SILVES, Portugal (March 7, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team put together an energetic performance in its opening game of the 2007 Algarve Cup, getting goals from Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd to defeat China, 2-1.
Most of the match was played under brilliant sunshine, but on a windy day both teams battled the conditions to produce some decent ball possession against good defensive pressure. The USA created far more scoring chances, with numerous shots coming from Sierra Mist Woman of the Match Carli Lloyd, but China made the most of their limited opportunities, scoring on its only dangerous shot of the game.
The USA ran up a 15-4 shot advantage with the Chinese putting just two of their shots on frame. The USA came out in a 3-4-3 formation with Cat Whitehill sweeping behind markers Christie Rampone and Tina Ellertson, with Stephanie Lopez and Lori Chalupny deployed on the flanks. Up front, the USA started with Abby Wambach and Lilly, who were playing in their first matches of 2007, alongside Heather O’Reilly.
The first U.S. goal came in the 19th minute after Whitehill’s long free kick was cleared over the sideline on the left flank. She took the throw-in herself, looping it to the posted-up Wambach at the edge of the six-yard box. Chinese defender Li Jie was draped all over Wambach before hauling down the powerful U.S. forward as Hungarian referee Gyongyi Gaal pointed to the penalty spot. The two players have a history as Li was also whistled for a penalty when she took down Wambach at the 2006 Four Nations Tournament in China, that time on a corner kick. Wambach returned the favor late in the match, earning a yellow card when her tough challenge forced the Chinese defender out of the match.
Lilly stepped up and hammered her spot kick into the right corner to give the USA the 1-0 lead. It was the U.S. captain’s 118th career goal, coming in her world record 320th international match.
China answered back almost immediately, tying the game inside of two minutes on a brilliantly executed free kick. Chinese forward Liu Sa bent the cross from the left flank into the U.S. penalty area and the cutting Han Duan got the slightest touch to the ball, re-directing her seven yard header low inside the far post. It was just China’s second goal against the USA in the teams’ last six meetings.
Lloyd, who was playing in her 25th game, has had a slew of near misses in her international career so far, with her only goal prior to this match coming in a route of Chinese Taipei. Against China, Lloyd’s world-class finish came at a crucial time, giving the USA the lead just seven minutes before halftime.
The scoring sequence started off a Wambach cross from right side that flew over the penalty area and rolled into the left corner. Lopez ran the ball down, nutmegged her defender towards goal, then toe-poked a pass back to Lloyd. The U.S. attacking midfielder side-stepped a defender to the inside and cracked a right footed shot from just left of the penalty arc, plowing the ball into the net at the upper left corner from 25 yards out.
Lloyd had four chances to score before bagging her goal. In just the third minute, her left-footed screamer from the top of the box just missed wide right. In the 25th minute, she had a chance at a knock down from Whitehill free kick, but her half-chance was cleared off the line for a corner kick.
Two minutes later, her strike from the top of the box took a huge hop in front of the goal and seemed to be heading into the net before Chinese goalkeeper Zhang dove fully to her right and shot her left hand up, somehow palming the ball away for a corner kick on one of the best saves one will ever see in women’s soccer. In the 32nd minute, Chalupny whipped in a cross from the right side that Lloyd could only get a piece of as she slid hard at the six-yard line.
The skillful Chinese managed to string together a few impressive attacks, but on the whole, the U.S. defense never let them get into dangerous positions. The one Chinese shot on goal that didn’t go in bounced harmlessly to U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo from 25 yards out.
Whitehill made two big defensive plays in the waning minutes as the Chinese made a last push for an equalizer. She cleared one dangerous free kick with her head and swept away an attempted counter attack with a timely tackle that helped stretch the USA’s unbeaten streak in regulation play to 36 matches.
In the Group A matches, Norway upset world number-one Germany, 2-1, while Denmark walloped France, 4-0. In Group C, host Portugal tied Ireland, 1-1, and Italy defeated Iceland, 2-1.
The USA will next face Finland, a 3-0 loser to Sweden in the other Group B match, at Ferreiras on March 9. Kickoff for that match is 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET. Fans can follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
Visit the Algarve Cup competitions page at ussoccer.com for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in Portugal.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. China
Competition: 2007 Algarve Cup
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Silves, Portugal
Date: March 7, 2007; Kickoff – 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, windy – 75 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
CHN 1 0 1
USA – Kristine Lilly (penalty kick) 19th minute.
CHN – Han Duan (Liu Sa) 21.
USA – Carli Lloyd (Stephanie Lopez) 38.
USA - 18-Hope Solo; 4-Cat Whitehill, 8-Tina Ellertson, 3-Christie Rampone; 14-Stephanie Lopez, 12-Leslie Osborne, 11-Carli Lloyd, 17-Lori Chalupny; 9-Heather O’Reilly (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 80), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 2-Heather Mitts, 6-Natasha Kai, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner, 16-Angela Hucles, 19-Marci Jobson, 22-India Trotter.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
CHN - 18-Zhang Yanru; 3-Li Jie (14-Wang Kun, 86), 4-Weng Xingzhi, 5-Pu Wei – Capt., 16-Liu Yali; 7-Bi Yan (12-Zhang Tong, 70), 8-Zhang Na, 19-Qu Feifei (6-Zhang Ying, 70), 23-Li Dongna; 9-Han Duan, 20-Liu Sa (21-Lou Xiaoxu, 80).
Subs not used: 1-Han Wenxia, 2-Song Guan Nan, 13-Sun Lin, 17-Li Dongling, 24-Guo Yue.
Head Coach: Wang Haiming
USA / CHN
Shots: 15 / 4
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 14 / 20
Offside: 2 / 1
CHN – Liu Yali (caution) 77.
USA – Abby Wambach (caution) 84.
Referee: Gyongyi Gaal (Hungary)
Asst. Referee: Emilia Parvainen (Finland)
Asst. Referee: Karine Vives Solana (France)
4th Official: Natalia Advonchenko (Russia)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd
Group B Standings - Full Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
SWE 1 0 0 3 3 0 +3
USA 1 0 0 3 2 1 +1
CHN 0 1 0 0 1 2 -1
FIN 0 1 0 0 0 3 -3
Group B Schedule / Results - Full Schedule / Results
USA 2, China 1
Sweden 3, Finland 0
USA vs. Finland
Sweden vs. China
USA vs. Sweden
Finland vs. China
U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM QUOTE SHEET
U.S. head coach Greg Ryan on the match:
“It’s always a difficult first game in this tournament. Last year, we tied China 0-0. I’m just happy that this game gives us a chance to start getting our form back and hopefully by the third or fourth game we’re on form.”
On the team’s fitness in this Women’s World Cup year:
“We’ve had a year of training together last year, which helped us raise our team fitness level and we’ve been together a lot this year already. I think this year you will see the U.S. with a higher fitness level as a team.”
“The Chinese defended better in the second half. The Chinese team showed more commitment to fight with the U.S. than they have in recent games. I was impressed that China kept battling to the final whistle. Sometimes, they get a goal down and they don’t have the same spirit.”
On goal scorer Carli Lloyd:
“It’s fantastic, because you look at Carli, and you think, ‘This is a player who has great ability to score of this team, striking balls from outside the box, she’s composed inside the box, she’s good at heading the ball.’ It’s great for her. Her other goal was against Chinese Taipei, but this was a big one in this tournament against China, and a great one. She cracked it from outside. I’m very, very happy for her. It can only give her more confidence. But besides the goal, she had a great game today. She was very confident on the ball, kept us in possession, sprayed the ball around well and at the end of the day, she gets the winning goal.”
On having five veterans back in the side:
“I think the main thing for us is integrating Abby, Lil, Aly, Christie and Shannon back in the team. You only get better as you play together, and this was a great opportunity to play with Abby and Lil in the lineup. The next game I think we’ll be able to get Shannon and Aly in. The more they play together, they start getting the chemistry back.”
U.S. captain Kristine Lilly on the match:
“It was great to be back in. I felt pretty good for the most part. With this game, if the ball is in the air, we don’t play well. I felt we had some great combinations when the ball was on the ground and we found the angles. But once it got in the air and was bouncing around, it took a lot more effort for us to get the game going, so that was difficult. But otherwise, I think the effort was great from the team. Having everyone back now, although we are still missing Kate (Markgraf), it was a great first game for us.”
On the young midfield:
“Our midfield was great. Chalups, Carli, Les and Steph were great. And to have a young group like that do so well in our midfield, I’m psyched to see. They’ve been working extremely hard in the past two years. Having Carli scoring that goal, it makes her feel good. They did a great job, Steph getting into the attack, Chalups getting into the attack, Les holding down the fort and Carli scoring a goal, was just tremendous.”
U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd on the match:
“The second half was kind of tough. We weren’t keeping it as much as we we’d like. In the first half, we had great possession and a lot of chances. We just have to recover our legs and keep our focus for the next one.”
On her goal:
“We’ve been working a lot on shooting, the midfielders shooting outside the box. I’ve been focusing, concentrating and working on it. It’s a reward after practicing it for so long. I took a touch to the inside and beat the girl and ripped it.”
On finally breaking through with a big goal:
“I’ve been plugging away, I’ve hit some posts in my career so far. It felt good to get one in an important game in an important tournament.”
U.S. defender Christie Rampone on the match:
“I think everything was organized (in the back). We were communicating really well. These last couple days of practice, having double days, we felt really secure back there. Cat (Whitehill) and Tina (Ellertson) did an awesome job. We had (China under control), we just had to stay focused and get the job done.”