SEOUL, South Korea (Nov. 4, 2006) – Team captain Kristine Lilly scored in the 68th minute as the U.S. Women’s National Team gutted out a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Canada to win the championship of the 2006 Peace Queen Cup.
Next up for the American women is the 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup that will serve as qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be held in China next September. The USA will play its Women’s Gold Cup semifinal on Nov. 22 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., taking on the winner of the Mexico-Trinidad & Tobago quarterfinal match that will be held on Nov. 19 in Miami.
In a game played at the beautiful Seoul World Cup Stadium in front of almost 16,000 fans, the USA matched Canada’s combative play and got a wonder strike from Lilly midway through the second half that stood up for the victory.
After struggling to create quality chances all game against Canada’s compact and organized defense, the USA finally broke through when substitute midfielder Aly Wagner played a perfect pass into the path of Lilly, who was running into the right side of the penalty area. Lilly cut back hard inside with her right foot, losing Canadian defender Randee Hermus, and then slid to drill her left-footed shot from 14 yards into the left side of the net past diving Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
It was the third goal of the Peace Queen Cup for Lilly and the 116th of her career. Lilly won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while U.S. forward Natasha Kai was awarded the Bronze Ball as the third MVP. Lilly also won the Silver Boot as the tournament’s second leading scorer behind Canadian Christine Sinclair, who scored six goals in competition, but could not find the net against the USA.
Neither team consistently produced dangerous chances as the ball was in the air for much of the game. Both countries battled hard for first and second balls, but the USA did have an advantage in possession and out-shot Canada, 10-8.
The USA played without leading scorer Abby Wambach, who sprained her ankle in the previous match against the Netherlands. It was the first match Wambach has ever missed due to injury, spanning her high school, college, WUSA and national team career. Wambach should be healed and ready for qualifying. With Wambach out, U.S. head coach Greg Ryan started a front line of Lilly, Kai and Lindsay Tarpley, while Angela Hucles got the nod at attacking midfielder in the 4-3-3 formation.
Sinclair played a solid game for Canada, but her playmaking was more dangerous than her dribbling or shooting as she got teammates into dangerous spots on several occasions with her passing. In the 6th minute, she popped behind the U.S. defense on the right and served a hard cross on the ground, but Kate Markgraf cut it off and cleared.
Canada dropped back into a 4-5-1 when on defense and made it very difficult for the USA to play the ball through the midfield, but the Americans still managed to create a handful of chances in the first half.
In the 27th minute, Lilly got behind the Canadian backs on the left side after slipping through the offside trap, but as she cut toward the net, there were no U.S. players in the penalty box to receive her pass.
One minute later, midfielder Carli Lloyd got her foot on a free kick that bounced around in the penalty box, but McLeod made a great reaction save with her leg from close range. Three minutes before the end of the half, Leslie Osborne slipped a short pass to the cutting Tarpley in the left side of the penalty area. She had a sliver of space to shoot, but her shot was blocked by a sliding defender.
Osborne, who played another phenomenal match for the USA in the defensive midfield slot, was one of the best U.S. performers in the tournament.
The USA did much better pulling apart the Canadian defense in the second half, and the first chance after the break came in the 51st minute when defender Lori Chalupny collected a clearance off a corner kick at the top of the penalty box, took a touch to her right and fired a shot that drew a diving save from McLeod.
Two minutes later, Kai got behind the Canadian defense straight up the middle with a good first touch off a long ball, but she didn’t get enough power on her shot and it rolled to McLeod from the top of the penalty area.
The USA had a scare in the 64th minute as Sinclair briefly burst free down the right flank. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo came rushing out, then tried to hold her ground and ended up losing her footing. Fortunately for the USA, Sinclair’s shot was weak and Solo was able to recover and grab it.
One minute before Lilly got the winner, she set up Kai for what was almost a spectacular goal as her cross from the right side was sent on net by the Hawaiian with a nifty back-heel flick from inside the six-yard box. McLeod made a great save, snagging the shot with a quick dive to her right.
Canada made several substitutions to try to get an equalizer, pushing hard in the final 10 minutes. In the 84th minute, the USA had to scramble to clear away a Canada flurry in front of the net and then, one minute later, Solo had to come out and bravely grab a long Canada service, paying for it with a knock on the leg by the crashing Melanie Booth, who played a fine game for Canada on the left flank.
The USA held off Canada’s final surge by clearing everything, anywhere, during the three minutes of second half stoppage time. The win marked the USA’s fifth consecutive shutout against Canada, including a 2-0 win earlier this year in Cary, N.C. The Peace Queen Cup title was the USA’s second tournament championship of the year after also winning the Four Nations Tournament in China last January.
Lilly’s game-winning goal was her 12th of 2006, tying her second-best ever scoring year for the USA over her 19-year international career. She scored 12 in 1995 and 20 in 1999.
The USA will return to training in mid-November at The Home Depot Center to prepare for the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup with matches on Nov. 22 and 26, which will be the final two games of the year for the team. The USA is 16-0-4 in 2006 heading into Women’s World Cup qualifying.
The referee for the championship match was Jenny Palmqvist of Sweden, widely hailed as one of the world’s best, who was also the referee for the 2004 Olympic gold medal game.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Canada
Competition: 2006 Peace Queen Cup – Championship Game
Venue: Seoul World Cup Stadium; Seoul, South Korea
Date: November 4, 2006; Kickoff – 1:30 p.m. local / 11:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Overcast, cool – 67 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
CAN 0 0 0
USA – Kristine Lilly (Aly Wagner) 68th minute.
USA – 18-Hope Solo; 3-Christie Rampone, 15-Kate Markgraf (2-Heather Mitts, 64), 4-Cat Whitehill, 17-Lori Chalupny; 12-Leslie Osborne, 11-Carli Lloyd (21-Marci Miller, 88), 16-Angela Hucles (10-Aly Wagner, 64); 6-Natasha Kai (8-Tina Frimpong, 83), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (19-Kacey White, 71), 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 23-Joanna Lohman.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
CAN – 22-Erin McLeod; 10-Martina Franko, 9-Candace Chapman (15-Jodi-Ann Robinson, 84), 11-Randee Hermus, 7-Isabelle Morneau; 3-Melanie Booth, 13-Amy Walsh (6-Sophie Schmidt, 77), 8-Diana Matheson, 5-Andrea Neil (4-Sasha Andrews, 77); 16-Rhian Wilkinson, 12-Christine Sinclair – Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Leisha Alcia, 2-Kristina Kiss, 19-Amy Vermeulen.
Head Coach: Even Pellerud
Statistical Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 10 / 8
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 5 / 5
Corner Kicks: 10 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 9
Offside: 5 / 0
Misconduct Summary: None.
Referee: Jenny Palmqvist (SWE)
Asst. Referee: Kim Eun Jin (KOR)
Asst. Referee: Lee Seul Gi (KOR)
4th Official: Cha Sung Mi (KOR)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Kristine Lilly
Peace Cup Awards
Fair Play Award: South Korea
Golden Ball: Kristine Lilly, USA
Silver Ball: Christine Sinclair, Canada
Bronze Ball: Natasha Kai, USA
Golden Shoe: Christine Sinclair, Canada
Silver Shoe: Kristine Lilly, USA
Bronze Shoe: Patrizia Panico, Italy
U.S. WNT Quote Sheet
U.S. head coach Greg Ryan on the match:
“We were really happy with the performance. Canada is just a very difficult team to play against. They knock a ton of long balls, you have to win them in the air, and they are great at knocking them in behind you afterwards. So I think, defensively, we were very sound today and got better as the game went along. In the attack, they are right up your backs the entire game and it’s just going to be a physical struggle, but I think we play with more composure over the course of time and started breaking them down more often.”
Ryan on Kristine Lilly’s game-winning goal:
“It’s not surprising that it was Lil who ended up beating the player and scoring another great goal. Fantastic tournament for Lil winning the golden ball, but it was fantastic for the whole team.”
Ryan on playing against Canada’s long ball tactics:
“We don’t worry about it. We talk about it ahead of time. You know it’s not going to be a pretty game so don’t get upset about it. This is life in real football. There are going to be some teams that are up your back the whole game, fighting for head balls and lumping long balls, and you have to deal with that and play your game. I was very happy with the way we handled it. In the past, maybe players would be upset that we didn’t play so pretty, but I think this team understands that we are all about winning games and winning championships and sometimes it’s not going to be pretty.”
Ryan on Canada and playing in a tournament final:
“Canada is becoming better and better every year. Now they have, I think, 18-20 players that are all very good, so it’s a very tough battle for us when we play Canada. This tournament was very important for us because we have so many young players in our team right now, especially without Abby Wambach today.”
On the value of the Peace Queen Cup heading into Women’s World Cup qualifying:
“The placement of this tournament right before the qualifiers helps us just to be very, very sharp, organized and prepared. I don’t think we could be any more prepared going into qualifiers…For us, (if the Peace Cup) continues, it’s something we want to continue to do, because outside of world championships, I don’t know that we play in a tournament with venues of this quality. Two World Cup venues from the men’s (World Cup) tournament, all the fields were great and the Koreans were fantastic hosts.”
Ryan on the greater meaning of the Peace Cup:
“It’s interesting, because when two teams step on the field, it’s not very peaceful. It’s fighting, it’s a battle. But after the game is over, we’re friends. I think that because we play against countries from all over the world and we’re together traveling around the world playing, that we demonstrate that we can all come together and get along through sports, and that’s true in all sports. That’s a very important part of the peace process, to see all people from all over the world together.”
U.S. captain Kristine Lilly on her game-winning goal and winning the tournament title:
“For us in this game, it means a lot. It means a lot that our team kept pushing to get a goal. We were playing Canada who is very combative and sends a lot of long balls. They send a lot of numbers forward…Aly coming in the second half, I think, did an amazing job for us because they were getting tired and she had time to find us on through balls, and she found me. My cut back was what I knew I was going to do because my right foot hasn’t been on, and I caught her on a good angle and I hit it well.”
On the tournament:
“These games were good. We saw Denmark, who we saw in Portugal (at the 2006 Algarve Cup), we saw the Netherlands, who we haven’t seen in a while, and Australia, who we haven’t played in a while. So we played a lot of teams that are strong, a lot of teams who are World Cup teams, and a lot of our players on our team got a lot of playing time. They got to experience some of the top teams in the world…Kacey White got her first cap and we finished some goals off. Overall, it was a team effort from our staff to our players. It was a great tournament for us.”
On the organization of the Peace Queen Cup:
“Everything was excellent, from the stadiums we played at to the hospitality from the Koreans, and just the games. We had some of the top teams in the world play here and I think that’s great for the fans to see, and seeing the Korean team play as well.”
On winning the Golden Ball:
“When you receive an MVP honor it’s always nice, but you always look back to your team because they helped you achieve that.”
U.S. defender Heather Mitts on the match:
“We knew they were going to hit it long and hit it often. For us, it’s just being able to drop and win the headers, battle, and at the same time, play our game and not get caught up in what they do. When we have time, we are able to play composed and look for the midfielders and forwards, and I think we did that today. It was a tough game, and we got the result, and we’ll look to the qualifiers now.”
On what playing and winning a final does for the younger U.S. players:
“A game like that is great experience. It’s not a qualifier quite yet, but at the same time we are playing them now, and we could end up playing them again, so I think it is good for them to be able to get in there and get some experience and hopefully use that if we play them again.”
On the tournament:
“We want to win every time we step on the field to play for our country so to come away victorious is a great accomplishment for us. The tournament has been amazing. We’ve had a great time here. The people have been so kind to us and the facilities were amazing. We look forward to coming back again.”