U.S. squanders chances, can only tie Sweden 1-1.SILVES, Portugal (Sunday, March 14, 1999) -- Tiffeny Milbrett netted an early goal, but the United States was only able to manage a 1-1 tie with Sweden today in the opening match of the Sixth Algarve Cup.
The U.S. (0-0-1, 1 point), which has not won the Algarve Cup in four previous visits, probably will have to win both of its remaining matches during group play -- against Finland on Tuesday and defending world champion Norway on Thursday -- to win Group A and earn the opportunity to play the Group B first-place team in Saturday’s championship match.
"We put ourselves in a tough position to win the group right off the start," said U.S. coach Tony DiCicco. "Now, we're going to need help from other teams. It might come down to goal difference, but if Norway wins big in their game against Sweden, it will make our task very difficult."
Norway (1-0-0, 3 points) needed an 85th minute goal from Marianne Pettersen to defeat Finland, 1-0. Norway dominated, but could not break through the packed Finland defense until Pettersen slammed her shot off the underside of the crossbar. Finland (0-1-0) claimed the shot never crossed the goalline.
The U.S. had defeated Sweden (0-0-1, 1 point) nine consecutive times dating back to November 1991.
"We played a solid game, but we made some mistakes, mostly because we were forcing play and trying to do too much," U.S. midfielder Michelle Akers said. "We need to be a more composed and finish our chances, but Sweden played very well."
Sweden opened the game with high-pressure defense against the 1996 Summer Olympic gold medalist, and produced a dangerous chance just two minutes into the game, when forward Victoria Svensson skimmed her shot off the top of the cross bar from 16 yards.
But after a rocky start, midfielder Julie Foudy, who played a slick and creative match in midfield, authored the first goal when she sliced a pass through Sweden's defense to striker Mia Hamm on the right flank. Hamm drove to the net and sent a hard cross on the ground through the goal-mouth. Shannon MacMillan had the first swing at the ball, but only caught a small piece, but Milbrett cleaned it up, slicing her 48th career goal into the left corner from eight yards for a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
The U.S. had many chances to score, but came up empty and paid for its inability to score in the 76th minute. Malin Mostrom got loose on the right flank and crossed to the far post where unmarked substitute Linda Fagerstrom volleyed the ball in from four yards out to even the score at 1.
"We did a lot of things well and we were unfortunate to give up that goal on what was really just one of two half chances they got in the second half," DiCicco said. "But we didn't finish our chances and I'm disappointed at that. But Ulrika Karlsson once again made several world-class saves and I think she was responsible for the result that they were able to get. Her two point-blank saves inside the six yard box were fantastic."
The U.S. outshot Sweden 19-9, but Karlsson came up with six timely saves. The Americans had several chances to win at the end, but midfielder Brandi Chastain's free kick from 19 yards out sailed just over the goal and several U.S. crosses failed to meet their mark.
"I'm most satisfied with the draw," said Sweden coach Marika Domanski Lyfors, whose husband Ulf was the coach of the only Sweden team to defeat the U.S., back in 1987 at the first meeting between the two countries. "My team was more consistent than in the past, better prepared and certainly more aggressive."
In the Group B, Denmark tied Australia 1-1 as Louise Hansen scored for the Danes and Julie Murray for the Matlidas, while China defeated host Portugal, 4-0, getting two goals from forward Jin Yan.
United States 1, Sweden 1Lineups: United States - Saskia Webber, Carla Overbeck, Kate Sobrero, Lorrie Fair, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain (Tisha Venturini 89), Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Shannon MacMillan (Michelle Akers 46), Tiffeny Milbrett (Sara Whalen 76), Mia Hamm; Sweden - Ulrika Karlsson, Cecilia Sandell, Karolina Westberg, Jane Tornquist, Jessica Sundh, Malin Mostrom, Malin Andersson, Sara Call, Kristin Bengtsson (Salina Olsson 55), Victoria Svensson (Linda Fagerstrom 63), Hanna Ljungberg (Malin Gustafsson 85).
Shots: United States 19, Sweden 9. Saves: United States 1, Sweden 6. Corner kicks: United States 6, Sweden 4. Fouls: United States 9, Sweden 15. Offside: United States 6, Sweden 4. Yellow card cautions: Sweden - Olsson 86.
Referee: Tammy Ogden (Australia). Assistant referees: Tina Svendsen (Denmark), Fernando Macedo (Portugal). Attendance: 400 at Francisco Viera Stadium in Silves, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, clear, 76 degrees.
Schedule, resultsTimes are local in Portugal. Times in parentheses are Eastern Standard
Sunday March 14
Tuesday, March 16
Thursday March 18
Saturday, March 20
Championship match in Loulè, 4 p.m. (10 a.m.)