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Second-half tallies by MacMillan, Wilson are good for 2-0 victory over England, a prelude to Algarve Cup showdown with Norway.

FERRIERAS, Portugal (Sunday, March 3, 2002) -- Shannon MacMillan scored for the second straight match and 19-year-old Kelly Wilson found net in her first game ever for the United States women who used the second-half tallies to edge past England 2-0 before 500 who watched the Algarve Cup Group B meeting at Ferreiras Stadium this afternoon.

The U.S. (1-0-1) closes group play Tuesday against Norway (1-0-1) with the winner advancing to the championship game of the 12-nation tournament. In the event of a tie, the U.S. will eliminated from title contention, but the Norwegians could still play for the crown following today’s wild 3-3 draw with Sweden (0-0-2).

Norway is the only nation to hold a winning record against the U.S women at 17-13-2 and the Americans have dropped three straight games to the Norwegians since winning 2-0 in the first round of the 2000 Summer Olympics. The losing streak to Norway began in the Olympic gold medal match. "We're psyched to play Norway again," MacMillan said. "We always know that the game will push both teams to their highest levels. We just have to take care of our bodies tomorrow, get as much rest as possible and get ready to go to war for 90 minutes."

Earning a shot at the championship game wasn't easy for the Americans who eventually wore down a young English side. What England (0-2) lacked in talent, it made up for in effort as the U.S. needed a third of the second half before finally taking the lead.

"What's exciting about England is that they have invested a lot in their women and you can see the difference," said U.S. coach April Heinrichs. "You can tell these players have played together. They set the ball and hit long balls with purpose and off they go. They are running under the ball and making things happen and it's tough to defend against."

The U.S. finally took a 1-0 lead in the 59th minute when midfielder Aly Wagner, who had two assists, played a perfect through ball that put MacMillan free behind defense. The U.S. striker had plenty of time to settle herself before hammering her shot under goalkeeper Leanne Hall and into the left corner from 15 yards out for her 41st international tally..

"I am very pleased with our 90 minutes in terms of our possession," Heinrichs said. "We got around the right, we got around the left and we got our backs, midfielders and forwards behind their defense. We created chances and we turned England pretty much at will, but finishing is still a part of our game we need to improve."

The U.S. outshot England 14-5, but ony 6-1 on frame.

England ran hard for 90 minutes, but its game deteriorated under the U.S. pressure, increasingly relying on a steady diet of long balls in the second half, the majority of which were won strongly by U.S. backs Joy Fawcett, Cat Reddick and Danielle Slaton, who was replaced in the 60th minute by Kate Sobrero.

With 15 minutes left, Wagner sliced a pass through the English defense, springing Wilson on a breakaway. The University of Texas freshman dribbled at the English goalkeeper, faked left and then tucked a shot under Hall to make it 2-0.

"I was hoping to get into the game today, and if the opportunity came, I felt confident that I could contribute," said Wilson, a veteran of the U.S. under-19 team who replaced Danielle Fotopoulos at the break. "Aly played me an awesome ball and all I had to do was beat the goalkeeper."

The Americans did serve numerous dangerous crosses from the right flank in front of the English net, but in a first half spent almost entirely on England's defensive end, the U.S. could not turn offensive superiority into chances, managing only four good ones, three from MacMillan.

Heinrichs started Wagner in the middle of a 3-4-3 formation and the Santa Clara University junior responded with a strong effort. In the eighth minute, Wagner lifted ball over defense to MacMillan who took a great touch to control, but struck her skidding shot wide left. In the 38th minute, MacMillan collected a pass about 10 yards above the penalty area on the left side and turned hard toward the middle, losing two defenders as she shifted gears, but her drive swerved just wide right of the upper corner.

In the 43rd minute, MacMillan pounced on a rolling ball in the penalty area after a scramble, but launched her shot out of the small stadium from 16 yards out.

England's one shot on goal came early, but U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo extended fully to scoop the close-range shot at her right post.

The U.S. almost took the lead in the final minute of the first half, but Wagner's header off a corner kick skipped off the top of the crossbar.

With captain Julie Foudy putting in 90 minutes of hard labor at defensive midfield, Wagner controlled the tempo of the game and was at the fulcrum of many U.S. attacks, especially after the U.S. team finally caught a rhythm at the end of the match, keeping England on its heels for the last 20 minutes.

The U.S. team needed a third goal to nudge ahead of Norway on goal differential in the standings, but despite several good chances, could not get another. In the 82nd minute, striker Tiffeny Milbrett, who was a menace all match, raced down left flank with a defender on her hip, but rolled her shot across the face of the goal.

In the 84th minute, 17-year-old Heather O'Reilly, who played a solid 20 minutes after coming on for MacMillan, got behind defense in the right side of the penalty area and had Milbrett open in the middle, but hesitated and had the ball tackled away.

"I'm thrilled about both Kelly Wilson and Heather O'Reilly," Heinrichs said. "Kelly and Heather gave us fresh legs and really injected some spark into the attack. I think our team looks at them like these young kids who play their roles, but also as kids that can play with us."

Heinrichs rested Cindy Parlow who is nursing a mild back strain, but the 5-11 striker should be ready to go against Norway on Tuesday.

In Group A, China placed itself in prime position for a berth in the final with a convincing 4-2 victory over Germany. Denmark defeated Finland 2-0.

In Group C, Canada pounded Wales 4-1 while Scotland edged Portugal 2-1.

United States 2, England 0

Lineups: United States - Hope Solo, Danielle Slaton (Kate Sobrero 60), Joy Fawcett, Cat Reddick, Julie Foudy (captain), Aly Wagner, Kristine Lilly, Lorrie Fair (Kylie Bivens 46), Tiffeny Milbrett (Devvyn Hawkins 88), Danielle Fotopoulos (Kelly Wilson 46), Shannon MacMillan (Heather O'Reilly 70). England - Rachel Brown (Leane Hall 46), Rachel McArthur (Mary Phillip 86), Julie Fletcher (Rachel Unitt 69), Faye White, Katie Chapman, Vicky Exley (Carly Hunt 86), Karen Burke, Fara Williams (Samantha Britton 64), Rachel Yankey, Angela Banks, Karen Walker (captain).


United States - MacMillan (Wagner) 59.
United States - Wilson (Wagner) 75.

Shots: United States 14, England 5. Shots on goal: United States 6, England 1 Saves: United States 1, England 3. Corner kicks: United States 14, England 4. Fouls: United States 4, England 4. Offside: United States 4, England 2. Yellow card cautions: United States - Bivens 92+; England - Unitt 71.

Referee: Jill Proctor (Canada). Assistant referees: Hanne Brund (Denmark), Jose Lamy (Portugal). Attendance: 500 at Ferreiras (Portugal) Stadium. Weather: Cloudy, windy, 65 degrees.

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