MacMillan long distance strike in 86th gives U.S. 2-1 win over Denmark.FARO, Portugal (Tuesday, March 14, 2000) -- Second-half substitute Shannon MacMillan’s found net from 40 yards in the 86th minute capped a two-goal rally after intermission for the United States women to came from behind to edge Denmark 2-1 before 300 fans witnessing Algarve Cup Group A action today at San Luis Stadium.
The U.S. (2-0, 6 points, plus-7 goal differential), who received he tying goal from defensive midfielder Lorrie Fair in the 67th minute, will advance to Saturday’s championship match against the Group B winner by registering a victory or tie against Sweden (2-0, 6 points, plus-5) Thursday in Lagos. Sweden easily recorded a 5-1 decision over Portugal (0-2, 0 points, minus-10) today.
In Group B, China (2-0, 6 points, plus-7) notched a 5-1 win over Finland (0-2, 0 points, minus-5) and will play for the title with either a victory or tie against Norway (2-0, 6 points, plus-3) Thursday. Norway managed a 2-1 triumph over Canada (0-2, 0 points, minus-5) today.
With the U.S. pressing hard for a winner, MacMillan came to the rescue in spectacular fashion. She received a pass just inside the attacking half on the left side of the field, beat one player and struck a screaming shot from far out that flew over Denmark’s goalkeeper Lone Larsen and just under the crossbar to make it 2-1. The goal came at the end of a dominating second half in which the U.S. outshot Denmark 14-0 and created numerous chances while peppering the Danish goal area.
"I picked up the ball around midfield, cut back on a defender, then took a little peek at the goalkeeper," said MacMillan, who entered the game in the 67th minute for Sara Whalen at right midfield. "I didn't see a forward checking so I just ripped it. I knew it was in as soon as I saw the flight of the ball.
"April almost put me in at halftime, but told me to keep warming up. Just watching I could tell it was a physical game, but I saw that they had weakness on the outside. So I wanted to get in, take some players on and use the fresh legs to create some chances. I didn't realize how far out I was when I hit. Michelle Akers scores goals like that, not Shannon MacMillan."
U.S. coach April Heinrichs did not start midfielder Kristine Lilly, striker Tiffeny Milbrett or defender Brandi Chastain, but, trailing 1-0, inserted the three veteran starters after halftime, along with young forward Christy Welsh, while switching from a 4-4-2 formation to a 3-4-3.
With a forward line of Milbrett, Welsh and Mia Hamm, an with Lilly at the midfield flanks, the U.S. ran relentlessly at Denmark in search of the an equalizer.
The Americans fell victim to Denmark's offside trap six times before finding their stride. In the early part of the second half, Welsh forced Larsen to make a fine kick save while Hamm and Milbrett shot just wide.
"In the first half, we were too content to play backwards and square, and that allowed them to get settled behind the ball," Heinrichs said. "At halftime, we talked about our transition and getting forward much quicker. We came out and were spraying the ball all over the field and it was tough for Denmark to keep up with us."
The tying goal came in the 67th minute when Hamm found Milbrett open at the top of the penalty area on a corner kick, which Lilly had earned with a thundering run down the left side. Hamm played the ball on the ground to Milbrett, whose shot was deflected into in the air, before falling to Fair in the middle of the box. Falling to the ground, Fair's volleyed a 10-yarder into the right corner for her second international goal.
The U.S. thought it went ahead 2-1 seven minutes later, but Milbrett's follow-up of a rebound from Welsh's shot was ruled offside, a call questioned by the American bench.
The Americans had struggled in the first half against Denmark's 4-5-1 formation that put nine players behind the ball, setting up a tough bunker to penetrate.
Denmark took a 1-0 advantage in the eighth minute when striker Gitte Krogh scored on her team's first shot of the game. Larsen sent a long clearance into the teeth of the U.S. defense and the ball was headed into the U.S. defensive third. Krogh ran onto the bouncing ball, side-stepped a defender with a smooth touch and hit a looping volley from 18 yards out that flew over keeper Jen Branam, who was caught slightly off her line.
Striker Cindy Parlow, who scored three times in the Americans’ opening 7-1 rout of Portugal, saved the U.S. a 2-0 deficit in the 35th minute when she headed a shot off the American goal line after a corner kick. That marked Denmark's last quality chance.
"The United States really competed for the ball today," said U.S. assistant coach John Ellis. "We know our players are very skillful, but you've got to be able to deal with the physical aspect of the game, every game. We dealt with that in the second half and got the result. Denmark is a good defensive team, but they simply could not withstand the pressure we put on them in the second half and coming through like that is another step forward in our development as a team."
Nineteen-year-old defender Danielle Slaton contributed greatly at left back and earned her seventh cap for the U.S. As usual, captain Julie Foudy was the engine in the midfield, while Fair and defender Kate Sobrero won numerous air balls in the middle.
"I was very pleased with urgency and composure in the second half," Heinrichs said. "We created some great chances and scored two great goals."
United States 2, Denmark 1Lineups: United States - Jen Branam, Christie Pearce (Christy Welsh 46), Carla Overbeck (Brandi Chastain 46), Kate Sobrero, Danielle Slaton, Julie Foudy, Lorrie Fair, Tisha Venturini (Kristine Lilly 46), Sara Whalen (Shannon MacMillan 67), Cindy Parlow (Tiffeny Milbrett 46), Mia Hamm. Denmark - Lone Larsen, Malene Kristensen (Marianne Lovendorf 63), Lene Terp, Gitte Andersen, Mitzi Maller, Merete Pedersen (Nadia Kjeldaard 77), Janni Lund Johansen (Anne Ulnitz 90), Signe Andersen (Catrine Paske Sorensen 76), Lene Jensen (Dorte Dalum Jensen 83), Gitte Krogh, Merete Jokumsen).
Shots: United States 19, Denmark 4. Saves: United States 0, Denmark 4. Fouls: United States 5, Denmark 13. Corner kicks: United States 8, Denmark 4. Offside: United States 10, Denmark 1. Yellow card cautions: United States - Foudy 40; Denmark - Jokumsen 7, Terp 44, Kjeldgaard 78.
Referee: Ingrid Jonsson (Sweden). Referee assistants: Marie-Louise Svastrom (Sweden), Susanne Borg (Sweden). Attendance: 300 at San Luis Stadium in Faro, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, breezy, 78 degrees.