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Swedes knock off USA in shootout
by Paul Kennedy, March 12th, 2009 7AM
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[ALGARVE CUP] The USA's bid for a third straight Algarve Cup championship was thwarted when it fell to Sweden on penalty kicks in Wednesday's final after a 1-1 tie. The only other time in the last seven years the Americans failed to win the Portuguese tournament was in 2006 when they fell to Germany in a shootout.

Caroline Seger took advantage of an errant backpass by converted central defender Shannon Boxx and fed a wide-open Letta Schelin for the opening goal in the 14th minute.

It wasn't until the 90th minute that the USA equalized thanks to a Boxx's goal on a first-time shot at the far post off a cross from Megan Rapinoe.

Sweden had led the shootout in the fifth round but Schelin had her shot stopped by goalie Hope Solo. The Swedes incredibly missed their fourth, fifth and sixth kicks, giving late sub Angie Woznuk a chance to win it for the USA but Swedish goalie Kristin Hammarstrom pushed her shot away.

In the seventh round, Stine Segerstrom scored for Sweden, and Heather Mitts, playing her 100th game for the USA, cracked her shot off the left post.

U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said the final was a game of two halves.

"We struggled a little bit in the first half," she said. "Sweden, with Victoria Svensson and Lotta Schelin, gave us a hard time. But the back four did great, beside the goal that was just a giveaway. I think we struggled a little bit in midfield with defending, and then in the attack we got dispossessed too much, so I wasn't happy about the first half. In the second half, we changed the attitude a little bit, and used our runners up front to get behind the back line a little bit more.

"We played the ball a little bit faster. When we put Megan Rapinoe wide and played both A-Rod [Amy Rodriguez] and Tash [Natasha Kai] (up front), I thought that was pretty good. You could see some good flashes, especially when Boxx comes up into the midfield. We created some chances and got some rhythm in the game as well. I am very proud of the way we are coming back and scoring late goals. There is something to be said about that. But penalty kicks are penalty kicks and congratulations to Sweden."

A 43rd-minute goal from Julie Rydahl Bukh gave Denmark a 1-0 upset win against Germany in the third-place match.

March 11 Faro, Portugal
USA 1 Sweden 1. Goals: Boxx 90; Schelin 18.
USA -- Solo, Mitts, Boxx, Rampone, Buehler, O'Reilly (Woznuk, 88), Hucles (DiMartino, 83), Lloyd, Tarpley (Rodriguez, 46), Rapinoe, Kai.
Sweden -- Hammarstrom, Rohlin, Segerstrom, Paulson, Thunebro (Olander, 46), Seger (Sembrandt, 78), Sjogran (Fors, 63), Aslani (Edlund, 53),  Fischer (Dahlkvist, 37), Svensson (Linden, 71), Schelin.
Referee: Bibiana Steinhaus (Germany).
Att.: 1,200.


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