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U.S. Women Defeat Finland, 3-0, at Algarve Cup


GUIA, Portugal (March 11, 2005) - The U.S. Women's National Team put together a quality game in difficult conditions to defeat Finland, 3-0, in its second match of the 2005 Algarve Cup.  Forward Christie Welsh scored two first-half goals and Abby Wambach added a third in the 52nd minute as the Americans put themselves in position to make the championship game with a win or tie against Denmark in their final Group B match on Sunday.

In the other Group B match, France defeated Denmark, 2-1, putting the USA atop the group with six points.  France and Denmark have three points each while Finland sits at the bottom of the group with zero.

Playing on the smallest field to host a U.S. Women's National Team game in recent memory, the U.S. navigated the bumpy 64-yard by 108-yard pitch extremely well, putting together some long stretches of quality possession in both halves.

The USA got a valuable early goal that put the pressure on the Finns to come out of their half a bit more despite their 4-5-1 formation.  The goal came in just the eighth minute off a long throw-in from the right sideline of the narrow field.  Reddick's throw flew to Wambach who won the ball with her head at the corner of the six-yard box and nodded it further into the middle.  Finnish goalkeeper Satu Kunnas mishandled the bouncing ball and Welsh pounced on the chance to blast the ball home from six yards out into the roof of the net.

In the 13th minute, Welsh had a chance for another goal during a wild sequence.  After some good U.S. possession released Kristine Lilly down the left flank, her hard cross sailed to the far post where Terhi Uusiluomalahti tried to head it over the end line for a corner kick, but instead the defender headed it off the right goalpost.  The ball bounced right to Welsh, who had an open net, albeit from a tough angle, and struck her looping shot back off the inside of the left post and into the arms of Kunnas.

Welsh scored the USA's second goal four minutes before halftime, but credit 20-year-old Heather O'Reilly for creating it.  The speedy forward ran onto a bouncing ball down the right wing, settling it well before blowing by a defender.  She then cut a perfect cross back on the ground into the middle for Welsh to meet first-time with her right foot, powering it into the net under Kunnas and into the lower left corner from 12 yards.

It was just the second career full National Team start for O'Reilly, who scored and broke her ankle just seconds into her first-ever start against Ireland back in June of 2003 as the Irish goalkeeper crashed into her.

The match also marked the first career caps at the senior level for 18-year-old forward Amy Rodriguez, who came on at halftime, and 22-year-old defender Lindsey Huie, who played the final 15 minutes at left back.

After playing all 90 minutes at left back against France in the first match of the tournament, Lori Chalupny showed her versatility by starting and playing the first half at right midfield in the USA's 3-4-3 formation before switching to left back in the second half as the Americans moved to a 4-3-3.

Rodriguez, a halftime substitute, played a part in the third goal, getting fouled at midfield as a Finnish defender climbed over her back.  Reddick took the free kick and sent a perfect long service to the far post and right onto the head of Wambach, who froze Kunnas on her line with a world-class finish, sending the ball back across the net into the right corner while falling away from the goal.

It was Wambach's 46th career international goal, moving her past Julie Foudy into sole possession of 8th place on the all-time U.S. scoring chart.

Finland took just eight shots in the match, and didn't fire their first until the 36th minute, but three were extremely dangerous and drew great saves from Solo.  Near the end of the firs half, Finnish star Anne Makinen did well to slip two tackles in the midfield before cracking a 25-yarder that Solo had to push over the crossbar for a corner kick.

In the final 10 minutes, Solo made two more quality saves, smothering hard shots at the right corner from Makinen and Minna Mustonen to earn her first shutout for the National Team since a 2-0 victory over England at the 2002 Algarve Cup.  It was also Solo's first start for the USA since October of 2002.

Finland's other dangerous chance came on one of the rare occasions the U.S. team did not win a long service, letting it drop in midfield.  The ball was quickly played through to Laura Kalmari, but her toe-poke from the top of the penalty area past the charging Solo bounced wide right of the goal.   

The USA was patient with its possession on the small field for the entire match and had several great chances to add to its lead.  In the 68th minute, halftime substitution Aly Wagner put Lilly behind the defense on a breakaway.  The U.S. captain rounded the 'keeper to her right before being bundled down by a retreating defender and the goalkeeper, but got no call.

In the 77th minute, Lilly returned the favor, playing Wagner into the right side of the box.  She hit a perfect cross on the ground to the far post that somehow eluded the crashing Wambach, slipping through the forward's legs as a defender slid at her feet.

U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan used all his six allowed subs in the second half, also giving time to midfielders Lindsay Tarpley and Lorrie Fair and forward Kelly Wilson, who earned her first cap with the full National Team since the 2002 Algarve Cup.

The U.S. team will face Denmark on Sunday, March 13, for the group title and a place in the championship game against Germany, which already clinched Group A with one match left to play.  Fans can follow the USA's match online at 8:45 a.m. ET on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.

Denmark tied and defeated the USA during the "Fan Celebration Tour" last November, handing the U.S. women one of only two losses all year in 2004.  Those results combined with a berth in the title game at stake should make for an extremely hard-fought match.  A Denmark win would likely put them in the championship game.  Against France, Denmark scored what looked like the winning goal with just minutes to play, only to see it waved off for offside.  France's defensive leader Corinne Diacre then hit the deciding goal in the final minute of the game, blasting a left-footed shot off the hand of Danish goalkeeper Tine Cederkvist and into the upper-left corner.

In Group A, Germany clinched their spot in the title game and sent a message to the rest of their continent with the European Women's Championships coming up this summer by pounding Norway, 4-0.  In the other match, Sweden rebounded from its loss to Germany with a 2-0 win over China. In Group C, Mexico shutout Northern Ireland, who has yet to score a goal, 2-0, and England recorded their second straight 4-0 win, this time over host Portugal.  England will meet Mexico on the final Match Day for the Group C title.

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up:       USA vs. Finland
Competition:  2005 Algarve Cup - Group B
Venue:           Complexo Desportivo Arsenio Catuna; Guia, Portugal
Date:             March 11, 2005; Kickoff - 1:45 p.m. Local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Attendance:   250
Weather:       Sunny, breezy - 72 degrees

Scoring Summary:
              1    2     F
USA      2    1     3
FIN       0    0     0

USA - Christie Welsh (Abby Wambach)            8th minute.
USA -- Christie Welsh (Heather O'Reilly)          41.
USA - Abby Wambach (Cat Reddick)              52.

Lineups:
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Markgraf; 11-Lori Chalupny (17-Lindsey Huie 75), 7-Shannon Boxx (3-Lorrie Fair, 78), 8-Angela Hucles (10-Aly Wagner, 46), 13-Kristine Lilly-Capt. (16-Kelly Wilson, 81); 19-Christie Welsh (12-Amy Rodriguez, 46), 20-Abby Wambach, 9-Heather O'Reilly (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 46).
Subs not used: 1-Nicole Barnhart, 6-Stephanie Lopez, 14-Jill Oakes.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

FIN: 1-Satu Kunnas; 2-Petra Vaelma, 4-Sanna Valkonen-Capt., 6-Eveliina Sarapää, 16-Terhi Uusiluomalahti; 3-Jessica Julin, 7-Anne Mäkinen (15-Sanna Malaska, 81), 10-Anna-Kaisa Rantanen (14-Heidi Ahonen, 73), 8-Minna Mustonen; 9-Laura Kalmari, 18-Sanna Tolonen (11-Heidi Lindstron, 59).
Subs not used: 5-Tiina Salmen, 12-Virva Junkkari, 13-Veera Vartiainen, 17-Daniela Tjeder
Head Coach: Michael Kald

Statistical Summary:      
                               USA     FIN
Shots:                       11         8
Shots on Goal:           6          4
Saves:                       4          4
Corner Kicks:           6          5
Fouls:                        6          8
Offside:                     4          3

Misconduct Summary:  None.

Officials:
Referee: Tammy Ogston (Australia)
Assistant Referee: Susanne Borg (Sweden)
Assistant Referee: Hege Steinlund (Norway)

2005 Algarve Cup Standings
Group A
Team   W   L   T   PTS   GF  GA  GD
GER     2   0    0     6       6     1     +5
SWE    1   1    0     3       3     2     +1
NOR    1   1    0    3       2      5     -3
CHN    0   2    0    0       1      4     -3

March 9
Norway 2, China 1
Germany 2, Sweden 1

March 11

Sweden 2, China 0
Germany 4, Norway 0

March 13
China PR v Germany    4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Sweden v Norway       4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

Group B
Team   W   L   T   PTS  GF  GA  GD
USA    2    0    0     6      4     0    +4
DEN    1    1    0     3      5     3    +2
FRA    1    1    0     3      2     2      0
FIN      0    2   0     0      1     7     -6

March 9
Denmark 4, Finland 1
USA 1, France 0

March 11
USA 3, Finland 0
France 2, Denmark 1

March 13
USA v Denmark 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Finland v France 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET

Group C
Team  W   L   T   PTS  GF  GA  GD
ENG   2    0    0    6       8     0    +8
MEX  2    0     0   6       4      1    +3
POR   0    2     0   0       1      6    -5
NIR    0    2     0   0       0      6    -6

March 9
England 4, Northern Ireland 0
Mexico 2, Portugal 1

March 11
Mexico 2, Northern Ireland 0
England 4, Portugal 0

March 13
England v Mexico
Northern Ireland v Portugal

March 15
Match for place 11th and 12th      10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 9th and 10th        10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 7th and 8th          10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 5th and 6th          3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Match for place 3rd and 4th         5:30 p.m. local / 12:30 p.m. ET
Championship                              8:15 p.m. local / 3:15 p.m. ET

U.S. Quote Sheet:

U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan on the match:
"It was a game where we got the goals and we were able to get a lot of young players some experience in international competition.  Today was a great team day. You play well, you win and you also get to play a lot of your young players and rest some of your veterans.  Any minutes off we can get for Boxx and Lilly will help in the next two games in the tournament and resting Aly (Wagner) and (Lindsay) Tarpley for a half as well means they will be fresher for the Denmark game."

Ryan on the young players:
"For the young players, it's a matter of getting their feet wet and getting comfortable out there and that's not a short process."

U.S. forward Abby Wambach on the win:
"To come out and beat this team by three goals was an accomplishment for us.  Considering all the newness to this team; new players and a new coach, we are playing fantastic in this tournament."

Wamach on the match:
"The dimensions and the field conditions were tough.  Playing on a small field against a team that can pack it in at the back and play very defensively, it's difficult to get goals in the back of the net so we were fortunate to get three."

Wambach on the match and the integration of young players:
"We thought they would come out playing a defensive style game.  (Anne) Makinen played well for them, but we have players that have been playing together for so long and our youth programs are so good that we have young players that can come in and make a difference.  No matter what players we have on the field, the U.S. will play to win every single game.  That's the mentality and tradition of this team."

Wambach on carrying on the tradition of the U.S. team:
"Being that there is a little more pressure on some of our shoulders after Julie and Mia retiring, we as a team have to come out and show that we are still a team that can contend for championships."

Wambach on scoring her first goal of the year:

"It felt good.  I needed to get that monkey off my back. Granted, it's just the second game (of the year), but as a finisher, it's my job to score goals and when I don't do that, I don't feel like I am doing my job.  Now I can just focus on playing my game."

Eighteen-year-old Amy Rodriguez on her first cap:

"I was nervous.  It's my first cap, but once you get out there, after the first five or 10 minutes you get comfortable and get used to it and it's just like any other soccer game.  Except different, totally different."

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