March 15, 2005
FARO, Portugal -
Forward Christie Welsh and former Santa Clara All-American Aly Wagner connected an a 23rd minute goal and the U.S. Women's National Team put together a stellar defensive performance to defeat Germany 1-0 and win the 12th Annual Algarve Cup.
The match marked a U.S. victory over the top-ranked team in the FIFA Women's World Rankings as the two women's soccer powers met in a tournament final for the first time. It was the third Algarve Cup championship in a row for the U.S. team, and fourth overall, but the first time in 10 trips to this tournament that the USA had achieved the remarkable feat of going all four games without allowing a goal.
On a chilly night at the world-class Stadium Algarve, the USA put together an impressive attacking first half and then held the talented Germans at bay in the second to earn a fantastic win for this young U.S. team.
Both teams played in 4-4-2 formations with 5-foot-11 Abby Wambach and the 5-foot-10 Welsh up top for the USA while Germany went with two-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year Birgit Prinz and rising young star Anja Mittag at forward.
Germany had the USA on its heels for the first 15 minutes before the Americans settled down and got used to the blistering pace of the match, but Prinz had her team's best chance of the first half in the 16th minute when she broke through the U.S. defense on what was really her only dangerous shot of the match. In came off a counter attack as the bulldozing Prinz raced through a seem in the back line, only to smack her shot just wide right of the post from the top of the penalty area as Kate Markgraf and Lori Chalupny closed on her.
The USA took its first shot in the 18th minute as Wambach wriggled free on the right side of box and struck a dipping left-footed blast to the near post that German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg did well to catch.
The USA tallied five minutes later through a magical ball from midfielder Aly Wagner. Wagner had been struggling to connect on a final pass against the ultra-organized German back line in the first 20 minutes, but her 40-yard cross-field ball to Welsh was magnificent, dropping right over the head of defender Ariane Hingst and into the path of the streaking Welsh. The U.S. forward brought it down perfectly with her first touch and then unleashed a shot from just inside the penalty area with her second. Rottenberg kicked saved the first shot, but it rolled perfectly back to Welsh who stuffed the rebound into the open net from 12 yards out. It was the fifth goal of the tournament for Welsh and won her the Algarve Cup scoring title. It was also the 18th international goal of her career.
The match was end-to-end in the first half, but after the goal, the USA picked up the pressure and produced some quality scoring chances.
In the 34th minute, the USA was awarded an indirect free kick just inside German penalty box after a German defender had raised her boot in Wambach's face while clearing a bouncing ball. Lilly touched it to Wagner, but her shot from 17 yards out hit the top of the tall German wall.
In the 36th minute, Lilly's pressure in the left side of the penalty area forced Hingst into a back pass to her goalkeeper, but she did not see Welsh lurking there and the U.S. striker ran onto the ball well before Rottenberg could get it, freezing the German 'keeper. From a poor angle, Welsh did not take the chance well, slapping it across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.
The second half saw Germany attack in waves, but the American defense held tight, amazingly allowing zero shots on goal after the break. Germany's speed of attack was remarkable as they threw everything at the USA in the final 30 minutes, whipping in numerous dangerous crosses from both flanks, but failing to find an open white jersey as a U.S. defender always seemed to be in the right place.
The USA's best chance in the second half came from 21-year-old midfielder Lindsay Tarpley, who almost finished a back-heel flick off a U.S. free kick from the left corner.
It was a Herculean effort over the 90 minutes for the U.S. defense, who covered for each other extremely well and always came up with a huge tackle when Germany seemed poised to break through.
It was a breakout tournament for U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who earned just her 15th cap in the Algarve Cup final, as she posted shutouts in the final three matches of the tournament. While the U.S. defense was stifling throughout the four games, Solo came up big when tested, and nothing was bigger than her solid grab of a tantalizing Germany cross in the waning moments.
Germany had equalized on the USA at 1-1 in the third minute of stoppage time during the last meeting between these two teams, but there would be no repeat of the 2004 Olympic semifinal drama. Germany's last gasp free kick from midfield in the third minute of stoppage time was headed away by Cat Reddick and the final whistle blew.
It was also a breakthrough tournament for 21-year-old Lori Chalupny, who started all four games and put in some stellar work at left back, especially in the final against towering German outside midfielder Kerstin Garefrakes, who stands a full eight inches taller than her. Chalupny played 332 minutes in this tournament after playing just 271 minutes previously during her full national team career.
In the other placement matches, France defeated Sweden, 3-2, in a seesaw battle for third place at the Stadium Algarve. Les Bleus got the late winner from Hoda Lattaf. Norway defeated Denmark, 2-1 for fifth place. Both the seventh and ninth place matches went to penalties with China and England tying 0-0 in regulation before China took the seventh spot on the spot kicks. Mexico finished a solid tournament for the Algarve Cup first-timers, tying Finland 1-1 in regulation before winning on their seventh penalty kick and placing ninth. Host Portugal picked up a big come-from-behind 3-1 win over Northern Ireland after losing to that same team in the final match of group play.
China won the Fair Play Award while Prinz picked up the tournament MVP. Norway's Bente Nordby was chosen as the tournament's top goalkeeper.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Germany
Competition: 2005 Algarve Cup - Championship Game
Venue: Estádio Algarve; Faro, Portugal
Date: March 15, 2005; Kickoff - 8:15 p.m. Local / 3:15 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, chilly - 62 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
GER 0 0 0
USA - Christie Welsh (Aly Wagner) 23rd minute.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Markgraf, 11-Lori Chalupny; 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner (8-Angela Hucles, 75), 13-Kristine Lilly-Capt.; 19-Christie Welsh (9-Heather O'Reilly, 83), 20-Abby Wambach.
Subs not used: 1-Nicole Barnhart, 3-Lorrie Fair, 6-Stephanie Lopez, 12-Amy Rodriguez, 14-Jill Oakes, 16-Kelly Wilson, 17-Lindsey Huie.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
GER: 1-Silke Rottenberg; 2-Kerstin Stegemann, 4-Steffi Jones, 5-Sarah Gunther (15-Sonja Fuss, 70), 17-Ariane Hingst; 10-Renate Lingor (20-Celia Okoyino de Mbabi, 86), 18-Kerstin Garefrekes, 3-Britta Carlson (6-Viola Odebrecht, 32) 16-Conny Pohlers (7-Pia Wunderlich, 83); 11-Anja Mittag (8-Sandra Smisek, 66), 9-Birgit Prinz.
Subs not used: 12-Nadine Angerer, 13-Sandra Minnert, 14-Annike Krahn, 19-Melanie Behringer
Head Coach: Tina-Thuene Meyer
Shots: 11 9
Shots on Goal: 3 2
Saves: 2 2
Corner Kicks: 0 2
Fouls: 8 7
Offside: 3 3
USA - Hope Solo (caution) 68th minute.
Referee: Florea Cristina Ionescu (Romania)
Assistant Referee: Irina Mirt (Romania)
Assistant Referee: Katarzyna Nadolska (Poland)
4th Official: Eun Ah Hong (Korea)
Match for place 11th and 12th Portugal 3, Northern Ireland 1
Match for place 9th and 10th Mexico 1, Finland 1 (Mexico wins on PKs)
Match for place 7th and 8th England 0, China 0 (China wins on PKs)
Match for place 5th and 6th Norway 2, Denmark 1
Match for place 3rd and 4th France 3, Sweden 2
Championship USA 1, Germany 0
Algarve Cup Final Standings:
12. N. Ireland
Top Scorer: Christie Welsh (USA)
Best Player: Birgit Prinz (Germany)
Best Goalkeeper: Bente Nordby (Norway)
Fair Play Award: China