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Wambach and Kluegel find net for first time, Fawvett adds header as Americans roll over Finland 3-0; MacMillan streak comes to end.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (Saturday, April 27, 2002) -- Striker Abby Wambach and defender Jena Kluegel scored their first career international goals sandwiched around Joy Fawcett’s tally to lift the United States women to a 3-0 decision over overmatched Finland before 11,990 at Spartan Stadium tonight.
The Americans repeatedly got behind the Finnish defense, working the flanks to send numerous dangerous services in the penalty area. If not for solid games from Finland's goalkeeper's Johanna Lindell and Satu Kunnas, who both made point-blank stops, the margin of victory would have been much greater. Considering the Americans dominated the entire match and could attack with impunity since its net was never threatened, the goal production might seem measly.
The U.S. held a 33-3 shots margin over Finland which put only one attempt on frame.
"I was very, very pleased with our attacking ability," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "We have put a little bit of emphasis on it this week, and we didn't have a lot of training sessions, but some of our decisions in the attacking third were outstanding. They were dynamic, they were aggressive, they were explosive and really stretched Finland high and wide. I think our chances and the score don't really reflect the game."
In her first start and second appearance for the U.S. women, Wambach had a goal an also an assist. "Getting called into the national team is an honor in itself," she said. "I think when you get called in, you're asked to perform at a certain level. Today, among other days, I feel like I performed pretty well and hopefully it will give us a big boost going into (World Cup) qualifying later this year."
In the seventh minute, midfielder Kristine Lilly blew by her defender on the left flank, turned the corner at the end line and played a crisp pass a half-step behind Wambach. The 5-foot-10 forward collected the ball, spun toward goal and smacked a hard right-footed shot into the near corner from 10 yards to make it 1-0.
"That goal was phenomenal," Heinrichs said. "She just turns and strikes, and we see her confidence just skyrocket. You can't give confidence. You can't wish confidence. Players, I think erroneously, think that coaches can give them confidence, but at the end of the day it's earned."
In the 30th minute, Wambach's diving header from the right side of the penalty area was flicked into the net from point-blank range by a Fawcett header, her 25th international goal, for a 2-0 lead. Seconds earlier, Fawcett had banged a Shannon MacMillan corner kick off the underside of the crossbar.
In the 89th minute, Kluegel danced away from her defender in the left side of the penalty area with a splendid cut-back move to slam a shot into the roof of the goal from six yards out to increase the advantage to 3-0. It was the first goal of Kluegel's 18-game international career and started with a cross from midfielder Lorrie Fair, who had freed herself down the right flank.
U.S. starting goalkeeper LeKeysia Beene made history, becoming the first woman to play for her club and country on the same day. After going 90 minutes for the San Jose CyberRays in a 2-1 Women’s United Soccer Association loss to the Carolina Courage in the first game of the doubleheader, she went the first 76 minutes against Finland and made the one U.S. save required in the match. Hope Solo, 20, replaced Beene in goal in the 76th minute.
Although she uncorked four shots in the game, forward Shannon MacMillan's five-game goal-scoring streak for the U.S. women came to end. MacMillan has 11 goals in 2002, eight during the streak.
Boston Breakers midfielder Angela Hucles picked up her first international cap, playing the final 45 minutes and impressing the crowd with her strong presence on the ball and speed moving forward.
The U.S. women will not be together again until July. CONCACAF qualifying for the 2003 Women's World Cup will take place at the end of October and in early November at venues yet to be announced. The U.S. should have little competition beyond intense rival Canada in CONCACAF, the region that includes North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
United States 3, Finland 0
Lineups: United States - LaKeysia Beene (Hope Solo 76), Cat Reddick (Kylie Bivens 67), Joy Fawcett, Danielle Slaton, Brandi Chastain (Lorrie Fair 46), Aly Wagner, Kristine Lilly (Jena Kluegel 46), Julie Foudy (Angela Hucles 46), Tiffeny Milbrett (Mandy Clemens 60), Abby Wambach (Christie Welsh 75), Shannon MacMillan. Finland - Johanna Lindell (Satu Kunnas 46), Jessica Julin, Heidi Matinlassi (Pia Silander 89), Sari Seppanen, Petra Vaelma (Janina Vuorisalo 62), Sinikka Soloma, Marjo Ikola (Minna Tuominen 69), Salla Ranta (Katri Nakso-Koivisto 46), Elisa Simonen (Tiina Saario 76), Heidi Kackur, Minna Mustonen.
United States - Wambach (Lilly) 7.
United States - Fawcett (Wambach) 30.
United States - Kluegel (Fair) 89.
Shots: United States 33, Finland 3. Saves: United States 1, Finland 9. Corner kicks: United States 10, Finland 1. Fouls: United States 4, Finland 9. Offside: United States 1, Finland 0.
Referee: Keri Seitz (United States). Assistant referees: Sharon Wheeler (United States), Chris Strickland (United States). Attendance: 11,990 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. Weather: Cool, crisp, 53 degrees.©Copyright 2002 SoccerTimes.com. All Rights Reserved