- Wambach Increases International Goal Total to 64 in 79 Games
- USA Women Return to Action Next in South Korea on Oct. 29 vs. Denmark in Peace Queen Cup
RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 8, 2006) – The U.S. Women’s National Team finished its 2006 schedule of domestic friendly matches with a 2-1 victory against Iceland as forward Abby Wambach scored twice to pace the USA, including a dramatic game-winning goal two minutes into second half stoppage time after Iceland had equalized with one minute left in regulation.
It rained almost non-stop in Richmond for the two days prior to the match, making the field a bit soft, but the precipitation stayed away on game day and, just before kickoff, a bright sunshine bathed the field, lasting throughout the match.
Despite the narrow score line, the Americans put together one of their best performances of the year, inflicting heavy pressure on Iceland the entire game. The U.S. would have produced many more goals with some sharper finishing and without the superb goalkeeping heroics of Iceland’s Thora Helgadottir, who made an amazing 14 saves in the match.
"I was really happy with the way we played," U.S. head coach Greg Ryan said. "We've been working on getting all of the players into the attack and I thought our backs did a great job getting forward. That just opened up the game.”
The U.S. team’s attack produced six corner kicks in the first 14 minutes and 14 total for the match as it out-shot Iceland 26-3, but it was Wambach who pounded away at the Iceland defense until it broke.
The 5-foot-11 forward had golden chances in the third minute (just a tad late on a slide chasing a Lindsay Tarpley cross), in the 18th minute (kick-saved by Helgadottir), in the 20th minute (a header off a Leslie Osborne cross that went wide left) and in the 25th minute (a header off a Lilly cross that went just wide right) before finally breaking through in the 34th minute.
The goal came off a perfect pass from midfielder Aly Wagner, who lofted the ball over the Iceland defense from inside the center circle. Wambach out-ran her mark, raced in on Helgadottir, faked her to the ground and dribbled around her to the left before slotting the ball in the open net from a tight angle just a few yards from the end line.
Iceland played a low pressure 4-5-1 formation and bunkered with as many as 10 players behind the ball, but the Americans did well to break it down with quick ball possession while changing the point of attack with speed and precision.
The U.S. back line and defensive midfielder Osborne also dealt well with the monster punts and free kicks from Helgadottir, that in the past have caused the USA problems, while winning the lion’s share of services as well as scrambling well to take possession of the second balls.
“We also worked on changing the field a lot because they play a compact system and we needed to spread the field,” said Ryan. “We did that really well and created maybe enough chances to win five games, but it was just one of those games where it was difficult to get a goal and their goalkeeper stood on her head. She was fantastic."
Tarpley, making just her fourth-ever start at forward for the USA, had several chances, but none better than in the 44th minute after forward Kristine Lilly made a great penetrating run down the left flank and cut a pass back to her in the slot. Tarpley’s left-footed shot from six-yards out was low and on-frame, but somehow Helgadottir recovered back into the middle of her goal and stuffed the shot, then pounced on the rebound after Tarpley almost had another chance at the rebound.
Carli Lloyd, who played a stellar match in the midfield for the USA, had good chances on either side of halftime, both denied by Helgadottir. In the 43rd minute, Lloyd had a blast through traffic from 14 yards out that was kicked saved by the Iceland goalkeeper and then in the 54th minute, a header from seven yards out looked like it would fly into the upper right corner before Helgadottir tipped the ball over the cross bar with a spectacular save. Lloyd also had a point-blank half-volley turned away by the Iceland ‘keeper in the 29th minute after she had brought a ball down with her chest at the right elbow of the goal box.
In the 60th minute Lilly momentarily scored a clincher for the USA, but it was correctly nullified for offside. The U.S. captain, who extended her world-record for caps by playing in her 313th match, had shots saved by Helgadottir in the 65th and 71st minutes, followed by a header from substitute Natasha Kai in the 76th that was acrobatically pushed over the crossbar by the Iceland ‘keeper. Helgadottir came out of the game in the 78th minute to rousing applause from the Richmond fans who had been treated to one of the best goalkeeping displays against the USA in recent memory.
After Wagner missed just wide left from 19 yards out in the 86th minute, Iceland shockingly earned a chance to tie the match when defender Heather Mitts dove in a half-step late and cut down halftime substitute Greta Samuelsdottir on the left fringe of the penalty box. At the stroke of 89 minutes, Margret Lara Vidarsdottir, scorer of eight goals in Iceland’s recently completed yet ultimately unsuccessful Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign, took her penalty kick well, sticking it into the lower left corner past U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.
With four minutes of stoppage time added, the American team showed incredible character to roar back and get a winning goal, coming when Wambach took a pass from Stephanie Lopez at the top of the penalty box on the left side, held off a defender as she powered into the area and, as two defenders closed, struck a rolling shot across the face of the goal, off the right post and into the net. The goal upped Wambach’s international total to an incredible 64 scores in 79 career matches. For Lopez, a junior at the University of Portland who missed her team’s 3-0 win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs today, the assist marked her first career point for the senior National Team.
“I toe-poked it and it literally rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled," said Wambach of her winning goal. "It was not the prettiest of goals, but some of them aren't. And that's what true strikers do, they just score. It's not how, it's how many."
Lilly almost added another score before the end of the game, hitting a looping shot off the crossbar in the final minute of stoppage time.
At halftime, Ryan took off veteran defender Kate Markgraf, who was making just her second start since the birth of her baby son on July 18, and sent on Lopez. Mitts moved into the center for Markgraf, Lori Chalupny changed sides to right back and Lopez played the entire second half at left back.
Iceland midfielder Edda Gardarsdottir, who played her college soccer at the University of Richmond, came off in the 75th minute and soon after was sent off from bench for several choice words directed at the officials.
The U.S. team heads into a break before regrouping in late October to travel to South Korea for the 2006 Peace Queen Cup, to be held in six South Korean cities from Oct. 28-Nov. 4, and featuring eight women’s national teams. Six of the eight teams in the tournament have either already qualified or will likely be in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, including all three of the USA’s first-round opponents.
The USA opens Group B play against Denmark on Oct. 29 in Kimhae in the southeastern part of South Korea. The USA will then play Australia on Oct. 31 in Cheonan, outside of Seoul, before finishing group play against North Korea on Nov. 2 in Suwon, also outside of Seoul. The championship match, featuring the winners of the two groups, is on Nov. 4 in Seoul. Group A features South Korea, Brazil, Italy and Nigeria. These will be the first-ever games for the U.S. women in South Korea.
Following the Peace Queen Cup, the USA will go on a short break before reconvening at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to train for the 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, which will serve as qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Women’s Gold Cup will be held Nov. 22 and 26 at The HDC. The USA will find out its potential semifinal opponent tomorrow when the draw for the first-round matches is held at the CONCACAF headquarters in New York.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Iceland
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: University of Richmond Stadium; Richmond, Virginia
Date: Oct. 8, 2006; Kickoff – 2 p.m. ET
Weather: Cloudy, sunny – 63 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
ISL 0 1 1
USA – Abby Wambach (Aly Wagner) 34th minute.
ISL – Margret Lara Vidarsdottir (penalty kick) 89.
USA – Abby Wambach (Stephanie Lopez) 92+.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone, 15-Kate Markgraf (4-Stephanie Lopez, 46), 17-Lori Chalupny; 12-Leslie Osborne, 11-Carli Lloyd, 10-Aly Wagner; 5-Lindsay Tarpley (6-Natasha Kai, 68), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – (Capt).
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 8-Tina Frimpong, 16-Angela Hucles, 19-Christie Welsh, 21-Marci Miller.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
ISL: 1-Thora Helgadóttir (12-Gudbjorg Gunnarsdóttir, 78), 5-Asta Arnadóttir, 2-Gudrun Gunnarsdóttir (15-Gudny Odinsdóttir, 62), 11-Katrin Jonsdóttir, 6-Bryndis Bjarnadóttir (18-Helga Johannesdóttir, 62); 10-Dora Maria Larusdóttir (13-Greta Samuelsdóttir, 46), 4-Edda Gardarsdóttir (16-Embla Gretarsdóttir, 75), 8-Erna Sigurdardóttir (17-Harpa Thoresteinsdóttir, 75), 3-Holmfridur Magnusdottir, 9-Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir, 7-Erla Arnardóttir.
Subs not used: None.
Head Coach: Jorundur Sveinsson
Statistical Summary: USA / ISL
Shots: 26 / 3
Shots on Goal: 18 / 2
Saves: 1 / 15
Corner Kicks: 14 / 2
Fouls: 15 / 12
Offside: 3 / 0
USA – Abby Wambach (caution) 55th minute.
Referee: Sandra Serafini
AR1: Kim Oberle
AR2: Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Dan Stead
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach
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