U.S. advances to Algarve Cup final with Sweden draw
There was a familiar face on the sidelines of the U.S. women's match. Only this time, Pia Sundhage was trying to beat the Americans.
Facing its former coach for the first time, the United States came from behind to tie Sweden 1-1 Monday on Alex Morgan's 56th-minute goal at Lagos Portugal and advance to the Algarve Cup final for the 10th time in 11 years.
"I tried to tune Pia out, and the fact that she was speaking Swedish helped a little bit,'' Morgan said. "After the match, it was a frustrating feeling having tied and having so many opportunities in the last 10 minutes, so I didn't want to go over and hug her. But then I was like, no, she's done so much for us, so I went over and gave her a hug and, as always, she was so happy to see all of us.''
The Americans, who extended their unbeaten streak to 28 games, will play Germany in Wednesday's title game. They are seeking their ninth championship in 18 trips to the tournament.
Sundhage left the U.S. team after last summer's Olympics, where the Americans won their second straight gold medal, to return to her native Sweden. Tom Sermanni replaced her this year.
For defender Kelley O'Hara, playing against Sundhage's team took a bit of an adjustment.
"I am so used to hearing her voice. It was like, `Are you talking to me?''' O'Hara recalled thinking. "`Oh, you're talking Swedish. I'm not on your team anymore!' So it was a bit weird.''
Lisa Dahlkvist put Sweden ahead in the fourth minute on a 40-yard shot. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris came off the line to clear and was trying to get back to the net.
"Those things happen. You just have to respond well,'' Harris said. "I didn't get rattled by it.''
The 27-year-old Harris made her national team debut after starting for the Americans at the 2002 and 2004 Under-19 World Cups.
"I've waited a long time for this moment,'' she said. "It just shows that they are not scared to put me in when it comes to crunch time and I appreciate that.''
Morgan tied the score with a header off Megan Rapinoe's corner kick.
"I think we showed a lot of character and that's an important part of a soccer game,'' Sermanni said. "There are some days you can go out and play the type of football you want to play and there are days at the office when you know it's going to be really tough, roll-your-sleeves-up, kind of battle, and today was one of those games. You need to be able to adjust and play under both of those conditions.''
Morgan's goal was her first of 2013.
"Luck was a little bit on my side today,'' she said. "Pinoe hit a great ball in, and actually that's a goal I've been wanting to get I'm always on the keeper and not in the prime position to be the goal scorer for corner kicks.''
NOTES: Abby Wambach remained at 154 career goals, four shy of tying Mia Hamm's international record. ... American MF Carli Lloyd missed the game because of a minor shoulder injury. ... MF Lauren Cheney left the team because of a family matter, the U.S. Soccer Federation said.