March 9, 2005
FERREIRAS, Portugal -
Using both grit and guile, and an excellent finish from forward Christie Welsh, the U.S. Women's National Team earned a quality 1-0 win over France to open the 2005 Algarve Cup.
The match marked several firsts as it was the USA's first match of 2005, the first game since the retirement of three legends in Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, and first match under interim head coach Greg Ryan.
On a frustratingly bumpy pitch and in gusting winds, the young U.S. team battled for 90 minutes and did extremely well to shutout a talented French team preparing for the 2005 European Championships and keep their star forward Marinette Pichon off the scoreboard.
In a much different match than the USA's 5-1 victory over France last year to open the Algarve Cup, the chances for both teams were few. The USA did not take its first shot until the 17th minute when forward Abby Wambach slid to meet a cross on the ground from Lindsay Tarpley, but the ball spun harmlessly into the hands of French goalkeeper Celine Deville.
Attacking midfielder Aly Wagner looked dangerous in the 20th minute as she received a quickly taken free kick and spun towards goal before unleashing a torrid drive just over the crossbar. Seconds later it would be the duo of Wagner and Welsh, who ironically are both playing club soccer for Olympique Lyonnais in France, that would combine on the winner.
The goal sequence saw Wagner collect a short pass from Wambach near the left corner of the penalty area and chip a pass into the middle of the box. It deflected off a French defender and Welsh did well to reach the bouncing ball first, hitting a spinning half volley with her left foot into the lower left corner from 12 yards out. It was Welsh's 14th career goal in 24 career matches.
The goal would prove to be enough as stifling U.S. team defense held the French without a shot in the first half, and just three after the break, two of which sailed straight into the hands of U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and one that flew high over the net.
Central defenders Kate Markgraf and Cat Reddick were phenomenal in winning head balls, especially when facing a stiff wind and booming punts from Deville in the first half.
Content to launch mostly ineffective long balls at the USA in the first half, France picked up their possession game in the second half and Sandrine Soubeyrand fired her side's first shot just two minutes after the break. France also managed to get off a couple of crosses from the flanks, but nothing too troubling for the 23-year-old Barnhart, who earned a shutout in her first match in goal for the full Women's National Team.
Twenty-one-year old Lori Chalupny played all 90 minutes at left back for the U.S., her first start in the defense at any level, and looked extremely comfortable, tackling hard all game and getting forward into the attack on several occasions. Heather Mitts was also nails at right back, once leveling her former WUSA teammate Pichon on a crunching tackle.
After seeing France start to gain some momentum, the USA switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation 15 minutes into the second half, as Kristine Lilly dropped to left midfield and Tarpley pushed out wide right. The USA then took back control of the match, earning five of its eight corner kicks in the second half. It was in the 77th minute off a corner that the Americans had perhaps their best chance of the second half as Lilly, who extended her mind-boggling world record for caps to 292, skidded the cross into the middle. The ball somehow slipped through to Wambach who fired a hard shot, only to see it skip of the leg of French defender at the six-yard line and loop just over the crossbar.
In the waning seconds of the game, substitute Heather O'Reilly, who provided an attacking spark off the bench after entering the game in the 64th minute, lifted a ball over the French defense for the sprinting Wambach. The U.S. forward beat Deville to the ball, nodding it by the French 'keeper with her head, but it bounced just outside the left post.
The U.S. team will face Finland on Friday, March 11, in its next Group B match (1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker) needing to make up two goals on Denmark, which scored three unanswered goals to defeat Finland, 4-1, and sits atop the group with the USA in second place.
In Group A which features four of the top six ranked teams in the world, Norway got off to a great start with a 2-1 win over China and Germany continued their mastery of Sweden, also winning, 2-1. In Group C, England routed Northern Ireland, 4-0, and Mexico came from a goal down to defeat host Portugal, 2-1.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. France
Competition: 2005 Algarve Cup - Group B
Venue: Estadio da Nora; Ferreiras, Portugal
Date: March 9, 2005; Kickoff - 4:15 p.m. Local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Weather: Windy, sunny - 62 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
FRA 0 0 0
USA - Christie Welsh (Aly Wagner) 20th minute.
USA: 1-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Markgraf, 11-Lori Chalupny; 5-Lindsay Tarpley (3-Lorrie Fair, 80), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner (8-Angela Hucles, 68); 19-Christie Welsh (9-Heather O'Reilly, 64), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly-Capt.
Subs not used: 6-Stephanie Lopez, 12-Amy Rodriguez, 14-Jill Oakes, 16-Kelly Wilson, 17-Lindsey Huie, 18-Hope Solo.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
FRA: 16-Céline Deville; 5-Corinne Diacre, 13-Sandrine Dusang, 4-Laura Georges, 3-Peggy Provost; 12-Camille Abily, 8-Sonia Bompastor - Capt., 7-Stephanie Mugneret-Beghe (15-Elise Bussaglia, 61), 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand; 18-Hoda Lattaf (11-Laetitia Tonazzi, 68), 9-Marinette Pichon.
Subs not used: 1-Sandrine Capy, 2-Sabrina Viguier, 10-Candie Herbert, 14-Ludivine Diguelman, 17-Marie-Ange Kramo, 19-Anne-Laure Casseleux, 20-Laure LePailleur.
Head Coach: Elisbeth Loisel
Shots: 10 3
Shots on Goal: 5 2
Saves: 2 4
Corner Kicks: 8 2
Fouls: 11 16
Offside: 2 1
Misconduct Summary: None
Referee: Dagmar Damkova (Czech Republic)
Assistant Referee: Hana Spackova (Czech Republic)
Assistant Referee: Brigitta Makkosne Petz (Hungary)
2005 Algarve Cup Standings
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
NOR 1 0 0 3 2 1 +1
GER 1 0 0 3 2 1 +1
SWE 0 1 0 0 1 2 -1
CHN 0 1 0 0 1 2 -1
Norway 2, China 1
Germany 2, Sweden 1
China PR v Sweden 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Germany v Norway 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
China PR v Germany 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Sweden v Norway 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
DEN 1 0 0 3 4 1 +3
USA 1 0 0 3 1 0 +1
FRA 0 1 0 0 0 1 -1
FIN 0 1 0 0 1 4 -3
Denmark 4, Finland 1
USA 1, France 0
USA v Finland 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Denmark v France 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
USA v Denmark 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Finland v France 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
ENG 1 0 0 3 4 0 +4
MEX 1 0 0 3 2 1 +1
POR 0 1 0 0 1 2 -1
NIR 0 1 0 0 0 4 -4
England 4, Northern Ireland 0
Mexico 2, Portugal 1
England v Portugal 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Mexico v Northern Ireland 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
England v Mexico 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Northern Ireland v Portugal 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Match for place 11th and 12th 10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 9th and 10th 10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 7th and 8th 10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 5th and 6th 3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Match for place 3rd and 4th 3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Championship 6 p.m. local / 1 p.m. ET