PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team opened the Achieve Your Gold Tour, a 10-game domestic run of matches to celebrate the 2008 Olympic gold medal, with a 2-0 defeat of Ireland in front of 13,176 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
It was the first match for the U.S. women since dramatically winning the gold with a 1-0 overtime triumph over Brazil on Aug. 21 in Beijing, China.
Before the match, Heather O’Reilly was honored for earning her 100th cap in that gold medal game and keeping with tradition, she captained U.S. team, coincidentally against the country of her heritage.
Despite getting out-shot 20-4, Ireland put in a solid effort against the Olympic champions, playing compact, energetic defense that featured some hard tackling.
The USA broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute after O’Reilly streaked down the right sideline and curved a perfect cross into the middle. Forward Natasha Kai rose up in between several Irish defenders and powered home a header from six yards out. It was Kai’s team-leading 14th goal of the year and the 22nd of her career.
O’Reilly sealed the victory just four minutes from the end of the game as she sliced through the center of the park on a penetrating dribble. The midfielder unleashed a left-footed rocket from just outside the penalty area that flew over Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne, clanked off the underside of the crossbar at the upper left corner and bounced down over the goal line. It was her seventh goal of 2008 and also her 22nd international score.
The USA put 10 shots on goal during the match but the talented Byrne, who plays her club soccer for the Arsenal Ladies in London, came up with several excellent saves.
Shannon Boxx fired four shots in the first 22 minutes, but her most dangerous was a one-on-one chance from six yards out that was athletically kick-saved by Bryne in the 23rd minute. Byrne also made a brave save at Boxx’ feet later in the half, stuffing her chance after Kai’s shot had been deflected off a defender and right into her path.
Ireland’s most dangerous spurt came in middle of the first half when it earned two consecutive corner kicks, but otherwise U.S. goalkeepers Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart, who played the second half, had little to do.
The win moved the U.S. women to 27-1-1 in 2008 heading into the second match of Achieve Your Gold Tour, which will take place on Wed., Sept. 17 against Ireland at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. ET. The U.S. women complete the three-game series against the Irish on Sept. 20 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Kickoff for that match is at 7 p.m. CT and it will be streamed lived on ussoccer.com.
-- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT --
Match-up: USA vs. Ireland
Competition: International Friendly – Achieve Your Gold Tour
Venue: Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia, Pa.
Date: September 13, 2008; Kickoff – 8 p.m. ET
Weather: Humid – 77 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
IRL 0 0 0
USA – Natasha Kai (Heather O’Reilly) 32nd minute.
USA – Heather O’Reilly 86.
USA: 1-Hope Solo (18-Nicole Barnhart, 46); 17-Lori Chalupny, 3-Christie Rampone, 15-Kate Markgraf (4-Rachel Buehler, 46), 2-Heather Mitts (14-Stephanie Cox, 46); 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 9-Heather O’Reilly - Capt., 6-Natasha Kai (21-Kacey White, 60), 16-Angela Hucles (10-Aly Wagner, 46).
Subs not used: 22-Briana Scurry
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
IRL: 24-Emma Byrne; 5-Yvonne Tracy, 2-Meabh De Burca, 4-Niamh Fahey, 3-Alisha Moran, 7-Ciara Grant, 6-Sonya Hughes, 14-Jemma Connor (17-Mary McDonnell, 53), 8-Aine O’Gorman (9-Katie Taylor, 90); 10-Michele O’Brien, 11-Stefanie Curtis (13-Ciara McCormack, 62).
Subs not used:, 12-Sharon Boyle, 15-Susan Byrne, 18-Denise Thomas, 22-Meghann Burke, 26-Lynn Bradley
Head Coach: Noel King
Statistical Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 20 / 4
Shots on Goal: 10 / 2
Saves: 1 / 8
Corner Kicks: 11 / 2
Fouls: 4 / 4
Offside: 2 / 2
Referee: Kari Seitz (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Marlene Duffy (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Veronica Perez (USA)
Fourth Official: Teresa Miguel (USA)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Heather O’Reilly