US SoccerUS Soccer

Welsh Provides U.S. Women With 1-0 Victory Over France in Algarve Cup Opener

FERREIRAS, Portugal (March 9, 2005) - Using both grit and guile, and an excellent finish from forward Christie Welsh, the U.S. Women's National Team earned a quality 1-0 win over France to open the 2005 Algarve Cup.

The match marked several firsts as it was the USA's first match of 2005, the first game since the retirement of three legends in Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, and first match under interim head coach Greg Ryan.

On a frustratingly bumpy pitch and in gusting winds, the young U.S. team battled for 90 minutes and did extremely well to shutout a talented French team preparing for the 2005 European Championships and keep their star forward Marinette Pichon off the scoreboard.

In a much different match than the USA's 5-1 victory over France last year to open the Algarve Cup, the chances for both teams were few.  The USA did not take its first shot until the 17th minute when forward Abby Wambach slid to meet a cross on the ground from Lindsay Tarpley, but the ball spun harmlessly into the hands of French goalkeeper Celine Deville.

Attacking midfielder Aly Wagner looked dangerous in the 20th minute as she received a quickly taken free kick and spun towards goal before unleashing a torrid drive just over the crossbar.  Seconds later it would be the duo of Wagner and Welsh, who ironically are both playing club soccer for Olympique Lyonnais in France, that would combine on the winner.

The goal sequence saw Wagner collect a short pass from Wambach near the left corner of the penalty area and chip a pass into the middle of the box.  It deflected off a French defender and Welsh did well to reach the bouncing ball first, hitting a spinning half volley with her left foot into the lower left corner from 12 yards out.  It was Welsh's 14th career goal in 24 career matches.

The goal would prove to be enough as stifling U.S. team defense held the French without a shot in the first half, and just three after the break, two of which sailed straight into the hands of U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and one that flew high over the net.

Central defenders Kate Markgraf and Cat Reddick were phenomenal in winning head balls, especially when facing a stiff wind and booming punts from Deville in the first half.

Content to launch mostly ineffective long balls at the USA in the first half, France picked up their possession game in the second half and Sandrine Soubeyrand fired her side's first shot just two minutes after the break.  France also managed to get off a couple of crosses from the flanks, but nothing too troubling for the 23-year-old Barnhart, who earned a shutout in her first match in goal for the full Women's National Team.

Twenty-one-year old Lori Chalupny played all 90 minutes at left back for the U.S., her first start in the defense at any level, and looked extremely comfortable, tackling hard all game and getting forward into the attack on several occasions.  Heather Mitts was also nails at right back, once leveling her former WUSA teammate Pichon on a crunching tackle.

After seeing France start to gain some momentum, the USA switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation 15 minutes into the second half, as Kristine Lilly dropped to left midfield and Tarpley pushed out wide right.  The USA then took back control of the match, earning five of its eight corner kicks in the second half.  It was in the 77th minute off a corner that the Americans had perhaps their best chance of the second half as Lilly, who extended her mind-boggling world record for caps to 292, skidded the cross into the middle.  The ball somehow slipped through to Wambach who fired a hard shot, only to see it skip of the leg of French defender at the six-yard line and loop just over the crossbar.

In the waning seconds of the game, substitute Heather O'Reilly, who provided an attacking spark off the bench after entering the game in the 64th minute, lifted a ball over the French defense for the sprinting Wambach.  The U.S. forward beat Deville to the ball, nodding it by the French 'keeper with her head, but it bounced just outside the left post.

The U.S. team will face Finland on Friday, March 11, in its next Group B match (1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET on's MatchTracker) needing to make up two goals on Denmark, which scored three unanswered goals to defeat Finland, 4-1, and sits atop the group with the USA in second place.

In Group A which features four of the top six ranked teams in the world, Norway got off to a great start with a 2-1 win over China and Germany continued their mastery of Sweden, also winning, 2-1.  In Group C, England routed Northern Ireland, 4-0, and Mexico came from a goal down to defeat host Portugal, 2-1.

Match-up:       USA vs. France
Competition:    2005 Algarve Cup - Group B
Venue:             Estadio da Nora; Ferreiras, Portugal
Date:               March 9, 2005; Kickoff - 4:15 p.m. Local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Attendance:     250
Weather:         Windy, sunny - 62 degrees

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

USA - Christie Welsh (Aly Wagner) 20th minute.

USA: 1-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Markgraf, 11-Lori Chalupny; 5-Lindsay Tarpley (3-Lorrie Fair, 80), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner (8-Angela Hucles, 68); 19-Christie Welsh (9-Heather O'Reilly, 64), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly-Capt.
Subs not used: 6-Stephanie Lopez, 12-Amy Rodriguez, 14-Jill Oakes, 16-Kelly Wilson, 17-Lindsey Huie, 18-Hope Solo.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

FRA: 16-Céline Deville; 5-Corinne Diacre, 13-Sandrine Dusang, 4-Laura Georges, 3-Peggy Provost; 12-Camille Abily, 8-Sonia Bompastor – Capt., 7-Stephanie Mugneret-Beghe (15-Elise Bussaglia, 61), 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand; 18-Hoda Lattaf (11-Laetitia Tonazzi, 68), 9-Marinette Pichon.
Subs not used: 1-Sandrine Capy, 2-Sabrina Viguier, 10-Candie Herbert, 14-Ludivine Diguelman, 17-Marie-Ange Kramo, 19-Anne-Laure Casseleux, 20-Laure LePailleur.
Head Coach: Elisbeth Loisel

Statistical Summary:      
                             USA      FRA
Shots:                     10           3
Shots on Goal:         5            2
Saves:                      2            4
Corner Kicks:          8            2
Fouls:                      11          16
Offside:                    2            1

Misconduct Summary: None

Referee:  Dagmar Damkova (Czech Republic)
Assistant Referee: Hana Spackova (Czech Republic)
Assistant Referee: Brigitta Makkosne Petz (Hungary)

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

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

March 11
China PR v Sweden 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Germany v Norway 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

March 13
China PR v Germany 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Sweden v Norway 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

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

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

March 11
USA v Finland 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Denmark v France 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

March 13
USA v Denmark 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Finland v France 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

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

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

March 11
England v Portugal       1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Mexico v Northern Ireland 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

March 13

England v Mexico       1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Northern Ireland v Portugal 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

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        3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Championship                             6 p.m. local / 1 p.m. ET

U.S. Quote Sheet

U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan on the game:
"We've had one week of preparation here.  We have a bunch of young players so we tried to play as much as we could to get to know each other and today they played very well for only one week together, so I was very happy."

Ryan on the integration of young players into the lineup:
"This is a year where we have to try to bring in new players and give them an opportunity to prove that they can play at this level. The Algarve Cup is a great place to do that because you are playing against the best teams and players.  We have two years until the next Women's World Cup and we know if they can do well here, they are well on their way to being able to perform in two years."

Ryan on France:
"France is a very good team.  They beat Norway twice recently in friendly matches, they play very good soccer and I think today was a very good win for our young team.  They have more experience than us right now.  Most of their lineup played in the 2003 Women's World Cup."

Ryan on the USA's defending:
"I think one of the keys to the match was that we worked a lot on team defending.  That was (the theme of) our first two training sessions and we've talked about it every day since.  I thought the work that our forwards and midfielders were doing was causing so many problems for France that they weren't getting a good look at our back line, but our back line closed the door. I was more impressed with the back line in the second half because we weren't able to keep that pressure the whole game, and we knew that, so we changed systems once we started to fade.  At that point, the back line started to get in situations where they were outnumbered occasionally and were getting stretched more, and they still didn't give away anything.  I thought they played really tight defense for 90 minutes."

Goal scorer Christie Welsh, who made her first start for the USA since 2001:

"It's been an up and down ride for me.  We have a great pool of players so I've just been trying to make my mark.  We had a few players retire and I was given the opportunity again.  All of us wanted to get a win and it's always good to score.  When you do, you're happy."

U.S. midfielder and team captain Kristine Lilly:
"It was a great first game (of the New Year and era).  We couldn't possess the ball because the field was so bumpy, but how the team coped with the field and in this game was awesome.  We battled and won every fifty-fifty ball, so I think the mentality of this group was great."

Lilly on what the USA needs to improve in the Finland match:
"We didn't get the balls to our forwards enough so we could take them on.  We played the ball over the top a bit too much.  When we get the ball to our forwards feet, it gets their defense on their heels and that's when we can beat them with combination play."