After tying Sweden 1-1, Americans will play China for Algarve Cup crown.
VILA REAL SAN ANTONIO, Portugal (Tuesday, March 18, 2003) -- The United States will play China for the 10th Algarve Cup championship Thursday after this afternoon's hard-fought 1-1 draw with Sweden before 300 at Vila Real Sports Complex Stadium.
The U.S. finished first in Group A with a 1-0-2 record and five points, advancing to the title match for the fourth in eight visits. The Americans won this title in 2000 when defender Brandi Chastain's penalty kick defeated Norway 1-0 in the final. In the 1999 championship match, China defeated the U.S. 2-1
In the opener of today's doubleheader, Norway (1-1-1, 4 points) posted a 1-0 decision over Canada (0-1-2, 2). Sweden played three 1-1 draws for three points. In the six Group A matches, no nation scored more than one goal in a game with a total of 10 goals scored.
Midfielder Aly Wagner's second goal of the tournament gave the Americans a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. Striker Hanna Ljungberg provided Sweden the equalizer in the 78th minute.
"Annually, this is the best tournament in the world outside a world championship," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "This year, it's the best tournament we've played because of the demands of playing four games in seven days. Being in the group with these three teams, and coming out in first place and advancing to the final, is a tremendous achievement for this group of players. We'll now play four (2003) World Cup teams in seven days."
Sweden produced the first of the few quality chances of the match in the ninth minute. Ljungberg stripped Chastain in the back and raced in on a breakaway, but her chip shot over advancing goalkeeper Siri Mullinix also sailed over the crossbar.
Just as was the case with her goal in the opening 1-1 draw with Canada on Friday, the sequence to Wagner's goal started with a corner kick. This one, from the left side, was cleared by the Swedish defense but was headed back in by defender Christie Pearce from just above top of the penalty area. Sweden again headed the ball away, but the ball fell to Wagner to the left of the penalty arc. She struck a first-time volley with the laces of her right boot and theshot dipped into the lower right corner from 19 yards for her 10th international tally.
"I didn't want to hit it too hard," Wagner said. "It was one of those shots where you can miss big or hit it well, so I didn't want to swing too hard. Luckily, I hit it well and it found the back corner. I've never played in an Algarve final and I know the team is excited to get back into the game with a chance to win it."
Sweden had a territorial edge early, sending several dangerous crosses from the right flank before the U.S. regained some composure and possession. Both teams, playing their third match in five days, tired after intermission, but it was Sweden that pushed forward in an effort to equalize.
In the 78th minute, midfielder Malin Mostrom stole a ball from U.S. captain Julie Foudy and headed for goal before finding Ljungberg in right side of the penalty area. The diminutive striker took her shot well, slotting it past Mullinix into the lower right corner from 15 yards to make it 1-1. Ljunberg scored all three of Sweden's goals in this event.
"We play a high-energy game of soccer," Heinrichs said. "We send a lot of numbers forward, have a lot of players who take touches on the ball and make runs to get into the attack. When you send numbers like that, over the course of the tournament, it makes you very tired. When we don't have that energy, it's difficult to play the way we can."
The U.S. defense was again led by veteran center back Joy Fawcett. Sweden outshot the U.S. 8-7, but the Americans held a 3-2 advantage of shots on frame.
"Sweden is a great team and we have a lot of respect for them," Fawcett said. "They needed to win, played a high-pressure game and we struggled possessing the ball. We gave the ball up a lot and had to play a lot of defense, and defense can be tiring. Playing so many games with only a day of rest in between can be tough. We played three great teams in our group, but hopefully it was good preparation for the final."
Sweden sent numerous long balls sailing into the U.S. defensive third for the scrappy Ljungberg to chase down, but the American defense dominated in the air and Mullinix was quick coming off her line to cut off the service.
"Our team was surviving at times in the second half," Heinrichs said. "Surviving implies a big effort and great intensity, but we didn't have the legs and the mental concentration to do what we wanted to do. That hurt us in the second half a bit."
Norway and Canada, led by former Norwegian head coach Even Pellerud, played a physical match in the first game with a 39th-minute goal from Dagny Mellgren giving Norway a 1-0 win. Norway defender Monica Knudsen was ejected in the 70th minute, but Canada could not take advantage of having the extra player.
In Group B, France defeated Finland 1-0, forcing China to win its match, which it did 2-1 over Denmark, to advance to the final. Midfielder Sun Wen, who had come on in the 74th minute, netted the winning goal in stoppage time. A draw with Denmark would have sent France to the championship match.
In Group C, Greece downed Wales 2-0 to win the group. Portugal came from two goals down to defeat Ireland in dramatic fashion, 3-2.
In the other Thursday placement games, Norway faces France for third place, Sweden plays Finland for fifth place and Canada takes on Greece for seventh place. Denmark meets Portugal for ninth while Ireland and Wales play each other again for 11th place.
United States 1, Sweden 1
Lineups: United States - Siri Mullinix, Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain (Cat Reddick 46), Kate Sobrero, Tiffany Roberts, Julie Foudy (captain), Kristine Lilly (Lindsay Tarpley 46), Aly Wagner (Angela Hucles 75), Mia Hamm (Shannon MacMillan 46), Tiffeny Milbrett (Cindy Parlow 16). Sweden - Caroline Jonsson, Karolina Westberg, Jane Tornqvist, Hanna Marklund (Kristin Bengtsson 57), Sara Larsson (Salina Olsson 90), Malin Mostrom, Malin Andersson (captain), Linda Fagerstrom (Frida Nordin 76), Therese Sjogran (Anna Sjostrom 46), Victoria Svensson (Josefine Oqvist 46), Hanna Ljungberg.
Shots: United States 7, Sweden 8. Shots on goal: United States 3, Sweden 2. Saves: United States 1, Sweden 2. Corner kicks: United States 6, Sweden 0. Fouls: United States 12, Sweden 0. Offside: United States 2, Sweden 2.
Referee: Katriina Elovita (Finland). Assistant referees: Emilia Parviainen (Finland), Kirsi Savolainen (Finland). Attendance: 300 at Vila Real Sports Complex Stadium in Vila Real San Antonio, Portugal. Weather: Overcast, cold, light breeze, 58 degrees.