LAGOS, Portugal - Alex Morgan scored a goal in the second half to earn the U.S. Women's National Team a 1-1 tie against Sweden Monday and a berth in the 2013 Algarve Cup championship game. Former UNC goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris started the game and went the whole 90 minutes. She thus became the 52nd UNC player to earn a cap with the U.S. National Team since its founding in 1986.
Three Tar Heels - Harris, Heather O'Reilly and Tobin Heath - earned starts in the match and two more - Whitney Engen and Yael Averbuch - came on as reserves. O'Reilly was named the Budweiser Woman of the Match, the second time in three games in the Algarve Cup she has been so honored.
With the tie, the USA advanced to its 10th Algarve Cup Final in the past 11 years and will face Group A champion Germany on March 13 with a kickoff and venue to be announced. Fans will be able to watch the clash for the Algarve Cup on TV or online via Pay-Per-View and follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_WNT.
The USA finished first in the Group B with seven points from three matches, followed by Sweden with five points, China with four points and Iceland with zero points. China defeated Iceland, 1-0, in the other Group B match.
It was the first match the United States has played against Sweden since former U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage took over her native country. Sweden will face Norway, a 2-0 loser to Germany in Group A match, for third place.
Ashlyn Harris, the USA's starting goalkeeper at the 2002 and 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup tournaments, earned her first-career cap at the senior level and played well despite giving up an early goal.
Sweden got off to that fast start with a wonder striker from Lisa Dahlkvist in the fourth minute. The goal came after Sweden's star striker Lotta Schelin chased down a ball over the top and Harris was quick off her line to clear for what the U.S. team thought was out of danger.
But with Harris scrambling back to her net, Dahlkvist ran onto the ball and hit a superb first-time strike, blasting the ball into the top corner from a full 40 yards out.
The teams traded scoring opportunities throughout a spirited first half. Wambach headed wide with her first chance in the eighth minute while at the other end Boxx executed a vital challenge on Caroline Seger to block a shot at the top of the penalty area.
The U.S. did its best to unlock a stout Sweden defense, but the hosts of the 2013 European Women's Championships played as physical as they ever have. In the 18th minute, Megan Rapinoe took a nice touch to round her defender, before firing a shot from distance - well within her considerable range - that skimmed just wide from 20 yards.
Sweden meanwhile was a constant threat to launch counterattacks. The dangerous Schelin was the focal point of the attack and she nearly latched on to another ball over the top in the 29th minute before firing right at Harris with a shot from 16 yards in the 38th minute.
Kelley O'Hara had a nice chance at the end of the half when she went on a swashbuckling run from her left back position, cutting inside and beating two defenders before striking a right-footed shot just past the left post.
The USA closed out the first half the better of the two sides, but still with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni's team started the second half as it finished the first, putting Sweden on its heels and finding the breakthrough goal in the 56th minute.
It came off a corner kick from the left side as Rapinoe whipped in a dangerous in-swinger. Morgan lost her mark in front of the Swedish goalkeeper and the U.S. forward was quickest to react, getting her head to the ball and powering home her first goal of the year to bring the U.S. level.
The WNT was firmly the better side now and went in search of the victory against their former coach. Wambach went close in the 57th minute, sliding to meet Rapinoe's curling cross but sending it just wide from seven yards.
Heather O'Reilly, who menaced Sweden with hard work all game, had a trademark thundering run in the 60th minute, scampering past the Sweden defense down the left side and curling a shot toward the right corner of the goal. Sweden goalkeeper Kristin Hammarstrom punched it clear and Morgan's follow up was blocked well by a defender.
Sweden was still dangerous on the break but failed to really test Harris in the U.S. net. Emma Berglund had two rapid fire chances in the 69th minute. The first was knocked down by Rampone and the second was fired miles over the goal by the Swedish defender.
As the USA worked hard to preserve the draw and the berth to the title game, central defender Becky Sauerbrunn snuffed out an end-to-end counterattack well in the 80th minute by getting back into the six-yard box to make a vital clearance.
The USA would fashion two more chances before the final whistle. Morgan blazed a shot over the goal in the 86th minute and Rapinoe forced a nice save from Hammarstrom in the 88th with the Sweden goalkeeper diving low to her right to keep out a sizzling strike.
The Algarve Cup is being distributed in the United States by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, Avail-TVN, DIRECTV and DISH for a suggested retail price of only $14.95 per match. Additional same day replays will be available. Check with your Pay-Per-View provider for replay times. Fans can visit Integratedsportsnet.com for updates on TV coverage.
Fans can also watch the matches online via Pay-Per-View. For web streaming information go to http://www.ustream.tv/integratedsportsppv. Fans can also follow the match via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
- The USA advance to its 13th Algarve Cup Final in 18 years of competing in this tournament. The USA has won eight Algarve Cup titles overall, winning in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
- The USA lost in the Algarve Final in 1994 (to Denmark in penalties), 1999 (to China), 2006 (to Germany in penalty kicks) and in 2009 (to Sweden in penalties).
- The USA improved its unbeaten streak to 28 games, with the last loss coming against Japan on March 5 at the 2012 Algarve Cup in Portugal. During that span, the U.S. has scored 89 goals while allowing 21 in 24 wins and four draws.
- The match in the Algarve Cup Final against Germany becomes a first leg of sorts as the two sides will also meet each other in the following game for both teams, a friendly match on April 5 in Offenbach, Germany.
- Tobin Heath, usually a flank midfielder, started the game in the middle at attacking midfield as Carli Lloyd was held out due to a shoulder injury.
- The USA's nine goals in the Algarve Cup have been scored by nine different players.
U.S. Women's National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Sweden
Date: March 11, 2013
Competition: 2013 Algarve Cup
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Lagos, Portugal
Kickoff: 3 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET
Weather: 59 degrees, cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
SWE 1 0 1
SWE - Lisa Dahlkvist 4th minute
USA - Alex Morgan (Megan Rapinoe) 56
USA : 24-Ashlyn Harris; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 5-Kelley O'Hara; 9-Heather O'Reilly (23-Christen Press, 80), 7-Shannon Boxx (14-Whitney Engen, 85), 17-Tobin Heath (16-Yael Averbuch, 72), 15-Megan Rapinoe; 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach (2-Sydney Leroux, 72) Substitutions Not Used: 6-Crystal Dunn, 8-Kristie Mewis, 10-Carli Lloyd, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 19-Rachel Buehler; 22-Lindsey Horan Head coach: Tom Sermanni
SWE: 12-Kristin Hammarstrom; 3-Emma Berglund (4-Annica Svensson, 69), 5-Nilla Fischer, 6-Sara Thunebro, 13-Lina Nilsson (18-Jessica Samuelsson, 62); 7-Lisa Dahlkvist (23-Hanna Folkesson, 74), 11-Antonia Goransson, 14-Johanna Almgren (15-Emmelie Konradssson, 46), 17-Caroline Seger; 8-Lotta Schelin (22-Olivia Schough, 79), 9-Kosovare Asllani (10-Sofia Jakobsson, 62) Substitutions Not Used: 1-Carola Soberg, 2-Malin Levenstad, 16-Carina Holmberg, 19-Susanne Moberg, 20-Marie Hammarstrom, 21-Sofia Lundgren Head coach: Pia Sundhage
USA / SWE
Shots: 18 / 5
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 8 / 16
Offside: 5 / 8
SWE -- Lina Nilsson (caution) 52nd minute
Officials: Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI) Assistant Referee 1: Ella De Vries (BEL) Assistant Referee 2: Manuela Nicolosi (FRA) Fourth Official: Teodora Albon (ROU)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Heather O'Reilly