Wambach Scores Both Goals as U.S. WNT Rolls Past Sweden in Crucial Group B Match
CHENGDU, China (Sept. 14, 2007) – U.S. forward Abby Wambach scored from the penalty spot in the 34th minute and then sealed the match with a thundering half-volley in the 58th as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Sweden 2-0 in a crucial Group B match at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
"I am so proud of my players,” said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan. “We knew that this was potentially an elimination match with Sweden. We discussed what would be the difference in the game, and I think big players win championships. You saw what Abby did tonight. She played great. Kristine Lilly played great. I thought it was a very good performance from all of our players and (goalkeeper Hope Solo) had a very strong performance tonight also."
The USA will now travel back to Shanghai to prepare for its final Group B match on Tuesday, Sept. 18, against Nigeria at the Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium. Kickoff is 8 p.m. local / 7:55 a.m. ET live on ESPN. North Korea defeated Nigeria, 2-0, in the other Group B match, meaning that the USA and North Korea are tied atop the group with four points, while each team has a plus-two goal difference.
The match was played in conditions opposite from the USA’s first game against North Korea, which took place in steady rain on a sloppy, wet field. This game was played under sunny skies on a dry field, with temperatures in the 80s, as more than 30,000 fans cheered on both teams. The Americans had more of the dangerous chances while out-shooting Sweden 15-13, and put eight shots on goal to the Europeans' two.
The USA came out in a 4-3-3 formation as Ryan made two changes from the lineup that faced North Korea, inserting Leslie Osborne for Shannon Boxx and Lindsay Tarpley replaced Heather O’Reilly. Both Osborne and Tarpley played well in their Women’s World Cup debuts, especially Osborne, who did a excellent job clamping down on Swedish star Victoria Svensson while strongly winning numerous head balls.
The USA had to survive a nervy first 10 minutes in which Sweden earned five corner kicks. As would be the case for the entire match, however, the U.S. women showed their ability to defend set plays and win air balls, clearing away every dangerous service.
The penalty kick was earned after defender Kate Markgraf sent a long ball into the Sweden penalty area from the midfield stripe near the right sideline. The ball took a monster hop over charging Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and was dropping toward net. As U.S. midfielder Lori Chalupny raced under the ball and prepared to tap it in, Sweden defender Stina Segerstrom chopped her down right near the goal line. Hungarian referee Gyoengyi Gaal pointed to the penalty spot, and cautioned Segerstrom, who was fortunate to get away with just a yellow card after denying an obvious scoring opportunity.
Wambach took a long run up to the ball and calmly converted her shot into the left corner as Lindhal went the wrong way.
Ryan put on Shannon Boxx for Carli Lloyd at halftime and the move helped solidify the midfield defensively as the Americans continued to repel the steady stream of long balls sent at the back line by the Swedish attack.
Wambach effectively put the game away in the 58th minute, but it was through the work of Tarpley and captain Kristine Lilly that the goal came to fruition. Tarpley aggressively won a ball on the left sideline and tapped the ball to Lilly on the left wing. Lilly spied Wambach on a dead run into the penalty area with two defenders in tow. Lilly lofted a perfect pass to Wambach’s chest, which she deftly brought down between the two Swedes and struck it on the half-volley from 12 yards out, smashing it past Lindahl who didn’t move.
"The ball got wide to Kristine, and I saw her take a touch facing up toward the field, and that she had a chance to play a long ball in so I just kind of made a run,” said Wambach. “She saw me making the run and she basically did all the rest. She put an amazing ball on my chest in between the two defenders and I luckily took a decent touch off my chest and was able to half-volley it. It's one of those goals as a forward that you want to say, "yea, I meant to do that, to put it exactly where it went" but you know, in this situation, I just hit it as hard as I could and it went in."
The goals upped Wambach’s career international total to 80, giving her three scores in the tournament, which equals the number she scored in the entire 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Swedes were dangerous on their set pieces for the rest of the match, and Solo acrobatically batted away a miss-hit cross in the 79th minute, back-peddling to swat the ball out for a corner kick.
The USA put its first six shots of the match on frame, and did not hit a shot that missed the target until the 41st minute, when Lloyd volleyed high from just right of the penalty spot after corralling a deflected cross from Wambach.
Lloyd had a half-chance just seven minutes in, but couldn’t reach a skipping cross and ended up fouling Lindahl instead. Lloyd also smacked a 30-yard free kick from straight away center, but it skipped off the defensive wall and into the arms of Lindahl.
Chalupny almost got behind the Sweden defense in the right side of the penalty area in the 16th minute, but Lindahl came out to smother. Lindahl made another good save in the 21st minute as Cat Whitehill powered a free kick from five yards in front of the halfway line that was headed for the back of the net before the Swedish goalkeeper dove back to parry it away.
One minute later, Lilly fired a left-footed blast from 25 yards that was knocked down by Lindahl, but the rebound eluded Tarpley who couldn’t get a foot on the ball. Lindahl also knocked down a well-struck Chalupny shot in the 29th minute. In the 35th minute, Chalupny did get behind the Sweden defense, this time in the left side of the penalty area, driving towards the near post before cutting the ball back into the seam, but it was cleared before a U.S. player could get a foot on it.
Sweden really pressed for the first 10 minutes of the second half as the USA struggled to get a hold of the ball, but even with Sweden’s pressure, they could not break down the USA’s back line of Stephanie Lopez, Whitehill, Markgraf and Christie Rampone.
Solo was forced to grab a loose ball in a scramble in the 56th and had to watch a dangerous curving service off a free-kick fly outside her left post in the 77th minute, but after she pushed away that cross two minutes later, and the usually clinical Hanna Lljungberg scuffed a header off a corner kick just wide right of the goal, it was clear it would not be Sweden’s day.
The USA had a couple of good chances in the second half. Tarpley fired wide from left corner of the penalty area after beating a player in the 63rd minute and Lilly almost beat Lindahl from long rage in the 72nd, but the Swedish goalkeeper recovered to snag the shot. Lilly just missed making it 3-0 in the 75th minute, sliding to get on the end of a long free kick, but couldn’t get a solid foot on the ball.
Heather O’Reilly was the final substitute for the USA, coming in the 67th minute and helped salt away the win with some savvy play at the end of the match.
Fans can follow the 2007 Women’s World Cup on the ESPN family of networks, which will broadcast all 32 games live, as well as on ussoccer.com, which is providing daily information via podcasts, videos, features, the WNT blog and much, much more.
Match-up: USA vs. Sweden
Competition: 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Group B
Venue: Chengdu Sports Center Stadium – Chengdu, China
Date: Sept. 14, 2007; Kickoff – 5:00 pm local / 5 a.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, humid – 86 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
SWE 0 0 0
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty kick) 34th minute.
USA – Abby Wambach (Kristine Lilly) 58.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 3-Christie Rampone, 15-Kate Markgraf, 4-Cat Whitehill, 14-Stephanie Lopez; 12-Leslie Osborne, 17-Lori Chalupny, 11-Carli Lloyd (7-Shannon Boxx, 46); 5-Lindsay Tarpley (9-Heather O’Reilly, 67), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 2-Marian Dalmy, 6-Natasha Kai, 8-Tina Ellertson, 10-Aly Wagner, 16-Angela Hucles, 19-Marci Jobson, 21-Nicole Barnhart.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 3-Stina Segerstrom (9-Therese Lundin, 81), 4-Hanna Marklund, 13-Frida Ostberg, 16-Anna Paulson; 5-Caroline Seger, 8-Lotta Schelin, 15-Therese Sjogran (18-Nilla Fischer, 65), 20-Linda Forsberg; 10-Hanna Ljungberg, 11-Victoria Svensson – Capt.
Subs not used: 2-Karolina Westberg, 6-Sara Thunebro, 7-Sara Larsson, 12-Sofia Lundgren, 14-Sara Johansson, 17-Madelaine Edlund, 19-Charlotte Rohlin, 21-Kristin Hammarstrom.
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby
USA / SWE
Shots: 15 / 13
Shots on Goal: 8 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 6 / 8
Fouls: 9 / 9
Offside: 5 / 0
SWE – Stina Segerstrom (caution) 34th minute.
SWE – Caroline Seger (caution) 93+.
Referee: Gyongyi GAAL (HUN)
Asst. Referee: Maria Luisa Villa GUTIERREZ (ESP)
Asst. Referee: Cristina CINI (ITA)
Fourth Official: Christine BECK (GER)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach