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Sweden Edges U.S. Women on Penalties in Algarve Final


FARO, Portugal (March 11, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Team fell in a penalty kick shootout to Sweden in the championship game of the 2009 Algarve Cup after the match ended dramatically with a 1-1 score in regulation.

Shannon Boxx equalized in the 90th minute and the match went directly to penalty kicks, where the USA lost 4-3 after seven shooters.

Boxx’s goal came after an intense second half of searching for a tying goal to answer Lotta Schelin’s tally in the 18th minute. The Americans finally got it with seconds left in regulation time.

Carli Lloyd slipped past a player in midfield with a nice cut move and played a perfect ball into the left side of the penalty area to the streaking Natasha Kai. The Hawaiian ran the ball down at the end line, but was knocked down by a retreating Swedish defender. From a sitting position, Kai managed to knock the ball back to Megan Rapinoe in the left side of the penalty area. Rapinoe struck a hard cross on the ground through the goal mouth to Boxx at the far post where she slammed it first-time into the net from two yards away.

The dramatic goal, the USA’s second 90th-minute score of the tournament, led to an even more dramatic penalty kick shootout.

Sweden’s Louise Fors started her country out with a hard shot into the lower left corner. Boxx answered with a perfect blast into the upper right corner. Lisa Dahlkvist also found the lower left corner, setting the stage for Rapinoe, whose driven shot was almost directly at Swedish goalkeeper Kristin Hammarstrøm and she batted the ball away.

Linda Sembrandt hit her shot off the left post and in, followed by Lloyd tucking her chance away into the left corner as well to make it 3-2 Sweden after three shots each. The USA then got new life as Anna Paulson skied Sweden’s fourth shot over the bar. The Americans didn’t take advantage as Christie Rampone clanged her shot off the inside of the left post and behind the Swedish ‘keeper, but it didn’t cross the goal line.

Schelin then stepped to the spot on her team’s fifth kick with a chance to win the match, but Solo acrobatically pushed her shot away with a full-extension dive to left post. The miss meant that late substitute Tina DiMartino had to convert the USA’s fifth kick to send the shootout into sudden death. DiMartino’s shot was seemingly saved by Hammarstrøm with a dive to the left post, which would have ended the game, but somehow the ball squeezed through the goalkeeper’s hands and rolled across the goal line.

Emelie Ölander then blasted her shot over the goal and incredibly, Sweden had missed its fourth, fifth and sixth kicks, giving 88th minute sub Angie Woznuk a chance to win it for the USA. Unfortunately, Hammarstrøm guessed correctly and pushed Woznuk’s shot away with a dive to the left post.

Stine Segerstrom then finished smartly into the lower left corner on her team’s seventh penalty and Heather Mitts cracked her shot off the left post and out to give Sweden the victory.

Mitts earned her 100th cap for the USA in the match, becoming the 25th female player and eighth defender in U.S. history to reach that career milestone.

The Americans had gifted Sweden the lead off a give-away in USA’s defensive third by Boxx, who hit her back-pass too lightly to Rampone and created a 3-v-1 situation. Caroline Seger swooped in to control the ball, dribbled hard at Rampone and then played a pass to her left to the wide-open Schelin. The lanky Swedish striker had plenty of time to pick her corner and rolled her shot into the lower right corner past the charging Solo. It would be the last time Schelin would beat Solo, her former teammate on the Swedish club side Kopparbergs/Goteborg, although she had plenty of chances.

In the 24th minute, Sara Thunebro got around the left side of the U.S. defense and cut a cross back to Schelin who was making a hard run to the top of the six-yard box. She swiped at the ball from almost point blank range, but somehow Solo, who was moving across the goal, stuck her foot out and saved the shot. The rebound bounced off the fallen Schelin and over the end line.

In the 52nd minute, Schelin was back terrorizing the U.S. defense as she tussled with Boxx on a through ball. Boxx went down, giving Schelin another one-on-one with Solo, but the U.S. ‘keeper flung herself at the ball and gobbled it up as Schelin tried to dribble around her.

In the 67th minute, Schelin got behind the U.S. defense once again, but this time Solo held her ground and timed her challenge perfectly, stealing the ball right off her feet.

Sweden was certainly the better team in the first half, attacking with fervor and creating a few chances that were either saved by Solo or scrambled away by the defense, while exerting intense defensive pressure in the midfield that precluded the Americans from developing any sort of rhythm. Sweden forward Victoria Svensson did a great job of finding the space between the U.S. midfield and backline, then combining with her teammates, but the U.S. backs held strong after giving up that 18th minute goal.

Sweden’s goal marked the only one allowed by the USA in the tournament.

The Swedes may also have done enough to win the match in the second half, but the U.S. team never gave up its search for an equalizer while playing much better in the final 45 minutes.

Sundhage sent on forward Amy Rodriguez at halftime and moved Rapinoe to the left midfield slot where she created all kinds of danger. Boxx also moved into more of a midfield role.

The USA started to make a real push midway through the second half, and Rampone’s run from the back in the 63rd minute almost produced a goal, but her bending ball behind the defense from the left side of the penalty area was just a bit too far for Rodriguez.

Three minutes later, Rapinoe slipped a pass through the Sweden defense to the streaking Rodriguez, but she fired her breakaway chance at Hammarstrøm who pulled off the kick save.

Three minutes after that, the USA sent a looping ball into the penalty area that bounced hard over the onrushing Hammarstrøm and a defender had to clear it out of the six-yard box with an overhead kick.

In the 75th minute, Rapinoe was taken down above the left side of the penalty area, but Lloyd ripped her free kick right at the Swedish ‘keeper from 30 yards away. Lloyd had another chance two minutes later as she played a short corner to Rodriguez, got it back as she dribbled centrally and ripped a shot that a Swedish defender headed out of the hands of her own ‘keeper at the left post.

Solo had to come up big again with five minutes left as Sweden’s counterattack continued to threaten. The U.S. ‘keeper flew to her left to snag a shot from Madelaine Edlund that could have snuck inside the left post. Solo’s phenomenal performance in her three starts at the Algarve Cup earned her Best Player of the tournament honors. It was first time in 14 Algarve Cups that a goalkeeper has won the award.

The USA only had one or two good chances in a lackluster first half, but one came right after Sweden’s goal as Lloyd found a bit of space to win a long throw-in into Sweden’s penalty area. She got a good strike on the ball, but hammered her shot off the legs of Hammarstrøm from about 10 yards away.

The match marked the USA’s seventh straight Algarve Cup championship game. The USA won the tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, but fell in penalty kicks to the Germans in the 2006. The USA won the Algarve Cup for the first time in 2000.

The U.S. played without starting defender Lori Chalupny, who missed her second straight game due to illness, but Rachel Buehler filled in admirably at left back.

In the other Algarve Cup placement matches, Poland reversed a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Wales in the final match of Group C play to defeat the Welsh 2-1 and take eleventh place. Norway defeated Austria, 2-0, to take ninth. Finland and Portugal tied 1-1 after regulation before the hosts fell 4-2 in penalty kicks and China PR downed Iceland, 1-0, to take third. A 43rd minute goal from Julie Rydahl Bukh gave Denmark a 1-0 upset win against Germany in the third-place match.

The U.S. players now head back to United States to join their WPS clubs in final preparations for the inaugural season that opens March 29 as the Washington Freedom visit the Los Angeles Sol. The U.S. team will not come together again until this summer for matches that will be announced in the near future.

- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: March 11, 2009
Competition: 2009 Algarve Cup; Championship Game
Venue: Estadio Algarve; Faro, Portugal
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (Noon ET)
Attendance: 1,200
Weather: 72 degrees, sunny, breezy

Scoring Summary: 1    2    F    PKs
USA                            0    1    1    3
SWE                           1    0    1    4

SWE – Lotta Schelin (Caroline Seger) 18th minute
USA – Shannon Boxx (Megan Rapinoe) 90

Penalty Summary:
SWE: Fors (goal), Dahlkvist (goal), Sembrandt (goal), Paulson (miss – high), Schelin (saved), Ölander (miss – high), Segerström (goal)
USA: Boxx (goal), Rapinoe (saved), Lloyd (goal), Rampone (miss – left post), DiMartino (goal), Woznuk (saved), Mitts (miss – left post)

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (capt.), 7-Shannon Boxx, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Rachel Buehler; 9-Heather O’Reilly (12-Angie Woznuk, 88), 16-Angela Hucles (19-Tina DiMartino, 83), 10-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (8-Amy Rodriguez, 46); 15-Megan Rapinoe, 6-Natasha Kai
Subs not used: 13-Kendall Fletcher, 17-Lori Chalupny, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Kacey White
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

SWE: 12-Kristin Hammarstrøm, 2-Charlotte Rohlin, 3-Stina Segerström, 4-Anna Paulson, 6-Sara Thunebro (7-Emelie Ölander, 46); 5-Caroline Seger (19-Linda Sembrandt, 78), 15-Therese Sjögran (16-Louise Fors, 63), 17-Kosovare Aslani (14-Madelaine Edlund, 53), 18-Nilla Fischer (20-Lisa Dahlkvist, 37); 11-Victoria Svensson (capt.) (10-Sara Lindén, 71), 8-Lotta Schelin
Subs not used: 1-Hedvid Lindahl, 9-Anna Lindblom, 13-Alexandra Niilsson
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby

Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 11 / 11
Shots on Goal: 8 / 6
Saves: 5 / 6
Corner Kicks: 5 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 11
Offside: 5 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Bibiana Steinhaus (GER)
Assistant Referee: Marina Wozniak (GER)
Assistant Referee: Moiken Reichert (GER)
Fourth Official: Gyongyi Gaal (HUN)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match:
Hope Solo

Algarve Cup Final Standings
1. Sweden
2. USA
3. Denmark
4. Germany
5. China
6. Iceland
7. Finland
8. Portugal
9. Norway
10. Austria
11. Poland
12. Wales


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