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MacMillan's first-half goal enough for 1-1 draw with Sweden to open Algarve Cup.

ALBUFEIRA, Portugal (Friday, March 1, 2002) -- Striker Shannon MacMillan staked the United States women to a one-goal advantage in the first half, but by the final whistle it was Sweden which had the better of the play and more quality scoring chances in a 1-1 draw before 150 fans who saw the Algarve Cup Group B opener for both nations at Municipal Stadium this afternoon.

While the U.S. outshot Sweden 16-12, the Europeans held a 8-6 edge in shots on goal and controlled possession for large portions of the match, applying pressure that led to a 10-7 margin in corner kicks. In fact, Sweden put more pressure on U.S. goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene in the second half than she saw in three full matches at the Four Nations Tournament in China in January.

Striker Victoria Svensson found net in the 63rd minute to give Sweden the tie.

"We did enough to win the game," U.S. head coach April Heinrichs said. "We started off much better than we did at the tournament in China, but we always take a tie as a loss and that's what separates us from the rest of the world -- our standards are higher. But we also always build on the positives. The defense played very well and we strung some passes together to create some very good chances."

In the other Group B match, Norway defeated a gritty England side 3-1. The U.S. faces England Sunday in Ferreiras, Portugal.

In Group A, Germany handled Denmark 3-0 and China hammered Finland 4-1. In Group C, Canada used three goals from Andrea Neil to blank Scotland and Wales won its first-ever Algarve Cup match, beating Portugal, 1-0.

The U.S. had the first chance of the game in the eighth minute when fellow forward Cindy Parlow played MacMillan down the right wing. MacMillan managed to get a step ahead of her defender, but sliced her shot wide left of the goal after a long run.

Sweden's best chance of the first half was a header from captain Malin Mostrom that bounced just wide left of the goal in the 15th minute.

While Sweden controlled most of the first 30 minutes as the U.S. team lacked sharpness on the ball, it was the Americans who struck first with a quick counterattack. Parlow was the catalyst, shaking free of a defender at midfield before chipping a pass over the defense to striker Tiffeny Milbrett who cut to goal inside the penalty area before playing a square ball into the middle to MacMillan. In full stride, MacMillan knocked the ball home from eight yards for a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute, just before she was hammered by a Swedish defender.

The U.S. momentum carried until intermission with numerous other chances. In the 40th minute, midfielder Kristine Lilly floated a beautiful weak-side pass to MacMillan in the right side of the penalty area, but Swedish goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson cut down the angle and smothered MacMillan’s drive.

Sweden almost tied the game against the run of play just before halftime, but Hanna Ljungberg shot wide right from 14 yards out.

The second half belonged to Sweden which recorded all eight of its shots on goal in a sharp 45 minutes. Controlling the midfield through Mostrom, the Swedes forced Beene to make all of seven of her saves, plus several catches in traffic.

While Sweden perhaps deserved to score, its one goal was a gift, the product of miscommunication between defender Joy Fawcett and Beene. Their hesitation as to who should play a long through ball allowed Svensson to sneak in, gather possession and roll a shot into an open goal from 30 yards out for a 1-1 tie in the 63rd minute.

"I don't remember a game with this team that I didn't expect to win," Beene said. "I thought we had the better of the chances and it was a bit of a heartbreaker to give up a goal like that."

Seventeen-year-old forward Heather O'Reilly, a high school junior, earned her first cap for the full national team, coming on in the 61st minute and immediately springing Milbrett free behind the defense with a nifty pass. Milbrett hit her shot well, but once again Jonsson mastery of the angles made her save that much easier.

Sweden had a chance to get a second goal soon after when a turnover in the midfield set Svensson free on a breakaway, but U.S. defender Danielle Slaton saved the day with a desperate lunge, deflecting the ball away for a corner kick.

Parlow played a fine match for the U.S., keeping possession well, winning air balls and taking on defenders, but it was Milbrett who had the last gasp at a winner, running onto a looping Swedish clearance in the 88th minute and striking a volley from 16 yards out that Jonsson turned away with a dive to her left.

The last time the two countries met, Sweden defeated the U.S. 2-0 for the Algarve championship. This marks the first time the Swedes had gone two game without a loss to the Americans.

United States 1, Sweden 1

Lineups: United States - LaKeysia Beene, Danielle Slaton, Cat Reddick, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero (Kylie Bivens 61), Julie Foudy (captain), Lorrie Fair (Aly Wagner 81), Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett, Cindy Parlow, Shannon MacMillan (Heather O'Reilly 61). Sweden - Caroline Jonsson, Kristin Bengtsson, Karolina Westberg, Hanna Marklund, Sara Larsson, Anna Sjostrom (Frida Nordin 89), Malin Mostrom (captain), Malin Andersson (Linda Fagerstrom 46), Therese Sjogran, Victoria Svensson (Therese Lundin 88), Hanna Ljungberg (Elin Flyborg 63).

United States - MacMillan (Milbrett) 31.
Sweden - Svensson (unassisted) 63.

Shots: United States 16, Sweden 12. Shots on goal: United States 6, Sweden 8. Saves: United States 7, Sweden 5. Corner kicks: United States 8, Sweden 10. Fouls:: United States 8, Sweden 14. Offside: United States 4, Sweden 4.

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland). Assistant referees: Eivor Lehtiheimo (Finland), Jose Lamy (Portugal). Attendance: 150 at Municipal Stadium in Albufeira, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, breezy, 72 degrees.

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