After routing Finland,U.S. under-21 women face Germany for title.
BAMBERG, Germany (Wednesday, August 2, 2000) -- The United States has a date tomorrow with host Germany to decide the title of the Nordic Cup, the world’s premier tournament for under-21 women. It will be the fourth game in seven days for both nations.
A tie or a loss would have relegated the U.S. to the third-place match against the Group A runnerup, or worse, but Welsh found net twice in a three-minute span to erase any doubt. With a Jena Kluegel goal in the 28th minute and a Nandi Pryce tally just before halftime, the Americans took a 4-0 advantage into intermission.
"I told them that we needed nothing less than a win, and they responded from the opening whistle," said U.S. coach Jillian Ellis. "We played some dynamic soccer and scored some tremendous goals. Our speed of play was better than in the first two games and we definitely showed better composure with our finishing."
The U.S. repeatedly got behind the Finnish defense on the flanks as center midfielders Aleisha Cramer and Aly Wagner fed a steady diet of penetrating passes to Kluegel, Susan Bush and Michelle French on the flanks.
Welsh, who has scored 11 goals for the full national team this year, had yet to score in the Nordic Cup, but changed that in a hurry after Bush crossed on the ground to her inside the penalty area. Welsh received the ball with her back to the goal, cut past a player and buried her shot into the upper left corner from 18 yards to make it 1-0.
Three minutes later, Kluegel provided the service from the right flank. Welsh had enough time to settle the ball inside the box and lash a volley into the right corner from 12 yards.
"Christie is a pure goal scorer," Ellis said. "I knew it was only a matter of time before she buried a few chances."
Kluegel scored the third goal with a darting run up the middle, sliding to power the ball into the net off French's service from the right flank.
Pryce made it 4-0 in the 42nd minute, leaping high to head Bush's corner kick over leaping goalkeeper Satu Peltonen and just under the crossbar.
The U.S. was reduced to 10 players in the 44th minute when midfielder Mary Frances Monroe was ejected with her second yellow card. Monroe had received a caution in the 10th minute for what referee Rebbeka Kirchner thought was an intentional hand ball after a Finnish clearance had struck her on the upper arm. Just before halftime, Monroe attempted a chest trap near midfield and the ball once again grazed her upper arm.
The U.S. team appealed the ruling, and will get a decision today, but it is expected that Monroe will be suspended for the final.
Playing short, the U.S. still controlled the match with quality possession and smart running, but with 20 minutes remaining, Cramer injured her ankle and had to leave the match. Having already used its five allowed substitutes, the Americans were forced to play the remaining of the game with nine players, becoming the first team in history to win a Nordic Cup match playing a 3-4-1 formation.
With lone forward Kim Patrick running from sideline to sideline, and Veronica Zepeda keeping possession in the midfield, the U.S. bided time. All three of Finland's shots came in the last 10 minutes, two of which were saved by Jenni Branam, who picked up her second shutout of the tournament.
In the 82nd minute, defender Marcia Wallace netted a bending Caroline Putz ball to the near post to increase the margin to 5-0.
"I'm proud of the way our team played today," said Welsh, who also hit the post twice before coming out at halftime. "We needed a win and we went out there and put the game away early. We stayed calm even when Mary got ejected and showed great composure even with nine players."
The U.S. has now advanced to the Nordic Cup title match each of the past four years, the first three against Norway, and won the tournament in 1997 and 1999. The Americans also won this event in 1993.
"We showed great mentality and resolve when we went down players to not only earn a shutout, but also score a goal," Ellis said. "Still, the victory was bittersweet because of losing Mary to the red card. But if we have to play without her in the Final, I know the players will respond."
United States 5, Finland 0Lineups: United States - Jenni Branam, Anna Kraus (Danielle Borgman 57), Nandi Pryce, Catherine Reddick, Michelle French (captain), Aleisha Cramer (removed injured 70), Aly Wagner (Veronica Zepeda 65), Jena Kluegel (Marcia Wallis 57), Christie Welsh (Kim Patrick 46), Mary Frances Monroe, Susan Bush (Caroline Putz 63). Finland - Satu Peltonen, Petra Vaelma (Anu Eskelinen 46), Hanna Kaaranen (Tiina Saario 55), Saria Ahlroos, Pia Silander, Laura Kalmari (Minna Tuominen 46), Milla Mattila, Salla Ranta, Elisa Simonen, Eveliina Sarapaa (Linda Lindqvist 46), Pia Lehtimaki (Heidi Lindstrom 61).
Shots: United States 20, Finland 3. Saves: United States 2, Finland 3. Corner kicks: United States 9, Finland 2. Fouls: United States 8, Finland 5. Offside: United States 0, Finland 1. Yellow card cautions: United States - Monroe 10, Reddick 49. Red card ejection: United States - Monroe (second yellow card) 44.
Referee: Rebbeka Kirchner (Germany). Attendance: 150 at Volkspark Stadium in Bamberg, Germany. Weather: Sunny, warm, 78 degrees.