CHEONAN, South Korea (Oct. 31, 2006) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got spectacular first-half finishes from Kristine Lilly and Natasha Kai to defeat Australia, 2-0, in its second Group B match of the 2006 Peace Queen Cup. The USA next faces the Netherlands on Thursday, Nov. 2, at Suwon World Cup Stadium and a win will likely put the Americans in the championship game.
In the other Group B match, Denmark defeated the Netherlands, 1-0, meaning the USA, Australia and the Danes are all still in the running for the group title and a place in the title game against the winner of Group A, which will be determined by tomorrow’s clash between Brazil and Canada in Changwon. Both Denmark and the USA have four points from two matches, but the USA has a one-goal advantage over Denmark in the first tie-breaker -- goal difference -- heading into the final group game. If the USA can maintain that edge by beating the Netherlands by more goals than Denmark beats Australia, the USA will win the group. If Australia beats Denmark or the teams draw, a win by any margin will get the USA to the title game.
The victory was especially sweet for the U.S. women, as not only did they win while resting numerous regulars, and earn a leg up towards making the final, but the Americans had tied Australia in the two previous matches between the teams, one in group play at the 2004 Olympics.
U.S. head coach Greg Ryan made six changes from the lineup that tied Denmark, 1-1, last Sunday, including giving forward Natasha Kai first-ever start. In fact, Ryan switched out the entire midfield in the 4-3-3 formation, resting regular starters Leslie Osborne, Carli Lloyd and Aly Wagner. Stepping up was the midfield trio of Marci Miller, Joanna Lohman and Angela Hucles, who played an excellent game in the attacking midfielder role, as all three put together a fine team performance.
Kai celebrated the start with a goal in the 35th minute, but not before Lilly got the USA on the board with her 115th career goal 20 minutes into the match.
Lilly created the goal almost out of nothing, as she ran down a cross from Kai that flew from the right wing through the penalty area and rolled outside the box on the left flank. Lilly squared up on her defender, beat her to the inside and cracked a shot with her right foot from about 14 yards out that took a deflection off the shoulder of an Aussie defender and soared just under the crossbar, slamming into the back of the net near the upper right corner.
The Matildas looked to be the better team through the first 15 minutes as a U.S. lineup featuring numerous inexperienced players struggled to find its rhythm. Lilly’s goal shifted the momentum and Kai’s score added an exclamation point.
It was Abby Wambach who did the heavy lifting on the second goal as she sprinted into the right side of the penalty area and beautifully brought down a high Lilly service in stride. She took a hard touch toward goal, a bit too hard in fact, as Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri came out sliding to block the cross at the edge of the six-yard box. The ball deflected straight up in the air and dropped at the front of the goal box where Kai took a great touch to her right to lose a defender before blasting the ball into the net for her sixth career international goal.
Lilly had almost given the USA the lead in the 17th minute after Wambach was whacked down by Aussie captain Cheryl Salisbury just outside the penalty area on the left side. The USA took the free-kick quickly to Lilly running into the left side of the box, catching the Matildas off guard, but the U.S. captain slammed her left-footed shot off the inside of the right post. The rebound rolled straight back up the middle of the penalty area but no U.S. players were framing the goal.
Australia almost tied the game in the 23rd minute as Joanne Burgess hit the inside of the right post after running onto a chip over the U.S. defense, but the ball bounced into the middle and was cleared by Tina Frimpong.
The U.S. defense, bolstered by a great game from center back Cat Whitehill, played an air-tight match, limiting the Australians to just two shots on goal over the 90 minutes. Outside backs Heather Mitts and Christie Rampone, and in the second half Lori Chalupny, were stellar in keeping the talented Aussie flank players in front of them. U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry, starting just her third match since returning to the national team at the beginning of this year, did have to handle a half-dozen well struck crosses, including several that required brave ventures into oncoming goal mouth traffic.
In the 42nd minute, Wambach fought through a pack of players off a corner kick to knock both the ball and Barbieri into the net, but the goal was correctly waved off for the foul and it took the Aussie ‘keeper a few moments to regain her wits.
With the U.S. holding a two-goal lead, the second half was somewhat uneventful, but the Australians did have a dangerous free kick in the 63rd minute as Heather Garriock hit the side netting after a cross was knocked down inside the U.S. penalty box.
The final chance of the game came in the 86th minute as Wambach fired a shot from deep in the right side of the penalty area, but it was palmed down by the diving Barberi and she pounced on the ball before late substitute Lindsay Tarpley could get a toe to the rebound.
If the USA and Denmark both win their final matches, but Denmark manages to score one more goal than the USA in doing so, the teams will be tied on points, goal difference and goals scored, meaning the tournament organizers would have to draw lots to determine the group champion. If the USA does make the championship game, it will be held on Nov. 4 at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Australia
Competition: 2006 Peace Queen Cup
Venue: Cheonan Stadium; Cheonan, South Korea
Date: October 31, 2006; Kickoff – 4:00 p.m. local / 2:00 a.m. ET
Weather: Cool, clear – 65 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
AUS 0 0 0
USA – Kristine Lily (Natasha Kai) 20th minute.
USA – Natasha Kai (Abby Wambach) 35.
USA – 1-Briana Scurry; 2-Heather Mitts (17-Lori Chalupny, 46), 4-Cat Whitehill, 8-Tina Frimpong (15-Kate Markgraf, 46), 3-Christie Rampone; 21-Marci Miller, 23-Joanna Lohman, 16-Angela Hucles, 6-Natasha Kai, 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt. (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 84)
Subs not used: 10-Aly Wagner, 11-Carli Lloyd, 12-Leslie Osborne, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 18-Hope Solo, 19-Kacey White.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
AUS – 1-Melissa Barbieri; 6-Rhian Davies (4-Kim Carroll, 58), 5-Cheryl Salisbury, 13-Clare Polkinghorne (2-Kate McShea, 58), 7-Heather Garriock; 20-Joanne Burgess (17-Danielle Small, 68), 9-Alicia Ferguson (14-Collette McCallum, 78), 10-Joanne Peters, 15-Lauren Colthorpe; 8-Sarah Walsh (11-Lisa De Vanna, 69), 16-Caitlin Munoz (12-Katie Gill, 69).
Subs not used: 3-Karla Reuter, 18-Emma Wirkus, 19-Lana Harch.
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
USA / AUS
Shots: 10 / 6
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 2
Fouls: 14 / 8
Offside: 4 / 1
Misconduct Summary: None.
Referee: Kim Eun Jin (KOR)
Asst. Referee: Kim Yong Min (KOR)
Asst. Referee: Park Mi Suk (KOR)
4th Official: Shin Hwa Yeon (KOR)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Cat Whitehill
2006 Peace Queen Cup Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
CAN 2 0 0 6 6 3 +3
BRA 1 0 1 4 2 1 +1
ITA 0 1 1 1 3 4 -1
KOR 0 2 0 0 1 4 -3
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
USA 1 0 1 4 3 1 +2
DEN 1 0 1 4 2 1 +1
AUS 1 1 0 3 1 2 -1
NED 0 2 0 0 0 2 -2
Complete results can be found at ussoccer.com's Peace Queen Cup homepage.
U.S. WNT Quote Sheet
U.S. head coach Greg Ryan on the match:
“Obviously, I’m very happy with the performance of my team today. Australia is a very strong team, especially defending. It’s been very difficult for us to score goals on Australia, so for us to get two goals today was really good. I’m very happy with the performance of Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, and also our young player, Natasha Kai, did well in scoring the second goal.”
On winning the game with several inexperienced players in the lineup:
“I think it’s fantastic, especially for the new players that came in. The six that came in just did a great job against Australia. It was just a scrappy, battling kind of game and you have to do a lot of dirty work, win air balls, slide tackles, do whatever you can to try and win the ball. The midfield, Marci Miller, Joanna Lohman and Angela Hucles just did a fantastic job winning balls and putting the ball on the floor and having the composure to play well. Putting them alongside Abby and Lilly and the other regulars, it was just great for the team to know that it’s not just 11, we have 20 over here and they can all play.”
On the back-and-forth play in the game:
“Our goal was to try to play as much in the attack as we could because it’s so difficult to break Australia’s defense down. I think Australia also came out playing attacking soccer. They sent seven and eight players at us in the first half and that gave us some room to attack, to create chances behind their defense.”
On the play of goalkeeper Briana Scurry:
“Bri put in a very good performance. We defended very well in front her, but she took care of everything that she had to behind them. It’s a very difficult game playing Australia, because they are so good at crossing the ball and challenging in the air. The near post saved us in the first half…they are such a strong physical team so Briana did a great job of dealing with the crosses in traffic.”
On Australia’s two most dangerous players:
“Joanne Peters was very good coming forward with the ball and Heather Garriock was very good getting forward. She didn’t play defense much, she pushed up in the midfield and also on the front line, so we had to put extra players back to stop those two.”
On who may win Group A:
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Canada make the final. They are a very hard-working physical, strong team, they play well together and are good scoring goals. I think Brazil is also a very good team, but they haven’t been training as much as Canada. My understanding is that that Brazil hadn’t played a game since the 2004 Olympics until the Peace Cup, so it’s very difficult to organize a team so quickly.”
On what the USA will need to do to make the final:
“I think to get into the final, it will probably come down to goal differential…If we are in a situation where we have to score a lot of goals to get into the final, then we’ll play our best attacking team and try and score as many goals as we can.”
On U.S. captain Kristine Lilly:
“That’s Lil, when you look back on the year and say what were the spectacular goals, they were Lil’s. She’s just that kind of a player. She’s a big goal player and she’s a player you want on the field when you need one.”
U.S. captain Kristine Lilly on the match:
“It obviously was a little different lineup for us…You had Joanna Lohman, Angela Hucles Marci Miller in the middle so you had three players who hadn’t started together for this team yet and they did a great job. It was a battle for them, it wasn’t a pretty game, but I thought they did an incredible job. Kai joined Abby and I up front and got a goal, so she snuck one in there, so that was good confidence for her so she feels like she can contribute. Tina Frimpong, who’s been (in the back) before came in and I thought she did a good job as well.”
On needing a win and getting it:
“It was a team effort today, and I think the players who got a chance to start stepped up and made a difference and that made them feel good. Tying for us is like a loss, so having a win and scoring two goals on them does make us feel good, especially in this tournament. (Australia) had a win and we needed this one.”
Australia head coach Tom Sermanni on the match:
“I was actually quite pleased with the actual football performance, but a little bit disappointed in the goals that we conceded. In the first half, we allowed the U.S. strikers, who are probably the most potent in the world, a little bit too much time on the ball and we paid the price for that. But overall, from a football perspective, I wasn’t too disappointed.”