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U.S. Women Tie France, 0-0, at Four Nations Tournament; Face China on Sunday with Title on the Line

  • Americans Outshoot France 11-3, but Defense Rules in Scoreless Draw
  • U.S. Must Defeat China on Sunday, Jan. 22, in Final Match to Win Four Nations Title

GUANGZHOU, China (January 20, 2006) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team ran into a tough and committed France team in its second match of the Four Nations Tournament, could not manufacture a goal, and had to settle for a 0-0 tie.

“Both defenses and goalkeepers had outstanding matches,” said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan. “It’s very difficult to play against such tight numbers and tight space, but I am very happy with our team. It’s part of our development to learn how to play in this environment and learn how to break down teams even when it’s very difficult like it was with France today.”

The USA opened the four-team competition with an exciting 3-1 victory over Norway and with four points after two games, need a win over China in front of a wildly partisan crowd in the last match on January 22 to take the tournament title. The USA-China clash kicks off at 4 p.m. local time / 3 a.m. ET at Guangdong Olympic Stadium.

China defeated Norway, 3-1, in the misty rain on a goal from Han Duan in the last minute of the first half, a 23-yard blast from Bi Yan in the 54th and a header by Ma Xiao Xu in the 68th. China and the USA both have four points and a plus-two goal differential after two matches, meaning a draw between the two teams on Sunday could give China the title based on more goals scored.

France still has a chance to win the tournament if the USA and China draw and France wins by more than two goals over Norway, which has lost by two goals in both of its matches so far.
The USA out-shot France 11-3 for the match and, in a game where space in the midfield was at a premium, pounded on the French defense for 90 minutes with no reward.

France played in a 4-4-2 system with their forwards dropping way back and rarely looked inspired to score a goal, but were certainly dead set against allowing one. The French back line, and particularly defender Laura Georges, did a fine job of keeping a body on U.S. forward Abby Wambach, who rarely got a touch on the ball that did not also involve a shove in the back.

The skillful French did have some good possession in the match, but aside from a few dangerous counter-attacks that were well contained by the U.S. back line of Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Tina Frimpong and Lori Chalupny, and a chance off a corner-kick that the Americans failed to clear in the 32nd minute, they did not come close to breaking through the U.S. defense. France had just one shot in the second half, a spinning header that was easily handled by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.

At the other end of the field, the Americans at times pinned France inside its own half for long stretches, but with the midfield so densely populated, they struggled to find openings to release the forwards into dangerous spaces. The USA almost got on the board just six minutes in when Wambach powered behind the French defense into the left side of the penalty box and crossed to Kristine Lilly, but her flying volley went wide.

The U.S. didn’t threaten again until the 58th minute when a corner kick, taken from the left, found its way across the goal to the right side of the penalty box. The ball was chipped back into the middle where the sliding LePeilbet got a foot on the ball, but couldn’t turn it towards the net.

In the 65th minute, Lilly got around the defense on the right flank and lifted a cross into the middle. Aly Wagner slightly overran the service, couldn’t get her body in position to re-direct the ball, and her diving header went wide right.

The U.S. team briefly had visions of a penalty kick in the 79th minute when Wambach was taken down less than a yard outside the penalty area on the right wing. Lilly had scored from that side of the penalty box against Norway, but this chance was from a far steeper angle just 14 yards from the end line, and the U.S. captain fired her shot over the goal.

The USA produced a flurry in the last 10 minutes of the game, including a series that saw two consecutive corner kicks. The USA’s best chance of the game came in the 84th minute as Wambach flicked a long ball onto Lilly inside the penalty box and the midfielder squeezed past a defender. She shot with her left foot as she fell away from the goal from 12 yards out, but the ball trickled wide, just inches outside the right post.

Substitute Leslie Osborne had a good swing on a volley off a cross from Lilly in the 86th minute, but sailed it high over the net. The French, having repelled the USA’s attacking pressure for 90 minutes, celebrated at the final whistle.

With the shutout, the first of the year for Solo and 10th of her young career, the U.S. has not allowed a goal from the run of play in the last 1,108 minutes dating back to the end of 2004.
This was the first-ever draw for France against the United States, which had won the previous 10 matches between the two teams.


Match-up: USA vs. France
Four Nations Tournament
Venue: Guangdong Olympic Stadium; Guangzhou, China.
Date: January 20, 2006; Kickoff – 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
Attendance: 2,500
Weather: Cool, hazy – 58 degrees

Scoring Summary: 
                1     2     F
USA          0     0     0
FRA          0     0     0

USA - 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 23-Tina Frimpong, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 17-Lori Chalupny; 7-Shannon Boxx, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (12-Leslie Osborne, 70), 10-Aly Wagner; 20-Abby Wambach, 9-Heather O’Reilly (19-Christie Welsh, 63), 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt.
Subs not used: 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Stephanie Lopez, 8-Carli Lloyd, 11-Angie Woznuk, 21-Marci Miller, 27-India Trotter, 28-Jenni Branam.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

FRA - 1-Sarah Bouhaddi, 3-Peggy Provost, 4-Laura Georges, 5-Sabrina Viguier, 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand, 7-Sandrine Dusang (2-Anne-Laure Casseleux, 89), 8-Sonia Bompastor – Capt., 11-Laetitia Tonazzi, 13-Ludivine Diguelman (20-Camille Abily, 67) 15-Elise Bussaglia, 18-Hoda Lattaf.
Subs not used: 9-Elodie Thomas, 10-Lilas Traikia, 12-Laure LePailleur, 14-Louisa Necib, 16-Celine Deville, 17-Marie-Ange Karmo, 19-Amelie Coquet.
Head Coach: Elisabeth Loisel

Statistical Summary:
Shots: 11 / 3
Shots on Goal: 1 / 1
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 5 / 13
Offside: 2 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
FRA – Sandrine Dusang (caution) 82nd minute.

Referee: Deng Jun Xia (China)
AR 1: Fu Hong Jue (China)
AR 2: Li Hong (China) Woman of the Match: Heather Mitts

2006 Four Nations Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
CHN 1 0 1 4 4 2 +2
USA 1 0 1 4 3 1 +2
FRA 0 0 2 2 1 1 0
NOR 0 2 0 0 2 6 -4

Jan. 18
USA 3, Norway 1
China 1, France 1

Jan. 20
USA 0, France 0
China 3, Norway 1

Jan. 22
France vs. Norway 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. China 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET