SHANGHAI, China (Sept. 30, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got the first two goals from Abby Wambach and single scores from Lori Chalupny and Heather O’Reilly in a 4-1 dismantling of Norway to take third place in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The victory means that the USA is the only country to finish in the top three in all five Women’s World Cup tournaments that have been contested.
The two goals gave Wambach six in six Women’s World Cup matches and won her the Silver Shoe as the tournament’s second leading scorer. The goals also upped her career total to nine over two Women’s World Cup tournaments, moving her past Mia Hamm and into second place on the USA’s all-time WWC scoring list behind only the great Michelle Akers (12).
In the first match on the brand new field at Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium (the turf was replaced after being torn up during a rainy first round), the U.S. players put together a magnificent effort to rebound from its disappointing semifinal loss to Brazil.
"I feel like in this tournament from the time I came for the draw, the U.S. was behind the eight ball because we had a very difficult group," said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan in assessing the tournament after Sunday's win. "And then in the first game with Abby getting stitches and having to pull a draw out against North Korea. Each game was so under the gun. It was hard for the players to just completely relax and play the kind of soccer that they love because each match became an elimination game for us. Tonight I was just so happy that the players just completely relaxed, played some great soccer and entertaining football with confidence in themselves and in their teammates."
With midfielder Shannon Boxx suspended due to her red card against Brazil, Ryan gave Aly Wagner her first start and first minutes of the tournament. The USA’s attacking midfielder, who has been recovering from a groin injury that kept her sidelined for most of 2007, put in an excellent performance while contributing to the USA’s ball possession and the win.
U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry was in total control during the match, cutting off numerous Norwegian long balls and handling crosses in her penalty area with aplomb. She could do nothing on Norway’s lone goal, a perfect arching header from star Ragnild Gulbrandsen in the 63rd minute, but by that time, the match was well in hand.
U.S. defender Kate Markgraf, who suffered an ankle sprain against Brazil, was not healthy enough to play and 22-year-old Marian Dalmy got her first-ever U.S. Women’s National Team start at right back, while Christie Rampone moved into the middle with Cat Whitehill. Dalmy was stellar in both her defending and attacking in just her fourth ever cap.
The United States played excellent rhythmical, attacking soccer for the entire 90 minutes, creating all sorts of scoring chances, eventually out-shooting Norway 23-7 while putting 10 shots on target to Norway’s two.
U.S. captain Kristine Lilly, playing in her final Women’s World Cup game in her record fifth tournament, played a consummate match, terrorizing Norway down both flanks all night long with dynamic dribbling runs and well-struck shots. Heather O’Reilly did the same, continually stretching Norway’s defense with her speed and earned the corner kick that led to the first goal in the 30th minute.
Stephanie Lopez, the 21-year-old defender and youngest player on the U.S. team, who played all but 45 minutes of the tournament, swung in the corner kick from the left that was punched away by Norwegian goalkeeper Bente Nordby. The ball dropped at the top of the penalty box where Chalupny hammered a low drive directly in the middle of the frame. Wambach was positioned in front of the net with her back to the goal and deftly flicked the ball with the inside of her right foot, re-directing it over a Norwegian defender’s leg and into the net for a much deserved goal after some sustained U.S. pressure.
With the USA peppering the Norwegian goal towards the end of the first half, Lilly almost doubled the lead if not for a spectacular save by Nordby in the 45th minute. Lilly raced past several defenders in the left side of the penalty box and sent a delicate chip from nearly on the end line that would have fallen into the side netting at the far post if Nordby hadn’t skied to tip it away. A minute earlier, Nordby had to punch away Lilly’s corner kick that was also headed into the net.
The USA came out rolling in the second half and within seconds of the restart had earned another corner kick. This also came from the left side as Lopez drilled the ball to the near post. Cat Whitehill got a foot on the ball, stealing it out of Nordby’s arms. Her close range shot clanked off the inside of the left post and bounced right into the middle of the six yard box. Wambach was first to it, slamming the ball home from less than a yard away.
"The first one, it’s a deflection goal," said Wambach describing her two tallies on the night. "It hits the inside of my calf. Chalupny, she is the one who basically produced that goal. Even the second one, Cat hits off the post on the corner kick, so I got pretty lucky to get the goals that I did today. More importantly, what I tried to do was leave every bit of energy and emotion that I had on that field. It’s not easy playing in the third place game but I was very proud of everyone."
The Americans then put the game away with two back-to-back goals in the 58th and 59th minutes. The first came from Chalupny, who played a world-class match in midfield. The score came after Wambach popped free down the left flank and sent a cross into the middle. The Norwegian clearance was blocked, but it fell to captain Ane Stangeland Horpestad, who tried to clear it again. Chalupny stuck out her foot and blocked the clearance right off her foot and straight into the net past the surprised Nordby from 12 yards out. It was Chalupny’s second goal of the tournament and sixth career score.
The third goal came seconds later, and seconds after Lindsay Tarpley had entered the game for Wagner. Tarpley struck a shot from the middle of the penalty area that was kicked saved by Nordby. Tarpley then hammered her own rebound back on goal, but Nordby couldn’t hold that one either, and the ball squirted left to O’Reilly, who blasted her right-footed shot into the net from close range. The goal was also O’Reilly’s second of the tournament, and 13th of her international career.
The USA attacked relentlessly all night, getting a dangerous shot from Lilly in just the third minute. In the seventh minute, O’Reilly earned a corner kick that led to a flurry in front of Norway’s net. Chalupny had a go from distance in the 11th minute and Wambach was taken down in the penalty area in the 17th on what could have been a penalty kick. One minute later, Nordby had to bundle a cross away from danger with her legs as Lilly closed hard. O’Reilly had a hard shot at goal in the 27th minute after a great series of U.S. possession, but it was chested away by a falling Marit Christensen. On the ensuing corner kick, Wambach headed over the cross bar.
Norway did have two free kicks in the first half from about 40 yards out straight away center, but neither resulted in a scoring chance. Norway also had a potential tying goal called back in the 41st minute that was clearly offside.
Rampone, who had an excellent World Cup tournament along with all the U.S. defenders, was forced to leave the left match at halftime after getting a knock on the head and suffering a slight concussion. She was replaced by Tina Ellertson, who played a solid 45 minutes next to Whitehill, winning numerous balls to start U.S. attacks.
Lilly walked off the field for the final time in a Women’s World Cup match in the 89th minute as she was replaced by Natasha Kai and received a rousing ovation from the sell-out crowd to celebrate her historic career. Lilly ends her Women's World Cup career having played in more World Cup matches (30) than any man or woman in history.
Marta of Brazil won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and the Golden Shoe as the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals. Germany’s Birgit Prinz won the Silver Ball and Brazil’s Cristiane won the Bronze Ball. Norway’s Gulbrandsen, who also scored six goals in the tournament, won the Bronze Shoe. Norway won the FIFA Fair Play Award, and Germany’s Nadine Angerer, who saved Marta’s penalty kick in the Final that would have tied the match, was chosen at the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper.
The U.S. team will have some time off before regrouping in St. Louis, Mo., to face Mexico at the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday, Oct. 13, in the first of the final three matches of 2007. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. CT. The USA will then travel west to face the Tricolores on Oct. 17 at PGE Park in Portland, Ore. with a 7 p.m. PT kickoff. The final match, also against Mexico, will take place on Oct. 20 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., with a 4:30 p.m. MT kickoff. For ticket information for all three matches, fans go to www.ussoccer.com.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Norway
Competition: 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Third Place Match
Venue: Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium – Shanghai, China
Date: Sept. 30, 2007; Kickoff – 5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Weather: Partly cloudy, breezy – 79 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 3 4
NOR 0 1 1
USA – Abby Wambach (Lori Chalupny) 30th minute.
USA – Abby Wambach (Cat Whitehill) 46.
USA – Lori Chalupny (unassisted) 58.
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Lindsay Tarpley) 59.
NOR – Ragnhild Gulbrandsen (Camilla Huse) 63.
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 2-Marian Dalmy, 3-Christie Rampone (8-Tina Ellertson, 46), 4-Cat Whitehill, 14-Stephanie Lopez; 12-Leslie Osborne, 17-Lori Chalupny, 10-Aly Wagner (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 59); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt. (6-Natasha Kai, 89).
Subs not used: 11-Carli Lloyd, 15-Kate Markgraf, 16-Angela Hucles, 19-Marci Jobson, 21-Nicole Barnhart.
Suspended: 7-Shannon Boxx.
Not active: 18-Hope Solo.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
NOR: 1-Bente Nordby; 2-Ane Stangeland Horpestad - Capt., 3-Gunhild Folstad (15-Madeleine Gisk, 57), 6-Camilla Huse, 19-Marit Christensen; 4-Ingvild Stensland, 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 18-Marie Knutsen, 21-Lene Storlokken (14-Guro Knutsen, 61); 10-Melissa Wiik (9-Isabell Herlovsen, 78), 16-Ragnhild Gulbrandsen.
Subs not used: 5-Siri Nordby, 7-Trine Ronning, 11-Leni Larsen Kaurin, 12-Erika Skarbo, 13-Christine Nilsen, 17-Lene Mykjaland, 20-Lise Klaveness.
Head Coach: Bjarne Berntsen
USA / NOR
Shots: 23 / 7
Shots on Goal: 10 / 2
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Fouls: 5 / 11
Offside: 2 / 1
USA – Lori Chalupny (caution) 28th minute.
Referee: Gyoengyi Gaal (HUN)
Asst. Referee Maria Luisa Villa Gutierrez (ESP)
Asst. Referee Miriam Draeger (GER)
Fourth Official: Christine Beck (GER)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Lori Chalupny