SHENYANG, China (August 12, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team won Group G at the 2008 Olympics in dramatic fashion, defeating New Zealand, 4-0, as four different players scored, including a goal just 40 seconds into the match from midfielder Heather O’Reilly.
The Americans went into the match knowing they needed a big win over New Zealand as well as a Japan victory over Norway in order to win the group, and that’s exactly how the evening’s events transpired.
The USA and Norway tied on points at the end of group play with six a piece, but the Americans finished with a plus-3 goal differential while Norway collapsed in a 5-1 loss to Japan and finished with a minus-1. The USA, Norway and Japan advance out of Group G. In the quarterfinal, the U.S. will play long-time rival Canada, which finished in third place in Group E. That match will take place at 6 p.m. local time / 6 a.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 15 in Shanghai, and will be broadcast live on USA Network. Fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.
“I think it’s fantastic that fact that we bounced back from the first 15 minutes against Norway,” said Sundhage. “You look at the first 15 minutes of that game to the last 15 minutes of this game and many things have happened. The whole team, and myself, have gained confidence every minute we’ve been together. The good part of this road is that we have experienced both sides: losing and winning. That’s good going into the quarterfinals where it’s now or never.”
The fortunes of the Group G teams flip-flopped during a short span in the second half. The U.S. was up 2-0 at halftime through goals from O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez while Norway scored first in their match but Japan equalized before the break. Japan went ahead in the 51st minute, benefiting from an own goal, then made it 3-1 just one minute later. That score line meant the U.S. needed just one more goal to win the group – provided the Norway vs. Japan score stayed the same -- and just minutes later Lindsay Tarpley got it. The USA would add another goal four minutes after that while Japan piled two more on Norway.
Amazingly, at the start of the day, the USA has a minus-1 goal differential and Norway had a plus-three goal differencial. At the end of the evening, the USA was at plus-three and Norway was at minus-1.
The match marked the 200th international appearance for U.S. captain Christie Rampone, who led the U.S. backline in limiting the Kiwis to just three shots on goal. U.S. defender Rachel Buehler earned her first Olympic start in the match, joining the backline in place of Kate Markgraf, who was rested for the match.
O’Reilly’s record-setting goal – the fasted in Olympic women’s soccer history -- broke the mark set, ironically, by Norway against the USA in the first match of the group and it was a masterful strike from the 23-year old midfielder. New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon cleared a ball into midfield that Carli Lloyd jumped up to win on a header. The ball fell onto the path of O’Reilly, who took a few touches and saw the ‘keeper off her line. O’Reilly let loose a dipping shot that sailed over Bindon from 30 yards and stuck in the right corner of the net.
It was O’Reilly’s 20th international goal and her second career score in Olympic competition after also scoring in the 2004 Olympic semifinal.
Tarpley almost added another in the 15th minute, receiving the ball on the left flank and beating Rhea Percival with a quick cut inside. Tarpley carried the ball into the area and took a shot that clattered off the left post with the New Zealand goalkeeper already beaten.
Rodriguez added the second goal for the U.S. in the 43rd minute running under a long ball from Buehler, who had played it perfectly into space behind the Kiwi defense. Rodriguez used her speed to out-race the back line before cracking a left-footer that skipped into the far post past Bindon and into the lower right corner. It was the first-ever Olympic goal for Rodriguez and the sixth of her international career.
The third U.S. goal, which put the USA atop the group to stay, came in the 57th minute after Hucles did well to put Rodriguez behind the New Zealand backline with a slipped pass. Rodriguez faced Bindon one-on-one in the area but the New Zealand ‘keeper did well to come off her line and make a great reflex save. The rebound bounced into the middle of the penalty box where O’Reilly was crashing. O’Reilly got a toe on the ball, but the defense blocked it, sending it into the middle of the area. Tarpley reacted quickest to this one and volleyed clinically into the right corner of the net for her 28th career goal and 11th of 2008.
Just four minutes later, Hucles got a goal of her own when Lori Chalupny ran the ball up the left flank, beat her defender to the inside and blasted a shot from the top left corner of the area that flew past an outstretched Bindon and pinged off the top right corner of the goal. The bounce fell right to Hucles, who was able to pivot and loft her shot towards the net. Bindon got two hands on it, but the pace was such that she couldn’t hold it, and it fell through her hands and into the net. It was Hucles’ first-ever Olympic goal and her fourth of 2008.
The U.S. did well to control the tempo of the match, allowing New Zealand only five total shots while taking 16 of their own. The best chance for the Kiwis didn’t come until the first minute of stoppage time when defender Anna Green carried the ball up the left flank and fired a long blast that headed for the upper left corner. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was there to cover the angle, although the shot went wide as it hit the side netting.
Friday’s match will mark the fifth time that the U.S. faces Canada in 2008, and the fourth time in tournament play. The U.S. defeated Canada, 4-0, in the opening match of the Four Nations Tournament in January. Both Canada and the U.S. qualified for the Olympics in March, facing each other in the final of the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Ciudad Juarez, with the U.S. earning the regional title, 6-5, in penalty kicks after drawing, 1-1, in regulation. The two teams also met in a friendly match in May in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. coming away with a 6-0 win. In the most recent meeting, the U.S. defeated Canada, 1-0, for the Peace Queen Cup title in June.
This is the fourth time in as many Olympic women’s soccer tournaments that the U.S. women have advanced out of first round play as the group winner.
-- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT --
Match-up: USA vs. New Zealand
Competition: 2008 Olympics
Venue: Shenyang Olympic Stadium; Shenyang, China
Date: August 12, 2008; Kickoff – 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET
Weather: Hazy, Humid, 78 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 2 4
NZL 0 0 0
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Carli Lloyd) 1st minute.
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Rachel Buehler) 43.
USA – Lindsay Tarpley (unassisted) 56.
USA – Angela Hucles (Lori Chalupny) 60.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (14-Stephanie Cox, 63), 4-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 83, 17-Lori Chalupny; 9-Heather O’Reilly (10-Aly Wagner, 76), 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley; 16-Angela Hucles, 8-Amy Rodriguez (6-Natasha Kai, 56)
Subs not used: 1-Nicole Barnhart, 12-Lauren Cheney, 13-Tobin Heath, 15-Kate Markgraf
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
NZL: 1-Jenny Bindon; 2-Ria Percival, 5-Abby Erceg, 6-Rebbecca Smith, 17-Marlies Oostdam (14-Kristy Hill, 64); 4-Katie Hoyle (3-Anna Green, 64), 8-Hayley Moorwood, 11-Kristy Yallop; 7-Ali Riley, 9-Amber Heam, (13-Rebecca Tegg, 74), 15-Emma Kete
Subs not used: 10-Emily McColl, 12-Merissa Smith, 7-Renee Leota, 18-Rachel Howard
Head Coach: John Herdman
USA / NZL
Shots on Goal: 11/3
Corner Kicks: 4/2
NZL – Marlies Oostdam (caution) 46th minute.
NZL – Amber Heam (caution) 55.
Referee: Dagmar Damkova (CZE)
Asst. Referee: Irina Mirt (ROM)
Asst. Referee: Katarzyna Nadolska (POL)
4th Official: Huijun Niu (CHN)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Shannon Boxx
2008 Olympic Women’s Soccer Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
USA 2 1 0 6 5 2 +3
NOR 2 1 0 6 4 5 -1
JPN 1 1 1 4 7 1 +3
NZL 0 2 1 1 2 7 -5
Japan 2, New Zealand 2
Norway 2, USA 0
USA 1, Japan 0
New Zealand 0, Norway 1
Norway 1. Japan 5
USA 4, New Zealand, 0
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
CHN 2 0 1 7 5 2 +3
SWE 2 1 0 6 4 3 +1
CAN 1 1 1 4 4 4 0
ARG 0 3 0 0 1 5 -4
Argentina 1, Canada 2
China 2, Sweden 1
Sweden 1, Argentina 0
Canada 1, China 1
China 2, Argentina 0
Sweden 2, Canada 1
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
BRA 2 0 1 7 5 2 +3
GER 2 0 1 7 2 0 +2
PRK 1 2 0 3 2 3 -1
NGA 0 3 0 0 0 5 -5
Germany 0, Brazil 0
North Korea 1, Nigeria 0
Nigeria 0, Germany 1
Brazil 2, North Korea 1
North Korea 0, Germany 1
Nigeria 1, Brazil 3
United States vs. Canada, 6 a.m. ET
Brazil vs. Norway, 6 a.m. ET
Sweden vs. Germany 9 a.m. ET
China vs. Japan, 9 a.m. ET