- USA Misses Slew of Chances, Holds On For Scrappy Win
- Americans in Second Place in Group D After France Beats Argentina, 5-0
- Young Americans Face Argentina Next on Aug. 21 in Moscow
MOSCOW, Russia (Aug. 18, 2006) – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Soccer Team opened the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship with a 2-1 win against a physical and highly motivated Democratic Republic of Congo in Group D play at Torpedo Stadium.
Both U.S. forwards scored as Kelley O’Hara tallied on a drive from distance in the 41st minute and Amy Rodriguez converted a penalty kick 20 minutes into the second half. But the young U.S. team wasted a slew of chances during the match, smacking four shots off the crossbar and failing to convert at least three breakaways over the course of the game (photos).
“The good news is that they are not happy or satisfied with the game,” said Schulz. “I thought some individuals, especially some of the younger players, stepped up and did a fantastic job. Kelley O’Hara played very hard up top. Nogueira, one of our youngest players, did well when she came in. Tobin Heath looked super with her flair on the ball…so I am pleased with that. I am happy with the back four, they kept their shape and stepped up at the right time.”
The USA out-shot DR Congo, 22-9, but the Africans definitely distinguished themselves with some gutsy play despite coming into the game as huge underdogs. The USA was on shaky legs in the early going, but Congo’s only danger early on came from two misplays off the feet of U.S. goalkeeper Joanna Haig and an opportunistic 40-yard shot from Odile Kuyangisa that forced Haig to scramble back into her net as it flew over the crossbar.
The USA settled down after the first 10 minutes and Rodriguez volleyed one over the goal from 10 yards out after a poor Congo clearance before she was miraculously denied in the 18th minute. The play started when defender Nikki Krzysik played a ball into the right side of penalty area behind the defense to Tina DiMartino. She whipped a cross on the ground to Tobin Heath, who was making a run to the near post. Heath’s back-heel attempt at goal hit of the shin of Congo goalkeeper Mamie Buazo. The ball came back to back to Heath, who played a quick touch to Rodriguez in the middle and the U.S. forward slammed her shot at the net from just seven yards away. The ball hit Buazo in the leg and then was pinned on the goal line by a sliding Congo defender before Buazo jumped on it.
The Congo had its best chance of the half in the 22nd minute after Jordan Angeli and Stephanie Lopez both failed to win tackles on the right flank and the ball was cut back to Kuyangisa, who had an open look at the net, but fired over the goal from 10 yards out.
The USA continued to pepper the Congolese goal and finally broke through in the 33rd minute. O’Hara took a thread pass from center midfielder Allie Long and whirled toward goal. Finding no defenders close, she wound up and smacked a dipping drive from 28 yards out that flew into the lower left corner. It was O’Hara’s ninth international goal at the U-20 level.
The USA could easily have gotten another goal right before halftime as Rodriguez slipped a ball behind the Congo defense, putting O’Hara into a one-on-one with Buazo, but the young U.S. forward cut her shot wide left from 16 yards out just seconds before the halftime whistle.
Schulz made two substitutions at halftime, sending on Erin Hardy for Kryzsik and Casey Nogueira for Angeli, and the Americans found a bit better rhythm in the final 45 minutes. Just one minute into the second half, Amanda Poach fired a dipping volley off the top of the crossbar. Long fired a shot over the goal a minute later and, nine minutes after that, O’Hara rocked the woodwork with a drive from 23 yards out.
The pressure paid off in the 65th minute as the Americans earned a throw-in deep in the Congo half on the left side. It was taken quickly to DiMartino, who plowed into the left side of the penalty area and then crossed into the middle. Long won the bouncing ball, but with her back to the goal, she was bowled over as Nanouche Lumbu ran up her back. Rodriguez drilled her penalty shot straight up the middle as Buazo moved to her right away from the ball.
The USA then put together a remarkable flurry over the next few minutes, remarkable in the amount of opportunities created in such a short time, and in that none were put away. Just seconds after the Congo kickoff, Rodroguez got in on a breakaway, but it was saved by Buazo. One minute later, Poach had a breakaway after a nifty Rodriguez back-heel, but hit it wide left of the goal. Nogueira then had two golden chances, the first of which she fired straight at Buazo and second of which she pounded off the crossbar from just inside the penalty area.
Congo pulled a goal back in the 70th minute on a mistake in the back by defender Stephanie Logterman, who otherwise played a rock solid match. Logterman passed the ball straight to an African midfielder, who quickly played Tresorine Nzuzi behind the U.S. defense. Stephanie Lopez and Hardy almost recovered to deny her shot, but Nzuzi pulled off a fine dribbling move to avoid the challenges and bent a ball past Haig into the lower left corner form 17 yards out. Nzuzi celebrated the goal with a cartwheel flip, but it would be the lone score for the Africans.
Haig came up with a fine save in the 76th minute, pushing a 25-yard Congo free-kick from Kuyangisa over the crossbar to preserve the victory.
When Nogueira hit the crossbar again in the 74th minute, DiMartino shot an open volley wide left from 10 yards out, and O’Hara blistered a dipping volley over the crossbar in the 82nd, it was clear that it wouldn’t be the Americans’ day.
The feisty O’Hara earned Women of the Match honors and pestered the Congo defense with her running all match long. Heath also had a fine match at left back for the USA, moving into the midfield on numerous occasions to bolster the U.S. attack.
The USA will next face Argentina, who lost 5-0 to France, on Monday, Aug. 21, at Torpedo Stadium. In the other matches on the day, Mexico picked up a big 4-2 win over Switzerland, but the shocker of the competition so far, and perhaps one of the biggest upsets ever in a FIFA women’s tournament, saw North Korea shutout defending champions Germany, 2-0.
U.S. UNDER-20 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. DR Congo
Competition: 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship – Group D
Venue: Torpedo Stadium – Moscow, Russia
Date: August 21, 2006; Kickoff – 4 p.m. local time / 8 a.m. ET
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm – 77 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
COD 0 1 1
USA – Kelley O’Hara (Allie Long) 33rd minute.
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Penalty Kick) 65.
COD – Tresorine Nzuzi (N/A) 70.
USA: 21-Joanna Haig; 3-Stephanie Logterman, 4-Nikki Krzysik (16-Erin Hardy, 46), 6-Stephanie Lopez, 11-Tobin Heath; 13-Tina DiMartino, 7-Amanda Poach, 14-Allie Long (5-Sara Wagenfuhr, 84), 2-Jordan Angeli (20-Casey Nogueira, 46); 19-Kelley O’Hara, 12-Amy Rodriguez.
Subs not used: 1-Val Henderson, 8-Lauren Cheney, 9-Danesha Adams, 10-Brittany Bock, 17-Jessica Rostedt, 18-Kelsey Davis.
Suspended: 15-Carrie Dew.
Head Coach: Tim Schulz
COD: 1-Mamie Buazo; 2-Pitshou Tezi, 5-Guyssie Kiuvu, 6-Nanu Mafuala, 7-Oliva Amani (8-Olga Wadio, 86), 14-Odile Kuyangisa; 11-Nanouche Lumbu, 15-Christine Bongo, 4-Tresorine Nzuzi, 9-Annette Nshimire, 12-Mify Zenga (17-Yvonne Malembo, 51).
Subs not used: 3-Lucie Mengi, 10-Arlette Mafuta, 13-Charmante Nsimba, 16-Francine Bahati, 18-Nicky Elongo, 19-Thethe Nlenvo, 20-Natha Essandja, 21-Dina Lusandu
Head Coach: Poly Bonganya
USA / COD
Shots: 22 / 9
Shots on Goal: 10 / 3
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 18 / 12
Offside: 6 / 5
COD – Tresorine Nzuzi (caution) 41st minute.
COD – Nanouche Lumbu (caution) 64.
COD – Odile Kuyangisa (caution) 77.
COD – Olga Wadio (caution) 89.
Referee: Claudine Brohet (BEL)
Asst. Referee: Maria Luisa Villa Gutierrez (ESP)
Asst. Referee: Katarzyna Nadolska (POL)
4th Official: Shereen Arafa (EGY)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Kelley O’Hara
U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team Quote Sheet
U.S. head coach Tim Schulz
On the Congo:
“I want to congratulate the Congo. They’re football was very good and there was some very exciting soccer, which we expected.”
On the match:
“I thought it was very difficult to play soccer against the Congo, if there was a 50/50 ball or even a 60/40 ball, Congo won it and they were very strong, very powerful with their tackles and I think it upset us a little bit. This team likes to pass the ball around and Congo was always disrupting our play, so very good tactics from Congo. A lot of our young players are going to have to learn how to play quicker because Argentina is not going to stop and neither is France.”
On what the team needs to improve for the Argentina game:
“Finishing, for sure. We got in behind, but we have to finish our chances. We didn’t finish five or six or seven good chances. Those need to be put away. And I think we need to relax on the ball. Those are two things I would look for.”
Midfielder Amanda Poach
On the match:
“I thought it was really physical, but give credit to the Congo, they didn’t back down at all. We never really got into a good rhythm. It was an average performance by us, which was disappointing, but a lot of us have never played in a World Championship match before and I think maybe the nerves got to some of us a little bit.”
On the win:
“Obviously, we are happy with three points, but we know that the result could have been a lot better. We know moving on that we need to put away our chances, especially with the amount of opportunities we had today. We had a great chance to pump up our goal difference and we didn’t take advantage, but I know the team will be more focused and motivated in the next game. We are putting this game behind us and looking forward to playing Argentina.”
Team captain Stephanie Lopez
On the match:
“I’m definitely disappointed. I don’t think that was how we wanted to come out for our first game, but I think we definitely learned a lot from it. We weren’t as sharp and on our toes as we needed to be to put more goals away and take the fight out of Congo.”
On staying positive:
“I thought that throughout the game, instead of getting too frustrated, we stayed positive with each other, and we were encouraging each other, and that was a good sign. Your true character comes out when things aren’t going well. I thought we did create a lot of opportunities, and that was a positive, but we just have to have more focus in the attacking third. The precision wasn’t there.”
Goalkeeper Joanna Haig
On the match:
“Our ball possession wasn’t what it usually is and I felt we could have been more disciplined defensively and not dive in as much on them because they were talented dribblers. We needed to get rid of the ball quicker, because of the physicality of the tackles. They did take us out of our game a bit with their tackling, but that’s just something we have to deal with and play quicker.”
Forward Kelley O’Hara
On the match:
“This game is behind us and I am going to learn from the bad things and focus on the positives. Thankfully, we created chances, and I would be worried if we didn’t, but unfortunately, we didn’t finish them and that will be the focus in training and into the next game. We want to continue creating the same amount chances, but definitely finish a higher percentage.”
On the physical nature of the game:
“They were a rough team. I have some cleat marks up and down my legs, I got my ankle straight-up stepped on and I got slapped in the face. But I guess that’s welcome to the World Cup, Kelley.”