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U.S. Women Defeat Germany 1-0 to Win 2005 Algarve Cup


FARO, Portugal (March 15, 2005) - The U.S. Women's National Team got a 23rd minute goal from forward Christie Welsh and put together a stellar defensive performance to defeat Germany 1-0 and win the 12th Annual Algarve Cup.

The match marked a U.S. victory over the top-ranked team in the FIFA Women's World Rankings as the two women's soccer powers met in a tournament final for the first time.  It was the third Algarve Cup championship in a row for the U.S. team, and fourth overall, but the first time in 10 trips to this tournament that the USA had achieved the remarkable feat of going all four games without allowing a goal.

On a chilly night at the world-class Stadium Algarve, the USA put together an impressive attacking first half and then held the talented Germans at bay in the second to earn a fantastic win for this young U.S. team.

Both teams played in 4-4-2 formations with 5-foot-11 Abby Wambach and the 5-foot-10 Welsh up top for the USA while Germany went with two-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year Birgit Prinz and rising young star Anja Mittag at forward.

Germany had the USA on its heels for the first 15 minutes before the Americans settled down and got used to the blistering pace of the match, but Prinz had her team's best chance of the first half in the 16th minute when she broke through the U.S. defense on what was really her only dangerous shot of the match. In came off a counter attack as the bulldozing Prinz raced through a seam in the back line, only to smack her shot just wide right of the post from the top of the penalty area as Kate Markgraf and Lori Chalupny closed on her.

The USA took its first shot in the 18th minute as Wambach wriggled free on the right side of box and struck a dipping left-footed blast to the near post that German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg did well to catch.

The USA tallied five minutes later through a magical ball from midfielder Aly Wagner.  Wagner had been struggling to connect on a final pass against the ultra-organized German back line in the first 20 minutes, but her 40-yard cross-field ball to Welsh was magnificent, dropping right over the head of defender Ariane Hingst and into the path of the streaking Welsh.  The U.S. forward brought it down perfectly with her first touch and then unleashed a shot from just inside the penalty area with her second.  Rottenberg kicked saved the first shot, but it rolled perfectly back to Welsh who stuffed the rebound into the open net from 12 yards out.  It was the fifth goal of the tournament for Welsh and won her the Algarve Cup scoring title.  It was also the 18th international goal of her career.

The match was end-to-end in the first half, but after the goal, the USA picked up the pressure and produced some quality scoring chances.

In the 34th minute, the USA was awarded an indirect free kick just inside German penalty box after a German defender had raised her boot in Wambach's face while clearing a bouncing ball.  Lilly touched it to Wagner, but her shot from 17 yards out hit the top of the tall German wall.

In the 36th minute, Lilly's pressure in the left side of the penalty area forced Hingst into a back pass to her goalkeeper, but she did not see Welsh lurking there and the U.S. striker ran onto the ball well before Rottenberg could get it, freezing the German 'keeper.  From a poor angle, Welsh did not take the chance well, slapping it across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.

The second half saw Germany attack in waves, but the American defense held tight, amazingly allowing zero shots on goal after the break.  Germany's speed of attack was remarkable as they threw everything at the USA in the final 30 minutes, whipping in numerous dangerous crosses from both flanks, but failing to find an open white jersey as a U.S. defender always seemed to be in the right place.

The USA's best chance in the second half came from 21-year-old midfielder Lindsay Tarpley, who almost finished a back-heel flick off a U.S. free kick from the left corner.

It was a Herculean effort over the 90 minutes for the U.S. defense, who covered for each other extremely well and always came up with a huge tackle when Germany seemed poised to break through.

It was a breakout tournament for U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who earned just her 15th cap in the Algarve Cup final, as she posted shutouts in the final three matches of the tournament. While the U.S. defense was stifling throughout the four games, Solo came up big when tested, and nothing was bigger than her solid grab of a tantalizing Germany cross in the waning moments.

Germany had equalized on the USA at 1-1 in the third minute of stoppage time during the last meeting between these two teams, but there would be no repeat of the 2004 Olympic semifinal drama.  Germany's last gasp free kick from midfield in the third minute of stoppage time was headed away by Cat Reddick and the final whistle blew.

It was also a breakthrough tournament for 21-year-old Lori Chalupny, who started all four games and put in some stellar work at left back, especially in the final against towering German outside midfielder Kerstin Garefrakes, who stands a full eight inches taller than her.  Chalupny played 332 minutes in this tournament after playing just 271 minutes previously during her full national team career.

In the other placement matches, France defeated Sweden, 3-2, in a seesaw battle for third place at the Stadium Algarve.  Les Bleus got the late winner from Hoda Lattaf.  Norway defeated Denmark, 2-1 for fifth place.  Both the seventh and ninth place matches went to penalties with China and England tying 0-0 in regulation before China took the seventh spot on the spot kicks.  Mexico finished a solid tournament for the Algarve Cup first-timers, tying Finland 1-1 in regulation before winning on their seventh penalty kick and placing ninth.  Host Portugal picked up a big come-from-behind 3-1 win over Northern Ireland after losing to that same team in the final match of group play.

China won the Fair Play Award while Prinz picked up the tournament MVP.  Norway's Bente Nordby was chosen as the tournament's top goalkeeper.

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up:       USA vs. Germany
Competition:  2005 Algarve Cup - Championship Game
Venue:           Estádio Algarve; Faro, Portugal
Date:             March 15, 2005; Kickoff - 8:15 p.m. Local / 3:15 p.m. ET
Attendance:   1,000
Weather:       Clear, chilly - 62 degrees

Scoring Summary:
             1    2     F
USA     1    0    1
GER     0    0    0

USA - Christie Welsh (Aly Wagner)              23rd minute.

Lineups:
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Markgraf, 11-Lori Chalupny; 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner (8-Angela Hucles, 75), 13-Kristine Lilly-Capt.; 19-Christie Welsh (9-Heather O'Reilly, 83), 20-Abby Wambach.
Subs not used: 1-Nicole Barnhart, 3-Lorrie Fair, 6-Stephanie Lopez, 12-Amy Rodriguez, 14-Jill Oakes, 16-Kelly Wilson, 17-Lindsey Huie.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

GER: 1-Silke Rottenberg; 2-Kerstin Stegemann, 4-Steffi Jones, 5-Sarah Gunther (15-Sonja Fuss, 70), 17-Ariane Hingst; 10-Renate Lingor (20-Celia Okoyino de Mbabi, 86), 18-Kerstin Garefrekes, 3-Britta Carlson (6-Viola Odebrecht, 32) 16-Conny Pohlers (7-Pia Wunderlich, 83); 11-Anja Mittag (8-Sandra Smisek, 66), 9-Birgit Prinz.
Subs not used: 12-Nadine Angerer, 13-Sandra Minnert, 14-Annike Krahn, 19-Melanie Behringer
Head Coach: Tina-Thuene Meyer

Statistical Summary:     
                          USA     GER
Shots:                 11          9
Shots on Goal:    3           2
Saves:                 2           2
Corner Kicks:     0           2
Fouls:                  8           7
Offside:               3           3

Misconduct Summary: 
USA - Hope Solo (caution)            68th minute.

Officials:
Referee: Florea Cristina Ionescu (Romania)
Assistant Referee: Irina Mirt (Romania)
Assistant Referee: Katarzyna Nadolska (Poland)
4th Official: Eun Ah Hong (Korea)

March 15
Match for place 11th and 12th         Portugal 3, Northern Ireland 1
Match for place 9th and 10th           Mexico 1, Finland 1 (Mexico wins on PKs)
Match for place 7th and 8th             England 0, China 0 (China wins on PKs)
Match for place 5th and 6th             Norway 2, Denmark 1
Match for place 3rd and 4th             France 3, Sweden 2
Championship                                  USA 1, Germany 0

Algarve Cup Final Standings:
1. USA
2. Germany
3. France
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. Norway
7. China
8. England
9. Mexico
10. Finland
11. Portugal
12. N. Ireland

Top Scorer: Christie Welsh (USA)
Best Player: Birgit Prinz (Germany)
Best Goalkeeper: Bente Nordby (Norway)
Fair Play Award: China

U.S. QUOTE SHEET:
U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan on the match:
"Germany played four running at our back line, so for much of the game it's four against four and because of that we didn't have much time to play with the ball at the back.  But because they sent so many players forward, we were able to create some good chances behind them.  We were playing for the break, for the counter, and in the first half we created some good chances.  In the second half, up a goal, we played a little more conservatively.  We didn't send our outside defenders forward so much, we held them back, because we knew Germany would send five and six players at us.  We sat back nice and tight, and we thought we might be able to get another one on the break, but Germany was very, very good in the second half."

Ryan on the team defense throughout the tournament:
"We worked a lot and talked about team organization and defense.   We talked about it every meeting and the players bought into it as far as how to defend as a group.  All four lines defended well, and every time you have 11 players that are organized and work that hard, you have a chance.  In this tournament, we gave away no more than three or four chances in the tournament that should have been goals.  The players embraced the idea of staying very organized and creating our attack out of that team defense."

Ryan on Christie Welsh:
"I think Christie Welsh was the player of the tournament.  Anytime a player comes on and scores five goals, against good teams, she's the player of the tournament.  And her goal won the tournament tonight."

Ryan on the impact of the win:
"I think it gives this young team tremendous confidence as they grow until the next Women's World Cup.  This will be a great team in two and half years. They had a great performance here already, so I think this young team set a very high standard.  Not just in winning the tournament, but in terms of quality of play.  This tournament has created a lot of motivation and enthusiasm for the future."

Ryan on the leadership of the veteran players:
"Kristine Lilly was a fantastic captain on this trip.  She really helped the young players on and off the field.  Everyone mixed together well, there was never an older table or younger table at meals, there was just a U.S. table.  Boxxy and Abby were very important leaders for this team and the way they reach out to the younger players and made them completely a part of the team."

Ryan on U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo:
"Hope was incredible.  In the Finland game, she had to make three great saves, and close down a breakaway, and she got confidence and momentum from that game.  Because of her performance there, we went with her in Denmark game and she threw a shutout again.  Tonight, we had some much confidence in her.  That last high ball that went into the mix, she was going to have to catch it or we were going to be in trouble, and she went up into a crowd of some really tall German women and just stuck it. So her steady play gave us some tremendous confidence."

U.S. captain Kristine Lilly on the victory:
"This tournament was big for this team because it was such a transition with players retiring and with all the young players. I don't think the outside expectations were for us to win.  But as a team, we expected to win and I think that made the difference. I am very proud of this team."

Lilly on the tournament:
"Each game we got better as a team on the attacking end, but in all four games we were consistently tough on defense.  It wasn't one or two players, it was great team defense, from our back line to our midfield to the forward line.  Everyone was working for each other, and cover for each other, and that was great."

Lilly on the Germans, a favorite to win this summer's European Championships:
"The Germans seem to be getting better and better.  In the 2003 Women's World Cup, we saw a great team.  We saw a great team in the Olympics and tonight we saw a great team.  They are very organized and you can see they have been playing together, so to hold them to so few shots on goal was a great effort.  Credit to us, but obviously it's always a difficult game against the Germans."

U.S. midfielder Lindsay Tarpley on the win:
"The veterans that are here and the ones that aren't here have formed this tradition and this environment and a set a standard.  As young players, we feel that. Having a few of those veterans still playing helps the younger players realize what it takes to wear this jersey and I think that pride showed tonight."

U.S. forward Christie Welsh on the tournament:
"You have to prepare to win.  We put in a lot of effort in the past two weeks and worked very hard for this victory."

U.S. forward Abby Wambach on the development of the team:
"Our focus is still, and will always be, up until the (2007 Women's) World Cup, to develop this team to become even better than we were tonight.  Germany, Sweden and Norway are going to do it, so if we don't keep developing as a team, we are going to lose these close games. So in order to stay on the top of our game, and stay among the top three teams in the world, we're going to have to continue playing and training at the highest level and do whatever it takes to keep winning."

Wambach on the team coming together in Portugal:
"Greg did a great job of preparing and organizing us.  It was really great to know that the team could come together with so many young players, with players getting their first caps on this trip and Kristine Lilly heading towards 300 caps.  It was so great that players on the different spectrum of ages could come together and play such great defense."

Wambach on the defense:
"I think the best player on the team is our whole defense.  They don't get the credit for scoring goals, but to go the whole tournament with getting a goal scored on them…awesome."
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