SANDY, Utah (March 31, 2010) – The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Mexico 1-0 on snow-covered field as Abby Wambach scored the game’s lone goal in the 60th minute. It marked the first time in the 26-year, 443-game history of the U.S. Women that the team has played a game in snow.
The snow fell throughout the morning and afternoon before kickoff, and kept falling during the entire 90 minutes, increasing in intensity during the second half. The snow blanketed the pitch, making for some unique conditions as the players struggled to connect short passes that got caught up in the snow and had difficulty keeping their feet in the slippery conditions.
Despite the weather, the U.S. team created a good number of dangerous chances, but Mexican goalkeeper Erika Vanegas played a fantastic match, making 12 saves including several spectacular stops.
The USA finally broke through the slush and Mexico when Carli Lloyd dribbled up the middle and slipped a short pass into the left side of the penalty area to Shannon Boxx. The U.S. captain took a touch towards the endline and slid a hard cross through the six-yard box to Wambach, who stepped in front of a defender and tapped the ball into the open net from a yard out.
Wambach then led a group of U.S. players into the right corner for a group session of snow angels. Several U.S. defenders who weren’t involved in the celebration dropped to the snow near midfield and made snow angles of their own.
The goal was the 105th of Wambach’s international career, tying her with the legendary Michelle Akers for third on the USA’s all-time scoring list behind only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (129).
The U.S. team appropriately wore white jerseys, shorts and socks during a match in which a bright yellow Nike ball was used on a field covered in white. Mexico battled gamely through the tough conditions as well, but could not get behind U.S. center backs Rachel Buehler and Amy LePeilbet, who did an excellent job of running down numerous through balls and keeping possession for their team.
Among Vanegas’ better saves were a seventh-minute stop at the feet of Amy Rodriguez, who had busted through in the right side of the penalty area, a stoning of Carli Lloyd’s one-on-one chance in the 14th minute and a great flying tip of Wambach’s left-footed bender that was headed into the left side-netting in the 19th minute. Venegas also came out bravely for a skipping cross from the right side by Rodriguez that Lilly would have gotten a toe on had it not been for the charging Mexican goalkeeper.
She also snagged a low drive from Rodriguez in the 25th minute with a diving stab to her left and then batted away a looping shot by Boxx in the 35th minute. Six minutes before halftime, Heather O’Reilly broke through in the right side of the penalty box and dribbled almost to the corner of the six yard box before trying her luck with a high drive to the near post, but once again Vanegas got a hand on the ball to tip it over for a corner kick.
To cap her brilliant half, Vanegas took a cross off the head of Wambach in the final seconds before the break.
In the 77th minute, substitute Kelley O’Hara latched onto a long cross in the right side of the box, lost her defender on a great inside cut and then fired at goal, but somehow the Mexican ‘keeper got a glove on it to push the ball wide.
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made all six of her allowed substitutions, which included giving first-ever caps to forward Alex Morgan, who played the entire second half, and defender Brittany Taylor, who played the last 12 minutes.
The match also marked the first start for Lilly since Oct. 20, 2007. Lilly, who increased her world record cap total to 344, had several good chances to score in the first half and did some fine work down the left wing despite the ever-deepening snow drifts on the flanks.
The USA moved to 6-0-0 in 2010 and extended its unbeaten streak in domestic matches to 43 games. The U.S. players will now return to their WPS clubs for the opening of the second season of the professional league which kicks off April 10 and 11.
Sundhage will not call the team together again until mid-May to prepare for the match against Germany on May 22 as the world’s top two teams meet at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, at 6 p.m. ET live on ESPN2.
- U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT -
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: March 31, 2010
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Rio Tinto Sadium; Sandy, Utah
Kickoff: 7 p.m. MT
Weather: 34 degrees; cold, steady snow fall
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
MEX 0 0 0
USA – Abby Wambach (Shannon Boxx) 60th minute
USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 4-Cat Whitehill (22-Brittany Taylor, 79), 26-Rachel Buehler, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 14-Stephanie Cox (17-Meghan Schnur, 61); 9-Heather O’Reilly (19-Kelley O’Hara, 61), 7-Shannon Boxx (Capt.) (5-Lori Lindsey, 73), 10-Carli Lloyd, 13-Kristine Lilly (16-Casey Nogueira, 46); 8-Amy Rodriguez (21-Alex Morgan, 46), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 1-Hope Solo
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
MEX: 1-Erika Vanegas; 22-Alina Garciamendez, 3-Rubi Sandoval, 4-Marylin Diaz, 13-Lulu Gordillo (2-Leticia Villalpando, 31), 5-Maria Castillo, 8-Guadalupe Worbis (Capt.)(6-Monica Vergara, 90), 11-Nayeli Rangel, 10-Maribel Dominguez, 17-Veronica Perez (7-Evelyn Lopez, 69), 19-Dinora Garza (15-Luz Saucedo, 61)
Subs not used:, 9-Monica Ocampo, 12-Pamela Tajonar, 20-Lili Godoy, 21-Kaylie Garcia
Head Coach: Leo Cuellar
Statistical Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 20 / 4
Shots on Goal: 13 / 2
Saves: 2 / 12
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 9 / 6
Offside: 2 / 3
USA – Carli Lloyd (caution) 71st minute
Referee: Jennifer Bennett (USA)
Asst. Referee: Veronica Perez (USA)
Asst. Referee: Deborah Coleman (USA)
Fourth Official: Karen Abt (USA)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: