U.S. SOCCER: Americans top China to win Algarve Cup

Shannon MacMillan and Mia Hamm scored goals four minutes apart and the U.S. women's national team captured the Algarve Cup title for the second time with a 2-0 triumph over China Thursday at Loule, Portugal.

MacMillan scored from a rebounded shot in the 52nd minute and Hamm tallied from a MacMillan feed in the 56th to give the Americans their second tournament championship of the year, to go with a Four Nations title won in China in January.

The U.S. women, playing in a 4-5-1 formation with Hamm the lone striker and MacMillan and Kristine Lilly attacking from the flanks, controlled an uncharacteristically direct Chinese team on a bumpy field in the 10th Algarve Cup final. The Americans, making their eighth Algarve appearance, also won the title in 2000.

Following a tight first 45 minutes, the Americans quickly took charge in the first 11 minutes of the second half.

They broke a scoreless tie after playmaker Aly Wagner played a ball over the Chinese defense for Hamm to run onto. Hamm took the ball into the box and tried to bend it around Chinese goalkeeper Zhao Yan, who got a piece of the shot. The ball spun behind Zhao, and MacMillan -- following the play -- slammed it home from a yard out.

Hamm made it 2-0 four minutes later, cutting on the right side of the penalty area to receive a fine pass from MacMillan, then firing off Zhao and inside the far post. The goal was Hamm's 138th in international play.

Norway finished third in the premier event leading to next fall's Women's World Cup, beating France, 1-0, on Dagny Mellgren's third goal of the tournament. Sweden hammered Finland, 5-0, in the fifth-place game. Canada placed seventh after routing Greece, 7-1, as Christine Sinclair had a hat trick. Denmark edged Portugal, 1-0, for ninth. Ireland overcame Wales on penalty kicks in the 11th-place game.

Sweden's Hanna Ljungberg was the tournament's top scorer with four goals. China's Liu Ying was selected the best player, and Norway's Astrid Johannessen was chosen the best goalkeeper.


March 14 in Olhao USA 1 Canada 1. Goals: Wagner 85; Hermus 7. USA -- Scurry (Mullinix, 46), Pearce, Fawcett, Chastain, Sobrero (Reddick, 66), Foudy, Tarpley (Wagner, 60), Lilly, Hucles (Parlow, 46), Milbrett O'Reilly, 73), Hamm. Canada -- LeBlanc, Hermus, Boyd, Nonen, Timko, Neil, Kiss (Chapman, 84), Lang, Sinclair, Hooper, Latham (Moscato, 91+). Att.: 350.

March 16 in Ferreiras USA 1 Norway 0. Goal: MacMillan 4. USA -- Scurry, Pearce (Reddick, 46), Fawcett, Chastain, Sobrero (Slaton, 80), Fair (Hucles, 46), Foudy, Wagner, Lilly, Hamm, MacMillan (O'Reilly, 73). Norway -- Hjelmseth (Johannessen, 61), Sandaune (Christensen, 84), Knudsen, Paulsen, Stangeland, Riise (Edner, 68), Klaveness, Gulbrandsen, Rapp, Lehn (Ronning, 75), Mellgren. Att.: 300.

March 18 in Vila Real San Antonio USA 1 Sweden 1. Goals: Wagner 18; Ljungberg 78. USA -- Mullinix, Pearce, Fawcett, Chastain (Reddick, 46), Sobrero, Roberts, Foudy, Lilly (Tarpley, 46), Wagner (Hucles, 75), Hamm (MacMillan, 46), Milbrett (Parlow, 16). Sweden -- Jonsson, Westberg, Tornqvist, Marklund (Bengtsson, 57), Larsson (Olsson, 90), Mostrom, Andersson, Fagerstrom (Nordin, 76), Sjogran (Sjostrom, 46), Svensson (Oqvist, 46), Ljungberg. Att.: 300.

March 20 in Loule USA 2 China 0. Goals: MacMillan 52, Hamm 56. USA -- Scurry, Reddick, Fawcett, Chastain, Sobrero, Fair, Foudy, Lilly (O'Reilly, 73), Wagner (Hucles, 66), MacMillan (Roberts, 76), Hamm. China -- Zhao Yan, Sun Rui, Li, Zhou (Chen, 66), Liu Yali, Zhao (Han Duan, 66), Pu, Ren (Zhang, 57), Liu Ying, Sun Wen (Teng, 88), Bai. Att.: 1,000.

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