March 21, 2003

U.S. Women Defeat China, 2-0, To Win Algarve Cup Title

LOULÉ, Portugal, March 20, 2003 - Two goals in a four-minute span of the second half by San Diego Spirit star Shannon MacMillan and Mia Hamm, each assisted by the other, gave the U.S. Women’s National Team a 2-0 victory over China in the championship of the 2003 Algarve Cup.The win marked the second time the USA has won this prestigious tournament, considered the world’s most competitive women’s international event outside of the Women’s World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championships. The USA also won in 2000, giving U.S. head coach April Heinrichs two Algarve Cup titles.

“Tonight’s performance from start to finish was phenomenal,” said Heinrichs. “Every player was tied into our tactical scheme and was committed to playing the way the coaching staff asked them to play. Every player was allowed to be a personality within our system and they absolutely stepped up. We played a different system, and we wanted to sit back in a low-pressure style and explode out of that.”

After a first half in which the USA took five shots, and China had just one, the Americans blew the game open just minutes into the second half, and Hamm was at the heart of both goals. Center midfielder Aly Wagner was having trouble finding space to spray passes in the first half, but found more room in the second, and it paid off in the 53rd minute when she sprang Hamm behind the Chinese defense. Hamm headed the bouncing ball down to herself then accelerated into the penalty area for a one-on-one with Chinese goalkeeper Zhao Yan. The world’s all-time leading scorer tried to bend the ball around Zhao, but she got a piece of it. Not enough as it turned out, as the ball spun behind the Chinese ‘keeper and toward the goal. MacMillan was following the play and thundered into the goalmouth to slam the ball home from just one yard out, tumbling into the net in a cloud of dirt. It was her 54th international goal.

The U.S. scored its second just three minutes later as MacMillan returned the favor, slipping a great pass to the cutting Hamm in the right side of the penalty area. Hamm shot from 16 yards across the goalkeeper to the far post, and Zhao got a piece of this one too, but couldn’t keep it out of the net as it bounced, hit the left post and caromed in.

Fawcett, Foudy, MacMillan and Wagner will join the Spirit on their two-game, five-day preseason road trip beginning Tuesday, March 25. San Diego will go to Houston to play the Atlanta Beat on Wednesday, March 26 and Tempe, Arizona to face Arizona State University on March 29.

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