GUANGZHOU, China (January 30, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got a thunderous strike from midfielder Lori Chalupny in stoppage time of the first half, and an opportunistic 56th minute goal from Natasha Kai to defeat host China 2-0 and win the 2007 Four Nations Tournament.
With Germany and England tying 0-0 in the first match of the afternoon, the USA knew a victory by any margin would give them the tournament title, and the young U.S. team went after China from the opening whistle.
Chalupny’s goal came at the end of a dominating first half by the Americans in which they out-shot China 9-1 and put intense pressure on the opposing goal. The goal came to fruition after forward Lindsay Tarpley worked hard to keep a fifty-fifty ball alive in the U.S. offensive third. Her pressure forced a Chinese defender to toe-poked the ball right into the path of Chalupny, who was running toward goal. She took a touch to her right to elude a defender and ripped a 26-yard thunderbolt into the upper right corner past flying Chinese ‘keeper Han Wenxia.
It was the fifth time in six trips to the Four Nations Tournament that the U.S. women have come away with the title, but the triumph was made even more impressive by the fact that U.S. head coach Greg Ryan came to the competition without five key veteran players.
“Today, we felt we could really come out and just go after China, pressure them in their half, go forward and create chances,” said Ryan. “It’s great for us to end the tournament on this note. They take a lot of confidence away from this, but even in the games that don’t go your way this is a very important process.”
It was the third international goal Chalupny, who played right midfield as Ryan put the team out in a 3-4-3 formation for the first time in his tenure. Except for two dangerous Chinese counter attacks and brief offensive surge about 20 minutes into the game, the USA team pinned the hosts into their half for the first 45 minutes.
The second goal came in the 56th minute right after Han had made a spectacular leaping save on Carli Lloyd’s screamer from 25 yards, just tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Heather O’Reilly took the ensuing corner kick from the left and drove it past the far post. Lloyd confidently brought the ball down with her chest, and then out of the air, lifted it away from two charging defenders to the inside. She tried a half-volley with her left from 14 yards, but the ball was blocked off the chest of a Chinese defender. Kai was on the spot to quickly poke the rebound into the right side of the net from eight yards out. It was Kai’s seventh international goal in just 20 career caps.
Lloyd, who played in the center midfield with Leslie Osborne, created danger all game for the USA with her outside shooting as well as several driven free kicks that caused the Chinese to scramble in the box.
China took five shots after the break, but all were from distance and most after the game was well in hand.
Defender Tina Frimpong, who started the game at marking back with Heather Mitts in front of sweeper Kate Markgraf, was forced to leave the game in the 38th minute. She got a knock on the head during one of China’s few good chances as Solo powered through a pack of players to punch a cross away from danger. Frimpong had been draped all over Chinese star Han Duan, allowing her nary a positive touch, and her teammates continued to shadow the speedy striker for the rest of the match.
Both Chalupny and Kai had cracks at the net in the early going after Lloyd had spun dangerous free kicks into the penalty area, but Chalupny’s fired high and Kai’s was blocked. It was Kai who produced one of the best chances of the first half as O’Reilly was the fulcrum of a counter attack and played the Hawaiian through into the right side of the penalty box. She beat a player with a burst of speed to her right and smacked her shot from 15 yards past Han, but inches wide of the left post.
The U.S. team never let the large Chinese crowd get into the match, although the hosts did put on some pressure in the late going. Solo was forced to catch two crosses and substitute Bi Yan gave the Americans a scare when she picked off an errant pass in the USA defensive third and fired a shot from 25 yards out. As she did with all of China’s five shots on goal, Solo was there to gobble it up. Solo also smothered a well-struck free kick from Li Jie in the 70th minute that had snuck past the U.S. defensive wall.
Defender India Trotter earned her second career cap, coming on for Markgraf in the 62nd minute. Trotter played just one minute of a match last year at the Four Nations Tournament, so the 29 minutes against China was effectively her first career action with the Women’s National Team. After the 21-year old defender came on, the USA moved to a 4-5-1 formation for the rest of the match, as Mitts and Cat
Cat Whitehill held down the middle, Stephanie Lopez moved from left midfield to left back and Trotter held down the right back spot.
China best chance of game in 79th minute when Ma Xiaoxu got behind U.S. defense on the left side, but with an open volley from 16 yards, she sailed her chance over the top.
While the USA won the tournament, England also came away with positive feelings from the competition despite not winning a game and finishing last. The English pulled off scoreless draws against the world’s top two teams in Germany and the USA and will take that momentum into this fall’s Women’s World Cup, their first since 1995.
England played even with the Germans in the day’s first match, and perhaps even had a bit more of the game, but like in their match against China two days ago, the Germans should have bagged a few goals. Fatmire Bajramaj missed a sitter in the first half and Anja Mittag cracked a 20-yard free kick off the crossbar in the 42nd minute. England had several close scoring chances in the last few minutes as dangerous crosses flashed through the goal area, but no one could get their head on the ball.
Germany’s tournament was summed up on the last kick of the game as Mittag hit a 19-yard free kick right into England goalkeeper Rachel Brown’s hands. The final whistle blew seconds later.
England’s draw against the Germans was the first tie after 15 consecutive losses to the reigning Women’s World Cup champions. The Germans, who left six highly experienced players back home, including all-time leading scorer Birgit Prinz, could not manage a goal over the three matches.
The USA and China were the only teams to win games in the tournament that featured four ties.
Ryan, who remains undefeated as head coach of the USA at 27-0-7, was named Best Coach of the tournament and Solo picked up the Best Goalkeeper award. England captain Kelly Smith was named Best Player and China earned the Fair Play Award. As six different players scored one goal each, there was no Top Scorer award for the competition.
The USA will return home for a two-weak break before coming together in mid-February for a training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. In late February, the USA will leave for the annual Algarve Cup in southern Portugal, this year being staged from March 7-14.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. China
Competition: 2007 Four Nations Tournament
Venue: Guangdong Olympic Stadium; Guangzhou, China
Date: January 30, 2007; Kickoff – 4:00 p.m. local / 3:00 a.m. ET
Weather: Hazy, cool – 58 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
CHN 0 0 0
USA – Lori Chalupny (unassisted) 46+.
USA – Natasha Kai (unassisted) 56.
USA - 18-Hope Solo; 15-Kate Markgraf – Capt. (27-India Trotter, 62), 2-Heather Mitts, 8-Tina Frimpong (4-Cat Whitehill, 38); 17-Lori Chalupny, 12-Leslie Osborne, 11-Carli Lloyd (20-Yael Averbuch, 71), 14-Stephanie Lopez; 5-Lindsay Tarpley (23-Joanna Lohman, 77), 6-Natasha Kai, 9-Heather O’Reilly (16-Angela Hucles, 81).
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 7-Marci Miller, 25-Lauren Cheney, 26-Casey Nogueira.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
CHN – 1-Han Wenxia; 3-Li Ji, 4-Weng Xinzhi, 5-Pu Wei, 6-Zhang Ying (13-Li DongLing, 78), 15-Zhou Gaoping (2-Liu Huana, 46); 8-Yue Min (7-Bi Yan, 58), 12-Zhang Tong, 21-Lou Xiaoxu (10-Ma Xiaoxu, 62); 20-Liu Sa, 9-Han Duan.
Subs not used: 14-Wang Kun, 18-Zhang Yanru, 19-Qu Feifei, 23-Li Dongna, 24-Chen Xiaoxia.
Head Coach: Wang Haiming
Statistical Summary: USA / CHN
Shots: 13 / 7
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 5 / 1
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 3 / 1
CHN – Zhang Tong (caution) 51st minute.
CHN – Liu Sa (caution) 67.
Referee: Amy Rayner (ENG)
Asst. Referee: Liu Hongjuan (CHN)
Asst. Referee: Hu An Qi (CHN)
4th Official: Qu Xiaoguang (CHN)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Natasha Kai
2007 Four Nations Tournament Final Standings
Team W L T Pts. GF GA GD
USA 1 0 2 5 3 1 +2
CHN 1 1 1 4 2 0 +2
GER 0 0 3 3 0 0 0
ENG 0 1 2 2 1 3 -2
2007 Four Nations Tournament Final Goal Scorers
Player, Country Goals
Zhang Ying, China 1
Han Duan, China 1
Alex Scott, England 1
Heather O’Reilly, USA 1
Lori Chalupny, USA 1
Natasha Kai, USA 1
2007 Four Nations Tournament Awards
Best Player: Kelly Smith, England
Best Coach: Greg Ryan, USA
Best Goalkeeper: Hope Solo, USA
Fair Play Award: China