FERREIRAS, Portugal (March 9, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team produced many chances but few goals in a 1-0 win over Finland on the second match day of the 2007 Algarve Cup, doing enough to earn the all-important three points and will face Sweden on March 12 in its final Group B match for a spot in the championship game.
The USA’s third and last Group B match will take place on Monday in Vila Real de San Antonio and the Americans need a win to make the title game. The match will kickoff at 8 p.m. local time / 4 p.m. ET and fans can follow all the action in this crucial contest on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
Sweden pulled out a 1-0 victory over China on a 90th minute goal in the other Group B match and is tied with the USA for the group lead with six points a piece, but Sweden is ahead on the crucial tie-breaker – goal difference – at plus-four goal to the USA’s plus-two, meaning a tie in the final group game will send the Swedes to the championship against the winner of Group A.
For the second match in a row, U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd scored the deciding goal, after also blasting in the winner during the 2-1 victory over China on March 7. Amazingly, it came on her first touch of the game after she entered the match at halftime. After a first half in which the USA enjoyed almost all of the play, but created just a few good scoring chances, Ryan made five changes during the break, sending in Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach up front, Lloyd and Lori Chalupny in the midfield and Stephanie Lopez in the back.
The moves paid off immediately as three substitutes figured in the goal. Just seconds into the second half, Lilly earned a corner kick with a dynamic dribble down the left flank. Lopez took the corner kick, drilling it into the pack of players inside the penalty box. A Finland defender managed to get her head on the ball, but the clearance was poor and it bounced to Lloyd who was lurking at the top of the penalty box. She struck her first-time shot hard on the ground and into the net from 13 yards out for her third international goal.
The match also marked the return of Shannon Boxx to the U.S. lineup. The defensive midfielder was her usual ball-winning self, playing the entire 90 minutes in her first match back after recovering from the ACL surgery she underwent last summer.
The USA out-shot a Finland team that played a defensive 4-5-1 formation by a 17-3 margin, but while the Fins get credit for playing compact defense, they never really opened up and tried to attack the USA.
The USA’s best chance of the first half came in the 18th minute as forward Natasha Kai broke down the left wing, cut back and sent a cross to the far post. Forward Lindsay Tarpley made a hard run to the service, but couldn’t put her lunging first-time volley on fame from close range.
Finland had its only chance of the game in the 22nd minute when U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry inadvertently stepped out of the penalty box while punting the ball and was flagged by the assistant referee. That gave Finland an 18-yard direct free kick from just left of the penalty arc. Anna-Kaisa Rantanen struck her shot very well to the right of the wall, but Scurry scrambled to make a diving save, knocking the ball down and then over the end line away from danger.
Heather O’Reilly, Aly Wagner and Tarpley all had decent cracks at the Finnish net in the first half, but the real fireworks started after the break as the Americans pinned Finland in its own half, firing 12 shots and earning 10 corner kicks.
With the U.S. doing well to get around the Finnish defense on the flanks and balls flying through the penalty area throughout the second half, the Americans surely should have finished a few more chances.
In the 59th mintue, Wambach blasted a shot on frame after dribbling into the left side of the area. Finland ‘keeper Minna Meriluoto could only parry it away, and the rebound bounced right to Chalupny, who had a crack of her own from the middle of the penalty box only to see a Finland defender clear the ball away from inside her own six-yard box.
In the 72nd minute, Wambach created another chance, avoiding a defender while dribbling down the end line in the right side of the box, and then tried to find a U.S. player in the seam. Her cross was blocked, but it rolled to Boxx, who cracked her shot. That too was blocked, but the rebound fell to Lilly’s feet. She took her chance quickly from just outside the six-yard line, but blasted the ball just inches wide of the right post.
Finland mustered just one shot in the second half, that a looping volley which flew 20 yards over the goal, as Cat Whitehill marshaled a back line that kept Finland far from the U.S. net for most of the match.
The game also saw an extremely rare occurrence, as Lilly came off the bench for just the 12th time in her 20-year international career that has spanned 321 caps for USA. She earned most of the 10 corner kicks in the second half with her attacks down the left flank.
Five of the six games on the second match day of the 2007 Algarve Cup ended in 1-0 scores.
In the Group A matches, Denmark defeated Norway, 1-0, on a last-minute goal from Ditte Larsen after spending most of the game defending, while France pulled of a shocker against Germany, rebounding from a 4-0 thrashing to Denmark to defeat the reigning European and Women’s World Cup champions by a 1-0 score. It was the second loss in a row for the Germans, who were eliminated from contention for the championship after winning this tournament last year.
Denmark seems all but through to the championship game from Group A as the Danes only need a tie against Germany in its final group match. The Danes could even make the championship with a loss if the goal difference goes their way, a likely prospect as they are at plus-five and have yet to give up a goal in the tournament.
In the Group C matches, Italy defeated Portugal, 1-0, to win the group with one match remaining, while Iceland drew, 1-1, vs. Ireland.
Visit the Algarve Cup competitions page for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in Portugal.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Finland
Competition: 2007 Algarve Cup
Venue: Estadio da Nora; Ferreiras, Portugal
Date: March 9, 2007; Kickoff – 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, breezy – 68 degrees
1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
FIN 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (unassisted) 46th minute.
USA - 1-Briana Scurry; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Whitehill, 8-Tina Ellertson (14-Stephanie Lopez, 46), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt.; 7-Shannon Boxx, 16-Angela Hucles (17-Lori Chalupny, 46), 10-Aly Wagner (11-Carli Lloyd, 46); 9-Heather O’Reilly (20-Abby Wambach, 46), 6-Natasha Kai, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (13-Kristine Lilly, 46).
Subs not used: 12-Leslie Osborne, 18-Hope Solo, 19-Marci Jobson, 22-India Trotter.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
FIN - 1-Minna Meriluoto; 2-Petra Vaelma, 4-Maija Saari, 5-Tina Salmen – Capt., 6-Miia Niemi (13-Nina Hyvönen, 88), 11-Susanna Lehtinin; 3-Jessica Julin, 8-Katri Nokso-Koivisto (15-Kati Hakala, 74), 10-Anna-Kaisa Rantanen; 16-Heidi Lindström (14-Sanna Malaska, 58), 18-Annica Sjölund (17-Taru Laihanen, 46).
Subs not used: 7-Essi Sainio, 9-Sanna Talonen, 12-Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
Head Coach: Michael Kald
USA / FIN
Shots: 17 / 3
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 16 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 5
Offside: 4 / 2
FIN – Maija Saari (caution) 36th minute.
Referee: Bentla D’Coth (IND)
Asst. Referee: Kyoung Min Kim (KOR)
Asst. Referee: Ja Daw Kaw (MYA)
4th Official: Eun Ah Hong (KOR)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd
Group B Standings – Full Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
SWE 2 0 0 6 4 0 +4
USA 2 0 0 6 3 1 +2
CHN 0 2 0 0 1 3 -2
FIN 0 2 0 0 0 4 -4
Group B Schedule / Results – Full Schedule / Results
USA 2, China 1
Sweden 3, Finland 0
USA 1, Finland 0
Sweden 1, China 0
USA vs. Sweden
Finland vs. China
U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM QUOTE SHEET
U.S. HEAD COACH GREG RYAN
On playing a defensive-minded Finland team:
“We knew they were going to be a hard-working, strong defending team, and they did just that. Teams like that will do everything they can, and they should, through their organization and structure to keep their goals down.”
On the match:
“I think the thing we did well in the second half is that you don’t go through (the packed Finland team) so much, but go around (them). We did that very well in the second half, with the backs getting forward out wide, Lilly, Tash and Abby, making great runs, beating them end line, getting great service and getting numbers in the box, sealing the top of the box and getting corners. I think in the second half you saw how you have to break these teams down. I was very happy with how we approached the game in the second half.”
On making six changes to the lineup from the first match against China:
“We needed to give opportunities to some of our players that don’t play as much in this game for two reasons. We are going to have to rely on them and they need the games. So in the first half you saw a lot of players who haven’t played as much in the lineup, and in the second half you saw what is maybe our strongest group out there right now. I thought we had enough chances to score goals in the second half, but sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t.”
On facing Sweden with a berth in the championship game on the line:
“It’s going to be a great game. These are two of the four semifinalists from the last World Cup. Sweden was in the semifinal of the Olympics…This is just going to be a great game with two great teams. It’s early in the year so neither team is probably at their best right now, but I think it will be a great match and they have plenty of firepower over there. We’re going to have to bring our best game if we want to get into the final.
U.S. CAPTAIN KRISTINE LILLY
On the match:
“I think the first half we created some good chances. The first group wore down (Finland) and we scored within two minutes of the second half, which was good for us so we could settle a little bit and continue to attack them.”
On the match:
“We weren’t disappointed in the first half, the team played all right. We missed some chances and that was pretty much the summary of the game. The first team did a good job. The field was a little bumpy so settling the ball was a little difficult, but once we did that, we started to play and we scored a quick goal, and in the game of soccer, that’s all you need sometimes.”
On the five players who entered the game at halftime and took the match to Finland:
“The second group coming on was sitting there watching the game and had a little fire burning, so we came after them.”
On facing Sweden for a berth in the title game:
“It’s going to be great. I am looking forward to playing Sweden. They are a strong team, but they also play (good soccer). They have (Victoria) Svensson up front, and Lotta (Schelin), who I played against in the Swedish league, so I’m familiar with some of those players. They are a team that is combative, they’re tough and they play the game. We have some quickness on them a bit, so that will be to our advantage and hopefully we can bring the ball down. If we have the ball on the ground, we are more dangerous than when the ball is in the air.”
U.S. MIDFIELDER CARLI LLOYD
On scoring the winning goal:
“It was kind of unbelievable, first touch of the game, first few minutes. It’s nice going into a game confident and knowing that I don’t have to think so much. I just let things happen and let the play happen. It was a great ball served in, they headed it back, and I was just there at the right place at the right time to hit it in.”
On getting goals in the last two matches:
“It’s kind of a new beginning for me, I feel like. The team has been great, the coaches have been really supportive and they gave me a chance all last year. I can’t ask for anything more. I’m not stopping. These two games are past me, and I am going to continue to grow as a player and help this team as much as I can.
U.S. DEFENDER CAT WHITEHILL
On the match:
“I thought we played well. We’re still warming up for the World Cup and that’s when we want to peak. Yeah, we didn’t score some goals, but we still won, 1-0, we are still in position to make it to the finals and that’s all that matters.”
On facing Sweden in the final group game:
“It’s going to be exciting to play them. They have a new coach and evidently they are doing really well, beating Finland, 3-0, and China, 1-0, so it’s going to be a tough game. We are going to come out and try to win because we want to go to the finals. It will be good to see Sweden getting ready for the World Cup because there is a good possibility that we could be playing them.”
U.S. MIDFIELDER SHANNON BOXX
On her return from injury to the lineup:
“It’s just so much fun to be back with everybody and everyone was excited for me to be back as well, so that always pumps you up a little bit. It was a good game, we got a good win, and hopefully I’ll continue to get better.”