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Megan Rapinoe

U.S. Women's National Team Falls 2-1 to England

• Megan Rapinoe Scores Lone U.S. Goal in 39th Minute
• Goalkeeper Hope Solo Makes Return to the Action, Playing Entire Second Half
• USA Now Heads to Scotland for Four More Days of Training
• Next Matches for U.S. are Domestic Friendlies with Japan on May 14 in Columbus, Ohio and May 18 in Cary, N.C.

LONDON (April 2, 2011) – In the U.S. Women’s National Team’s first match in England, the U.S. fell to the hosts 2-1 in front of a boisterous crowd at Brisbane Road. Megan Rapinoe scored the lone goal for the Americans in the first half after the U.S. went behind by two goals early in the match.

England came out of the gate with bundles of energy and on a bumpy, muddy field the U.S. team had difficulty coping with the pressure. England was surely the better team through the first 45 minutes, attacking at pace while out-shooting the USA and creating more dangerous opportunities.

England scored just eight minutes into the game after an attack down the left side produced a cross that was blocked up in the air. It was headed down inside the penalty area at the top of the six yard box and fell to Jess Clark, who had plenty of time to gather herself and drive a half volley shot into the left corner from 10 yards out.

The U.S. team committed far too many fouls in their own defensive third during the first half and midfielder Fara Williams almost made them pay twice, striking a free kick off the top of the crossbar in the 19th minute while hitting one just over the top in the 32nd.

England’s second goal was off a classic counterattack as star midfielder Kelly Smith ran at least 50 yards with the ball to the top of the U.S. penalty area before playing a pass to her left to Rachel Yankey. The England left side winger hit a perfect shot across the goal and into the upper right corner, giving U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart no chance.

The USA struggled to find any attacking rhythm in the first half, but settled down as the half progressed. The USA pulled a goal back six minutes before halftime when Shannon Boxx won a tackle in midfield, poking the ball to Rapinoe, who took off on a run ran straight up the center of England’s defense. Rapinoe dribbled to the top of the penalty arc and drilled a low right-footed shot into the left corner of the net from 24 yards out to give the USA a key goal right before the break. It was Rapinoe’s 10th career international goal.

The second half was a polar opposite of the first as the USA dominated in the attack. After getting outshot 8-4 in the first half, the Americans kept England on its heels for the entire second half, firing 15 shots to England’s two and were unfortunate not to get a goal or two.

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made two changes at halftime, sending on Stephanie Cox for Amy LePeilbet and Hope Solo for Nicole Barnhart. It was Solo’s first match for the USA since last summer after recovering from major shoulder surgery this past fall. She was not forced to make a save as England’s two shots in the second half were searching efforts from Ellen White and Smith, but her booming kicks helped the U.S. keep the pressure on during the second half.

Sundhage also switched out both forwards during the second half, sending on Lauren Cheney for Abby Wambach, who started her first game for the USA since the Women’s World Cup qualifying two-game series against Italy last November, and Alex Morgan for Amy Rodriguez. Both young forwards helped turn the tide in the match, with Cheney holding the ball extremely well up top while slipping passes behind the defense and Morgan working for several excellent scoring chances.

The USA started the second half off well when Rodriguez unleashed a shot from 15 yards in the left side of the penalty box that drew a diving save from England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who is an American with a British father and plays for Sky Blue FC in WPS.

The USA continually won the ball in midfield in the second half and also created six corner kicks. In the 67th minute a U.S. corner kick from the right was cleared poorly and it fell to Rampone who fired on frame, but it was blocked in the mass of players in front of the goal. The ball deflected to Rachel Buehler who took a swing at the ball but sent it over the top.

Under intense pressure, England almost gifted the U.S. a goal in the 71st minute off a poor back pass from Rachel Unitt. The ball had too little pace on it and Heather O’Reilly swooped in to cut the pass off and find herself in a one-on-one situation with Bardsley, but she agonizingly spun her open shot just outside the left post from inside the penalty area.

The final 15 minutes featured a flurry of U.S. chances. In the 75th minute a Carli Lloyd free kick from 25 yards that seemed headed on frame was blocked by the England wall. One minute later, she made a nice run dribbling run into right side of box and pounded shot off the chest of Bardlsey, who couldn’t hold it, but Morgan’s follow up was also knocked down by the English ‘keeper.

A few minutes later, Morgan almost got in behind the defense off a Stephanie Cox cross from the left side, but was bundled down by Bardsley, who missed the skidding cross. Morgan couldn’t regain her feet in time to take a swing at the loose ball.

In the 80th minute, O’Reilly found Morgan from the right wing, sending a perfectly weighted ball over the England center back. Morgan brought it down well with her chest into the penalty box, but fired her half volley chance just over the left corner of the net.

Morgan was at it again in the 87th minute after a great tackle by O’Reilly won ball in England’s defensive third, but the forward’s bending shot was wide left of the goal from the top of the penalty area.

In the 89th minute, Tobin Heath’s free kick from left side flew through goal mouth and a pack of players, but no U.S. player could direct it on goal.

The match was the USA’s first loss to England since 1988. The USA had won seven and tied one over the last eight games. It was also the USA’s first loss in a friendly match since 2004.

The USA is preparing for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen. The USA will face Korea DPR, Colombia and Sweden in first round play.

The 16 nations competing are: host Germany, Korea DPR, Japan and Australia from Asia and Sweden, Norway, France and England from Europe, New Zealand from Oceania, the USA, Canada and Mexico from CONCACAF, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea from Africa and Brazil and Colombia from South America.

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. England
Date: April 2, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Matchroom Stadium; London, England
Kickoff: 8 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET
Attendance: 5,801
Weather: 58 degrees – Cool, clear

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

ENG – Jess Clarke                               8th minute
ENG – Rachel Yankey (Kelly Smith)       26
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Shannon Boxx) 39

USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart (1-Hope Solo, 46); 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler, 6-Amy LePeilbet (14-Stephanie Cox, 46); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (17-Tobin Heath, 70); 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 70), 20-Abby Wambach (12-Lauren Cheney, 62)
Subs not used: 4-Yael Averbuch, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 16-Lori Lindsey, 21-Kelley O’Hara, 22-Becky Sauerbrunn, 24-Ashlyn Harris, 25-Meghan Klingenberg
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

ENG: 1-Karen Bardsley; 2-Alex Scott, 6-Casey Stoney, 5-Faye White (capt.) (21-Sophie Bradley, 68), 3-Rachel Unitt, 8-Jill Scott, 4-Fara Williams, 7-Jess Clarke, 10-Kelly Smith, 11-Rachel Yankey (19-Karen Carney, 75), 9-Ellen White
Subs not used: 12-Anita Asante, 13-Rachel Brown, 14-Eniola Aluko, 15-Lindsay Johnson, 16-Sue Smith, 17-Steph Houghton, 18-Laura Bassett, 20-Claire Rafferty, 22-Siobhan Chamberlain, 23-Dunia Susi, 24-Natasha Dowie
Head Coach: Hope Powell

Statistical Summary: USA / ENG
Shots: 19 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 9 / 3
Fouls: 11 / 16
Offside: 3 / 3

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Sian Massey (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Sarah Hollins (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Rebecca Scott-Mullen (ENG)
Fourth Official: Lucy May (ENG)

Bud Light Woman of the Match: 

Lauren Cheney