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U.S. Women Defeat Jamaica, 6-0, to Open Olympic Qualifying; Wambach Scores Twice at USA is Through to Semifinals


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (April 4, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got two goals from Abby Wambach, who also created two others, in a 6-0 victory over Jamaica in the USA’s first match of the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying.

With the win, combined with Mexico’s 8-1 win over Jamaica on Wednesday, the USA and Mexico have qualified for the semifinals while Jamaica was eliminated. The USA will now face Mexico on Sunday, April 6, with first place in Group A on the line. Mexico, which holds a slight advantage in goal difference over the USA in goal differential, needs just a tie to win the group. The Americans need a victory to win the group. The winners of the semifinals earn CONCACAF’s two berths to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Fans can follow the match, which is already a sell-out at the 22,000-seat Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez, on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker with a kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

Jamaica got full marks for feisty defense and efficient execution of its game plan as the islanders pulled their defensive restraining line back to midfield and pushed their back line way up, compressing the game to about 30 yards in midfield. The tactics forced the U.S. team to try and navigate through a packed midfield or play balls over the top of the defense, neither of which the Americans did very well in the first half.

Still, the match was never in doubt as the USA out-shot Jamaica 19-5 and controlled most of the possession. The U.S. opened the scoring in the 16th minute as Wambach powered around two defenders on the left flank, took a touch to the end line and cut a perfect cross back to Carli Lloyd, who side-footed the ball into lower right corner from 11 yards out for her 12th career goal.

Five minutes later, 20-year-old Lauren Cheney made it 2-0, also courtesy of some hard work from Wambach. The U.S. striker got free again on the left side but Jamaican goalkeeper Nicoda Linton came out sliding to block the ball, only to let it bounce off her chest. Wambach got the ball back, took a touch toward the middle and smacked a shot that was cleared by a defender at the top of the six-yard box. The ball rebounded out to Cheney at the top of the penalty area and she hammered her first-time chance into the net through traffic from 16 yards out. With forwards Amy Rodriguez and Natasha Kai not dressed due to minor knocks, Cheney played the full 90 minutes, scoring her third career goal while also earning a penalty kick.

That came eight minutes into the second half as she received a short pass in the left side of the penalty area and tried to spin towards goal, only to be chopped down. Wambach blasted the spot kick into the left corner to make it 3-0.

Jamaica’s only dangerous chance of the game came in the 62nd minute as Christina Chang swung in a free-kick from the right wing into the middle and a Jamaican attacker slammed a header off the cross bar.

While Jamaica caught the USA offside seven times and the USA did settle down in the second half and started finding ways through, around and over the Jamaican defense.

The fourth goal came in the 68th minute as attacking midfielder Lindsay Tarpley lifted a pass from the right wing over the defensive line to an unmarked Wambach, who brought the ball down on her thigh in the middle of the penalty area and bounced her shot into the left corner from 10 yards out. The two goals upped Wambach’s career total to 91 in 113 games.

The USA added a goal in the 88th minute after Tarpley sprinted down the left flank before hitting a perfect cross into the middle for O’Reilly, who hammered her shot into the upper right corner from 12 yards out. It was O’Reilly’s 18th goal in her 80th cap.

Jamaica was in no rush at any point in the match, and the time-wasting tactics combined with at least half a dozen players carried off on the stretcher during the game combined for a nice block of stoppage time at the end of the game.

The USA took advantage of the extra time to launch one of its best attacks of the match as O’Reilly went on a 40-yard diagonal dribble from the left into the middle before slipping the ball to Cheney about 30 yards from the net. Cheney then played substitute Tobin Heath into penalty area on the right and the 19-year-old lashed her shot into the upper right corner to make it 6-0. The goal was the second for Heath in seven caps for the full National Team.

The game was likely a moral victory for Jamaica, who managed to hold the score down while putting together some nice counter attacks and a few dazzling dribbles that delighted the fans. Jamaica’s tactics produced an oddity as the USA failed to produce even one corner kick, something that has rarely, if ever, happened in a U.S. WNT match.

The crowd over just over 5,000 was largely pro-Jamaica, rooting the underdogs on for the entire match, although the fans did not appreciate Jamaica’s stalling toward the end of the game. Still, it gave the USA a small taste of what Sunday’s match against Mexico will be like in front of a rabid home crowd.

In the first match of the day, Costa Rica tied Trinidad & Tobago, 2-2, in Group B on a goal from Cristin Granados with just 15 seconds left in the third and final minute of stoppage time. The draw means that Costa Rica can qualify for the semifinals with a tie against Canada in its final group game on April 6, or a loss by five or less goals.



U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT

Match-up: USA vs. Jamaica
Competition: 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying
Venue: Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez; Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Date: April 4, 2008
Attendance: 5,083
Weather Clear, warm – 65 degrees

Scoring Summary:
           1   2   F
USA    2  4    6
JAM     0  0    0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Abby Wambach) 16th minute.
USA -- Lauren Cheney (unassisted) 21.
USA – Abby Wambach (Penalty Kick) 53.
USA – Abby Wambach (Lindsay Tarpley) 68.
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Lindsay Tarpley) 88.
USA – Tobin Heath (Lauren Cheney) 95+.

Lineups:
USA: 24-Nicole Barnhart; 14-Stephanie Cox, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone – Capt. (4-Cat Whitehill, 55); 17-Lori Chalupny; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd (13-Tobin Heath, 46), 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 9-Heather O’Reilly; 8-Lauren Cheney, 20-Abby Wambach (10-Kacey White, 73).
Subs not used: 2-Rachel Buehler, 12-Leslie Osborne, 16-Angela Hucles, 18-Hope Solo.
Not Eligible: 6-Natasha Kai, 19-Amy Rodriguez.

Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

JAM: 1-Nicoda Linton; 4-Christina Murray, 6-Janice Rennalls, 16-Tanesia Vassell - Capt, 22-Yolanda Hamilton; 3-Marcilee McBean, 11-Jodi-Ann McGregor (18-Stacy-Ann Johnson, 91+), 14-Omolyn Davis, 17-Christina Chang; 7-Venicia Reid (8-Kenesha Reid, 74), 23-Shakira Duncan (10-Tashana Vincent, 64).
Subs not used: 13-Nikkishi Thomas; 5-Monique Pryce, 12-Iesha Mowatt, 19-LaToya Panton.
Suspended: 21-Natalya Manyan.
Not Eligible: 9-Alicia James.

Head Coach: Alfredo Montesso

Statistical Summary:
            USA / JAM
Shots: 19 / 5
Shots on Goal: 11 / 3
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 0 / 0
Fouls: 16 / 9
Offside: 7 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
JAM – Venicia Reid (caution) 26th minute.
JAM – Christina Chang (caution) 57.

Officials
Referee: Diane Ferreira-James (GUY)
Asst. Referee: Cynette Jeffrey (GUY)
Asst. Referee: Isabel Tovar (MEX)
4th Official: Monique Ras (ARU)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach

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