summary
            1      2     F

USA     1     1     2
DEN     0     0     0

USA – Kristine Lilly (Abby Wambach) 12th minute.
USA – Carli Lloyd (unassisted) 51.

USA - 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Whitehill, 3-Christie Rampone, 14-Stephanie Lopez; 12-Leslie Osborne (7-Shannon Boxx, 46), 17-Lori Chalupny (16-Angela Hucles, 85), 11-Carli Lloyd (10-Aly Wagner, 83); 6-Natasha Kai (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 46), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 8-Tina Ellertson, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 19-Marci Jobson, 22-India Trotter.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

DEN - 1-Heidi Johansen; 2-Mia Olsen, 4-Gitte Andersen - Capt, 6-Bettina Hansen (5-Mette Jensen, 81), 12-Christina Orntoft; 10-Anne Dot Eggers Nielsen, 15-Ditte Larsen (11-Merete Pedersen, 61), 18-Janne Madsen; 8-Julie Bukh, 9-Maiken Pape, 13-Johanna Rasmussen (19-Stine Dimun, 71).
Subs not used: 3-Katrine Pedersen, 7-Cathrine Sørensen, 14-Dorte Jensen, 16-Tine Cederkvist, 17-Nanna Johansen, 20-Line Hansen
Head Coach: Kenneth Heiner-Möller

Statistical Summary:
Shots: 19 / 4
Shots on Goal: 10 / 3
Saves: 3 / 6
Corner Kicks: 8 / 0
Fouls: 11 / 9
Offside: 4 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Natasha Kai (caution) 37th minute.
DEN – Mia Olsen (caution) 39.

Referee: Pannipar Kamnueng (THA)
Asst. Referee: Hongjuan Liu (CHN)
Asst. Referee: Hongjue Fu (CHN)
4th Official: Bentla D’coth (IND)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Kristine Lilly

2007 Algarve Cup Placement Matches
March 14                         Placement Match      Venue
Ireland 0, Portugal 0*   11th Place                  Ferreiras
Iceland 4, China 1         9th Place                   Montechoro
Italy 1, Germany 0          7th Place                   Olhao
Norway 2, Finland 0      5th Place                   Portimao
Sweden 3, France 1      3rd Place                  VR de SA
USA 2, Denmark 0        Championship        VR de SA

* Ireland wins 5-4 on penalty kicks

2007 Algarve Cup Final Standings
1st USA
2nd Denmark
3rd Sweden
4th France
5th Norway
6th Finland
7th Italy
8th Germany
9th Iceland
10th China
11th Ireland
12th Portugal

2007 Algarve Cup Awards
Best Player: Carli Lloyd (USA)
Top Scorer: Carli Lloyd (USA)

Best Goalkeeper: Caroline Jonsson (SWE)
Fair Play Award: Finland


On the match:
“We’re very happy to win this tournament again and build confidence for our young team. These were also the first games (of 2007) for some of our top players so this was a good beginning for us. In terms of the game, I think we dominated the play. We had most of the chances and could have scored more goals than we did, and I think maybe one of those goals they called offside was a good goal. I was very happy with our team’s performance.”

On the match:
“I thought we started out very, very well, got the early goal and then I thought we flattened out a little bit in the first half. (Denmark) made some adjustments in their tactics and caused us some problems, getting their wingbacks up the field. But in the second half I was really happy. I thought we settled down more. Shannon coming on really settled us. We had more of the ball, more possession, and then plenty of chances to score. And then Carli put a stamp on the game with that kind of goal.”

On looking forward to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup:
“There are more teams in this World Cup who can go into the final four. We’re very confident that we can go all the way in the tournament with this young team, but now you have to go there and do it. Talking about it does nothing for us. This is a team that will go give everything to win the next World Cup.”

On the Algarve Cup tournament:
“We look at this as a pre-season. We were missing five of our best players when we went to China, so this is the first time we’ve all been together. I think the improvement of the team over the course of four games was fantastic, just getting into a rhythm together again.”

On Shannon Boxx returning to the team from injury:
“Getting Boxxy back out on the field was great. She helped us settle down in the second half today.”

On the performances of the young players:
“The performance of the young players, being led by Abby, Lilly, Boxx and Christie back there, was awesome. Carli Lloyd just had a wonderful tournament, a breakout tournament for her, and we’re just very happy and proud for her.”

On the USA’s mixture of youth and experience:
“I think that’s the key. We’ve got great leadership, composure and confidence that comes with Lilly, Abby, Christie, Kate and Shannon, and we have this energy on the field. The old guys are providing it too, but the young guys are just so enthusiastic and excited to be there. I think you see there is so much energy in our game right now and a jump in our step. It’s a lot of fun to coach, I can tell you that.”

On the tournament:
“I thought as a team, we came together and played great. We’re all flowing and all 20 people who came on this trip did a fantastic job.”

On her breakout tournament:
“I think the biggest thing is my confidence going out onto the field, having the support of all the coaches and the players. It’s fantastic when you know they are behind you and it’s easier to get the job done. It’s been a fantastic tournament for all of us.”

On her four goals at the 2007 Algarve Cup:
“It’s exciting. These are a lot of memories I’ll never forget.”

On where she goes from here:
“I’m just looking forward to the future. We’ve got domestic games coming up and I have hopes to make the World Cup team and go from there.”

On the performance of Carli Lloyd:
“She did score four goals, but I think the four goals are coming off great defense that she’s been providing. She’s been working hard on her defensive shape and shooting so I think they both paid off in this tournament. She gave us a huge lift and it’s just the start for her. I’m extremely proud of her contribution, both on the defensive and attacking sides.”

On the match:
“It wasn’t the most exciting game, but I think we created some good chances and the team fought through it. That’s a credit to them. Denmark was just as tired too, but I think we pushed a little bit more, battled a little bit more and had the run of play a little bit more.”

On what the tournament win does for the team’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup preparations:
“This is a great tournament for us. Coming off the Four Nations Tournament, winning without five players and now the five players are back – we’re still missing Kate (Markgraf) – it’s great to come off a big win at this tournament. It gives us confidence, and that’s what we need right now, confidence going into training for the next four or five months to get ready for the World Cup.”

On her battle with Denmark winger Joanna Rasmussen:
“I knew I was going to go up against her. I’ve played against her a bunch of times. It’s always a good challenge for me. I know she’s pretty good with her left foot. Hope did a nice job of talking to me and trying to make sure that whenever we had a one-v-one situation, I just tried force her outside and hopefully use my speed to my advantage and make sure she didn’t have many chances.”

On the play of the backline at the Algarve Cup:
“We did really well. I felt there was a lot of cohesion back there, no matter who was playing in the back. Christie Rampone stepped into the center, Cat did awesome and Lopez obviously had a very good tournament. I just think the further along we get this year, the more we are learning to play together and play well as a team. It’s exciting going forward.”

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