Wagner's late goal salvages 1-1 draw with Canada to open Algarve Cup.
OLHÃO, Portugal (Friday, March 14, 2003) -- Reserve midfielder Aly Wagner's unassisted goal in the 85th minute lifted the United States to a 1-1 draw with Canada in the Algarve Cup opener for both nations before 350 at Jose Arcanjo Stadium this afternoon.
"We always feel that if there is time on the clock, we have a chance to win, regardless the score," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "I was pleased to see the team stick with it and we got better during the course of the game. We created enough chances to win, and while I'm not pleased that we didn't win, a point will help us with advancement."
Sweden and Norway also played a 1-1 draw leaving all four Group A sides with 1-1 records.
The U.S. next faces Norway Sunday in Ferreiras, Portugal.
Striker Mia Hamm's dangerous right-side corner kick led to Wagner's equalizer. Her ball bounced around in the penalty area before a Canadian slid to clear it. The ball went directly to Wagner who was standing just to the left of the penalty arc. She used one touch to settle the ball and a second to drill a 22-yarder into the top left corner past goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc for a 1-1 tie with five minutes left on the clock.
"It was exciting to get back on the board and know that we could win the game," said Wagner, who how has nine international goals. "I felt like the momentum was changing and were going to put another one in."
Canada took the early lead, scoring in the seventh minute off a midfielder Kristina Kriss' curling left-side corner kick to the near post. The ball was flicked into a scramble in front of the net with midfielder Randee Hermus knocking it across the goal line to make it 1-0.
Canada did not produce another dangerous chance in the first half with the Americans not doing much better. In the 15th minute, Hamm stripped LeBlanc as she was trying to clear a bouncing ball in the penalty area. Hamm carried around LeBlanc and played a short pass to fellow forward Tiffeny Milbrett in the left side box. Milbrett's shot was deflected by midfielder Lindsay Tarpley and was headed for net before it was cleared off the line by a defender.
It was the first of numerous times the U.S. caught LeBlanc out of position, only to find Canadian defenders covering.
"That was a 90-minute heading exercise and that's better than any drill we could do in practice to help ourselves get better," Heinrichs said. "I think after that game, we are better in the air, we're tougher, we're more organized and each of our players knows what the highest level of heading presence is. That will be good for us in the next game because Norway plays very similarly and I think we will get better during the course of the tournament."
Seconds into the second half, Hamm again beat LeBlanc to a ball, but her touch sent her to a difficult angle. Pivoting, Hamm chipped her shot over the bar from 18 yards.
Cindy Parlow came on at halftime and the U.S. went to a three-forward alignment. The 5-foot-11 striker made a big difference in the U.S. attack, battling for air balls, keeping possession with her back to the goal and trying to slip passes behind the Canadian back line.
It was Parlow that sprang Hamm for a great chance in the 54th minute, putting her free behind the defense in the right side of the box. Hamm struck her shot well, but LeBlanc dove to knock the ball away.
"I should have put that away," Hamm said. "I'm out there and that's my job to try to help my team with the opportunities that I have, but you have to give credit to Karina. That was a big save. She was playing aggressive off her line and she came up big, but I have to do better with that."
Canada, using an offense relied on sending long balls into the box, managed only one shot in the second half. For the game, the Americans held a 13-6 shots advantage, 7-3 on frame.
"They are athletic, combative, and what you can't do with Canada is get into a battle of 50-50 balls," Hamm said. "Their mentality is to run through everything and that can overwhelm you sometimes. There's definitely a physical commitment to their team. It's one of their strengths, but you have to play through it and just get the ball on the ground. When we were able to do that, that's when we were able to knock the ball around."
Heinrichs started Brian Scurry in goal and replaced her with Siri Mullinix the second 45 minutes.
In the other Group A match, Dagny Mellgren scored with a first-half header for Norway, but Hanna Llungberg equalized for Sweden on a header of her own in the second half.
In Group B, France dominated Denmark 3-0 with Women's United Soccer Association "Most Valuable Player" Marinette Pinchon scoring twice. China was shocked by being held to a 0-0 draw by Finland.
In Group C, Wales tied Portugal, 1-1, and Ireland drew with Greece 0-0.
United States 1, Canada 1
Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry (Siri Mullinix 46), Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain, Kate Sobrero (Cat Reddick 66), Julie Foudy (captain), Lindsay Tarpley (Aly Wagner 60), Kristine Lilly, Angela Hucles (Cindy Parlow 46), Tiffeny Milbrett (Heather O'Reilly 73), Mia Hamm. Canada Karina LeBlanc, Randee Hermus, Breanna Boyd, Sharolta Nonen, Brittany Timko, Andrea Neil, Kristina Kiss (Candace Chapman 84), Kara Lang, Christine Sinclair, Charmaine Hooper (captain), Christine Latham (Carmelina Moscato 91+).
Shots: United States 13, Canada 6. Shots on goal: United States 7, Canada 3. Saves: United States 3, Canada 5. Corner kicks: United States 6, Canada 1. Fouls: United States 11, Canada 16. Offside: United States 0, Canada 8.
Referee: Antonia Kokotou (Greece). Assistant referees: Margariti Chrysoula (Greece), Sofia Gryllaki (Greece). Attendance: 350 at Jose Arcanjo Stadium in Olhão, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, warm, light breeze, 78 degrees.