Heather O’Reilly Scores the Game-Winner, Sets up First Goal
Megan Rapinoe Named Woman of the Match with Goal, Team-High Five Shots on Goal
Jill Loyden Starts in Goal, Earns Win in First Cap
U.S. Faces China Again on Wednesday, Oct. 6, in Chester, Pa., Live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 2, 2010) – The U.S. Women’s National Team opened its two-game series with China at the beautiful Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium with a 2-1 victory as Heather O’Reilly assisted on Megan Rapinoe’s opening goal and later scored the game-winner.
The United States dominated the match territorially and out-shot the Chinese 20-6 for the game, but couldn’t get a consistent attacking rhythm going and some sub-par finishing kept the contest close.
Still, the Americans created quite a few scoring chances throughout the match, with set plays being particularly dangerous, but couldn’t add to its first half total of two goals.
Lauren Cheney almost scored twice on headers in the first five minutes with the first pushed away by Chinese goalkeeper Huang Luna and the second crashing off the right post. Right back Ali Krieger almost saw her cross dip under the crossbar as well, only to be tipped away by the six-foot Chinese ‘keeper.
Rapinoe foreshadowed her goal when she stripped a Chinese back in the 13th minute and had an open shot from the top of the box. She tried to spin it into the upper right corner but Huang punched it away. On the ensuing corner kick, Shannon Boxx got a solid head on the ball, but somehow bounced it off the ground and over the goal.
The U.S. goal finally came in the 21st minute after Huang came out of the penalty box to clear with her feet while under pressure from Cheney. The ball spun out to the right flank where O’Reilly latched on and sent a low, driven cross back into the box. Huang came out hard and got a hand to the ball, but it ricocheted to the top of the penalty area. With the ’keeper down after making a play on the cross, Rapinoe had an open goal and did well to strike her first-time shot low and hard straight into the goal.
China tied the game in the 33rd minute during a sequence that produced its first two shots of the game. Wang Yihang managed to burst behind the U.S. defense, but goalkeeper Jill Loyden made a great save, throwing her body to block the breakaway chance. Unfortunately, the ball rebound straight back to Qu Shanshan and she volleyed a dipping shot into the upper left corner from the top of the penalty area.
The match marked the first career cap for the 25-year-old Loyden, who played well while making two saves. Loyden, who plays in WPS for the Chicago Red Stars, is the first goalkeeper to play for the USA since March of 2006 besides injured starter Hope Solo, veteran Nicole Barnhart and the now retired Briana Scurry.
The USA wasted little time in taking back the lead. In the 37th minute, Rapinoe sent a ball over the back line to Abby Wambach into the left side of the penalty box. Wambach struck a hard cross on the ground to the far post where O’Reilly was crashing. O’Reilly’s first attempt from close range hit the right post. The ball bounced back and hit her in the chest before the speedy flank midfielder managed to stuff it home from just inches off the goal line.
The ball looked like it might have hit O'Reilly on the arm, and the Chinese players howled for a handball, but referee Meredith Hackett ruled it hit her chest and the goal stood.
The USA pounded away at China in the second half as both teams made multiple changes. Rapinoe almost had her second goal just two minutes after the break as a nifty dribble got her a one-on-one chance, but she tried to score near post and Huang kicked it away for a corner kick.
In the 56th minute, Rapinoe again got free on a dribble in the left side of the box and cut a pass back to Amy Rodriguez, who had only been in the game for about 15 seconds. Rodriguez couldn’t get a clean strike on the ball and it spun to O’Reilly, with the ball bouncing off her and into the arms of the goalkeeper.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was playing her first match back since breaking her ankle at the beginning of the WPS season, had a golden chance to score off a header in the 61st minute, but Stephanie Cox’s cross spun off her noggin and just wide left.
China’s two best chances to equalize came in the 64th minute after Ma Jun got under a lopping cross from the left side, but struck her volley just wide left of the goal from 10 yards out, and then in the final seconds of stoppage time when a well-struck shot flashed just past Loyden’s right post..
Rodriguez had another good look in the 63rd minute as substitute Kristine Lilly penetrated down the left wing and slipped a pass to Wambach inside the penalty area. Her cross on the ground was right to Rodriguez, but she again let the ball spin off her right foot and wide right of the goal.
Lilly’s appearance marked her 348th career cap as she continues to extend her world record for international appearances.
The match also marked the first start for U.S. captain Christie Rampone since July 25, 2009, after which she took time off to have her second daughter, who was born in March of this year. Rampone played 20 minutes against Sweden on July 17 in her return to the field for the national team, but this time she played 90 minutes and along with center-back partner Amy LePeilbet, ran down almost every long ball.
Krieger, who plays her club soccer for FFC Frankfurt in Germany, went the entire distance at right back to earn her sixth cap.
The U.S. team is currently preparing for the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament to be held from Oct. 28-Nov. 8 in Mexico. The United States will open on Oct. 28 against Haiti, face Guatemala on Oct. 30 and finish Group B play against Costa Rica on Nov. 1.
The top two teams in each group advance to the all-important semifinals as the two semifinal winners will automatically qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. The third-place team will compete in a playoff against the fifth-place finisher from the European zone for the final berth to the Germany.
The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen.
The U.S. team will travel to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon to prepare for the second leg of this series taking place on Oct. 6 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. ET and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Sundhage will take 24 players to Philadelphia from which she will chose 18 to suit up for the game.
U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. China
Date: Oct. 2, 2010
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium; Kennesaw, Ga.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, sunny – 75 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
CHN 1 0 1
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Heather O’Reilly) 21st minute
CHN – Qu Shanshan (Wang Yihang) 33
USA – Heather O’Reilly 37
USA: 24-Jill Loyden; 16-Ali Krieger, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 26-Rachel Buehler (14-Stephanie Cox, 46); 9-Heather O’Reilly (13-Kristine Lilly, 62), 7-Shannon Boxx (11-Lori Lindsey, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (4-Yael Averbuch, 62), 15-MeganRapinoe; 12-Lauren Cheney (8-Amy Rodriguez, 56), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
CHN: 18-Huang Luna; 3-Yu Fan, 5-Weng Xinzhi (14-Li Danyang, 46), 20-Zhou Gaoping, 26-Zhang Nan; 4-Xu Wenjia (17-Pang Fengyue, 46), 7-Sun Lisha (6-Zhang Na, 82), 19-Qu Shanshan, 24-Gu Yasha (15-Sun Ling, 61); 9-Wang Yihang (8-Xu Yuan, 53), 11-You Jia (13-Ma Jun, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Zhang Yanru, 2-Liu Huana, 12-Zhang Jieli, 16-Wang Dongni, 28-Zhang Yue, 35-Hou Xuecheng
Head Coach: Li Xiaopeng
Statistical Summary: USA / CHN
Shots: 20 / 6
Shots on Goal: 13 / 3
Saves: 3 / 11
Corner Kicks: 9 / 6
Fouls: 3 / 4
Offsides: 5 / 5
Referee: Meredith Hackett (USA)
Assistant Referee: Melanie Johnson (USA)
Assistant Referee: Patrick Baker (USA)
Fourth Official: Amy Mahan (USA)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: