ALBUFEIRA, Portugal (Thursday, March 7, 2002) - Forward Shannon MacMillan continued her torrid scoring pace, notching her second career hat trick to lead the U.S. Women's National Team to a 3-2 victory over Denmark in the 5th place match of the 9th Algarve Cup.
MacMillan scored seven of the USA's eight goals in the tournament, upping her 2002 total to 10 and her career international goals to 45. She has now scored in five consecutive matches for the USA, dating back to the game vs. China on Jan. 27. Her two goals in a five-minute span in the first half and her one score in the second kept the Americans just ahead of a skillful and tough Danish team who pulled to within a goal twice.
The game was played on a postage stamp-sized field, measuring 64 by 106 yards, which made space tough to come by for both teams, but also provided end-to-end action for the entire match. While 5th place was not the finish that the U.S. wanted, it was a fine ending to the tournament as the American women attacked well all game.
"We saw a lot of good things out there," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "It was a very, very small field and that doesn't favor the U.S. team. But the bright spots were that Joy Fawcett is stepping up her leadership for us and we were able to play some younger player and invest in their development. We were able to play some players to help us evaluate them for the long term and find out which ones will be able to help us in 2003 and which ones are continuing to grow."
The USA withstood a shaky start that saw U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo save a breakaway from Merete Pedersen in just the third minute before Lene Jensen hit the crossbar a minute later.
Forward Kelly Wilson, a freshman at the University of Texas, got her first career start for the full National Team and played a solid 90 minutes, creating MacMillan's first goal in the 29th minute. Wilson sent a high cross from deep on left flank. Demark goalkeeper Tine Cederkvist misjudged the ball a bit and MacMillan, making hard run at far post, smacked a first-time volley into right corner with the inside of her right foot, grazing the right post on the way in.
MacMillan made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute, courtesy of a fine pass from Danielle Fotopoulos, who ran onto long ball and touched it perfectly over defense into the right side of the penalty area. MacMillan let the ball come to a roll finished clinically, striking a first-time bullet into the lower left corner at the far post.
The USA was aided by the booming punts of Solo, which kept Denmark on its heels, but on more than one occasion sent kicks that ended with a bounce into the arms of the opposing goalkeeper.
Firmly in control of the match, the USA let Denmark back into the game less than two minutes into the second half. Halftime substitute Janne Madsen crossed from the right side to Lene Jensen, who was slashing through the middle and lifted a header over Solo who had taken a step towards the cross.
With new life, the Danes battled for an equalizer, but it was MacMillan who once again gave the Americans a two-goal cushion, this time in the 64th minute as a third U.S. player notched an assist. In a wild sequence, MacMillan's corner kick from the left side was headed back out to her on the flank. She spun a high cross into the middle that bounced around before the U.S. latched onto the ball, with Devvyn Hawkins feeding a quick pass to Kylie Bivens in the right side of the penalty area. Bivens then bent another high cross to the opposite post, where MacMillan jumped over a defender to nod her header into the right corner.
"Without Parlow and Hamm, it is difficult for us to score and Mac (Shannon MacMillan) stepped up to score seven goals in the tournament," added Heinrichs. "That boosts her confidence and she is reaching a new level for us where she is scoring, making space for us, holding possession and creating chances."
The final 20 minutes featured chances from both teams. Merete Pedersen volleyed past the right post from 22 yards out after a counter attack. In the 72nd minute, MacMillan sent a screaming corner kick to the near post where it was flicked on by Joy Fawcett and into the hand of a Danish defender, but there was no call. On the ensuning corner kick, MacMillan hit the top of the crossbar with her cross.
Denmark pulled a goal back again in the 74th minute as captain Lene Terp sliced through the U.S. defense on a corner kick to hammer home a beautiful header into the upper left corner from six yards out, but Denmark would not get another.
The USA got a break in the 84th minute after a Denmark attack put the USA under pressure and ball squirted out across the top of the penalty area. A Bivens slide got a bit of the ball and a lot of the player just inside the penalty box, but the referee let the play go on. One minute later, 17-year-old Heather O'Reilly, who came on for Fotopoulos in the 59th minute, beat a player in the right side of the penalty area, but hammered her shot into the side netting. In the 85th minute, Kate Sobero sent a wonderful pass over the defense on the left flank to MacMillan, who cut her cross back to Wagner, who dummied the ball for Lorrie Fair, but the U.S. midfielder shot wide right.
The ball winning of Fair, and especially Hawkins, who was dominant in the air, was key to the USA's ability to salt away the match with the one goal lead. Hawkins made her first start of the tournament and went 90 minutes.
Sobrero started in the center of the defense in the tournament for the first time, and displayed her usual rock solid play next to Fawcett, who captained the team. Jena Kluegel also played a tough 90 minutes at left back. Midfielder Aly Wagner was once again the USA's creative force, as she played 90 minutes for the second time in the tournament.
Heinrichs gave the day off to Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett, Julie Foudy and Cindy Parlow, who together have 726 caps for the USA, but the performances of Under-19 National Team stalwarts O'Reilly and Wilson bode well for the future.
With the hat trick, MacMillan moved past Tisha Venturini into seventh place on the all-time U.S. scoring list. She is one goal short of Cindy Parlow, who is in 6th place. Heading into tonight's championship game between China and Norway, two Chinese players have four goals, but unless they can equal MacMillan's feat, she will win the tournament's Top Scorer award.
"The most important thing is that individuals get playing time and experience and grow," said Heinrichs. "Our Norway loss really exposed a lot of our weaknesses, and they don't get exposed as much back in the WUSA, or playing for their college team or their U-21 team or when we are playing a team that isn't in the top-5 in the world as we don't get stretched as much. We did a lot of self-evaluation and players know where they stand and what they need to work on over the next two to three months. The big picture is that it's more important to build on these erformances and how to play out of multiple formations against different conditions to develop players and the team over the long haul."
The 3rd place game was a rematch of the 2001 European Women's Final, but this time Sweden came out on top, defeating Germany, 2-1, as Hanna Ljunberg and Malin Andersson scored for their country. It was the first win by the Swedes over the Germans since 1995. After Canada had defeated its three Group C opponents by a 14-2 margin, Finland, the last place team in Group A, gave the young Canadians a reminder of the strength of European women's soccer, winning 3-0 to take 7th place. England renewed an old rivalry with Scotland, and came out on top, 4-1, to take 9th place. Host Portugal got a bit of redemption, winning its first match of the tournament, 4-0, over Wales to take 11th place.
The U.S. women now return home to their WUSA training camps and will not be together again until the end of April, when they will regroup in San Jose, Calif. to face Finland on April 27 at Spartan Stadium as part of a doubleheader with the WUSA champion CyberRays.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Denmark
Competition: 2002 Algarve Cup
Venue: Montechoro Training Complex - Albufeira, Portugal
Date: March 7, 2002 - Kickoff 3 p.m. Local (10 a.m. ET)
Weather: Sunny, breezy, beautiful - 76 degrees
1st / 2nd / Final
USA 2 / 1 / 3
DEN 0 / 2 / 2
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Kelly Wilson) 29th minute.
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Danielle Fotopoulos) 33.
DEN - Lene Jensen (Janne Madsen) 47.
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Kylie Bivens) 64.
DEN - Lene Terp (Signe Andersen) 74.
USA -18-Hope Solo, 3-Thori Staples (21-Kylie Bivens, 46), 14-Joy Fawcett, 15-Kate Sobrero, 7-Jena Kluegel, 10-Aly Wagner, 2-Lorrie Fair, 17-Devvyn Hawkins, 6-Kelly Wilson, 20-Danielle Fotopoulos (9-Heather O'Reilly, 59), 8-Shannon MacMillan.
DEN - 16-Tine Cederkvist, 3-Gitte Andersen (2-, 67), 4-Lene Terp-Capt., 5-Katrine Pedersen, 7-Cathrine Paaske Sorensen, 6-Louise Hansen (20-Signe Andersen, 53), 8-Christina Bonde (11-Janne Madsen, 46), 13-Sandra Jorgensen, Merete Pedersen, 10-Julie Rydahl Bukh (18-, 57), 12-Lene Jensen.
Statistical Summary: USA / DEN
Shots 15 / 11
Shots on Goal 6 / 6
Saves 3 / 3
Corner Kicks 9 / 3
Fouls 12 / 11
Offside 5 / 4
USA - Thori Bryan (caution) 21st minute.
DEN - Katrine Pedersen (caution) 29.
Referee: Vibeke Karlsen (Norway)
Asst. Referee: Kim Chalmers (Canada)
Asst. Referee: Allan Thurston (Scotland)
March 7 Placement Games Venue
Portugal 4, Wales 0 11th Place Match Montochoro
England 4, Scotland 1 9th Place Match Olhao
Finland 3, Canada 0 7th Place Match Lagoa
USA 3, Denmark 2 5th Place Match Montechoro
Sweden 2, Germany 1 3rd Place Match Faro
China vs. Norway Championship Match Loule