CARY, N.C (April 27, 2008) – In a match that was delayed 53 minutes due to rain and lightning, the U.S. Women’s National Team earned its first domestic win of 2008 with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Australia on a stoppage time goal from midfielder Carli Lloyd.
The stadium was pounded by rain starting 40 minutes before the original kickoff of 7 p.m. and along with several bursts of lightning, caused almost an hour delay.
When the teams finally took the field, the fans were treated to a wonderfully exciting match that saw three goals in the final six minutes.
A goal from Natasha Kai in the 35th minute and another from Abby Wambach in the 49th had staked the USA to a 2-0 lead, which seemingly was to be the final score. Australia had other plans, though, scoring twice in three minutes in the 86th and 88th minutes to tie the game.
That set the stage for heroics from Lloyd after substitute Angela Hucles was fouled by Selin Kuralay on the left wing about 20 yards from the sideline. Halftime substitute Cat Whitehill sent an excellent service to the far post that drew Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams off her line. In a tight pack of players, she tried to punch clear but hit the ball high in the air. It fell to Lloyd inside the six-yard box and she jumped over an Australia player to nod the ball into the open net with her head, setting off a wild celebration by the U.S. players and fans.
“You are 2-0 up, and then 2-1 and 2-2 and you can see in the body language that we still wanted to win,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “When we got the free kick, you could feel it. That feeling is contagious. The goal is just huge, even though it’s just a friendly game, but still that goal is huge. Not only for Carli, but for the whole team including myself, because it gives you the feeling you can win no matter what.”
The win was the first for Sundhage inside the United States and moved the USA’s record in 2008 to 11-0-1. The two teams will meet again next Saturday, May 3, in Birmingham, Ala., at the famed Legion Field (tickets). Kickoff is 4 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.
The heavy rains actually ceased six minutes into the game, but the field was still saturated, making for extremely slick conditions in some parts of the field and plodding puddles in others. Even though the heavy rains started about 55 minutes into the game, the field held up extremely well throughout the match.
The USA’s first goal came as Lloyd cleverly slipped through two defenders in the midfield and dribbled with pace toward goal. She then played a perfect diagonal pass into the penalty area to the cutting Wambach, but the U.S. forward unselfishly let the ball run through her legs and into the path of the streaking Kai. With her first touch, Kai almost let the ball skid too far in front of her, but recovered with speed to slide and knock her shot off the inside of right post and in from seven yards out. It was Kai’s 15th career goal and seventh of 2008.
Young forward Amy Rodriguez replaced Kai at halftime and immediately made an impact, creating the second goal almost on her own. She took a pass just over midfield and raced by Aussie defender Clare Polkinghorne into the box before sending a delicate short chip to top the six-yard box. Almost falling backwards, Wambach got a head on the cross and looped it into the side-netting of the left corner. The goal, her seventh of 2008, was the 93rd of Wambach’s career as she races toward the magical 100-goal mark.
The USA fired 22 shots (seven by Lloyd and five from Wambach) to Australia’s 13, but were almost made to pay for not being able to manufacture a third goal despite numerous chances over 90 minutes.
Australia pulled a goal back with four minutes left as Heather Garriock, playing her 100th match for the Matildas, sent a cross in from the right wing to the far post that was expertly headed by Kate Gill across the goal mouth and into the far post from an extremely tight angle.
One minute later, the crowd was stunned as Lori Chalupny was whistled for handling the ball in the penalty area as she slid to tackle the ball away. She won the tackle, but the ball rolled up and hit her on the arm with her whole body on the ground. The assistant referee waved her flag and referee Margaret Domka point to the spot.
Australia captain Cheryl Salisbury took the kick and drove it to the left corner where Solo made a spectacular save, but the ball bounced right back to the Aussie captain who headed it into the open net to tie the game.
Showing great fighting spirit, the Americans tallied 45 seconds in the first minute of stoppage time. Before Domka whistled the end of the game 75 seconds later, Rodriguez almost made it a two-goal victory when she missed wide right of the post on a golden chance from 15 yards.
“I have to say it’s a good start (to the run of three domestic games),” said Sundhage. “This game had so many things. Some parts were very good in the first half and the people coming off the bench did very well. I said to the players, the way we won the game, it’s a winning feeling and that is so important to have when we go into the Olympics. This is perfect training for us.”
Solo was excellent in the horrible conditions over 90 minutes, making at least three powerful punches in first half, coming out to the top of the box twice to corral dangerous through balls and tipped a dangerous 19-yard half-volley from Sarah Walsh over the cross bar in the 20th minute. She also held several skipping shots well, and made the initial stop on the PK.
Despite not being able to punch clear at the end of the match, Williams also had a solid game on the wet field for Australia, holding numerous hard crosses and shots on which rebounds would have been finished by crashing U.S. forwards. She made 10 saves in the match.
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made all six of her allowed substitutions during the match and also gave a start to defender Heather Mitts, who returned to the U.S. lineup with an excellent performance after missing the last year while recovering from an ACL injury. Mitts played 53 minutes before being replaced by Rachel Buehler.
The U.S. team will now head to Birmingham where they will train all week in preparation for the second leg against Australia. Tickets starting at $18 and can be purchased through ussoccer.com, by calling 205-715-6000, and at all Birmingham-area Ticketmaster ticket centers (including Publix and FYE stores).
From Birmingham, the USA will travel to Washington, D.C., to face Canada on May 10 at 7 p.m. ET at RFK Stadium in a re-match of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying championship game held earlier this month in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $70, plus special VIP on-field seats for $150, are available online at ussoccer.com, through all Washington-Baltimore Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s stores), and by phone (Washington 202-397-SEAT (7328); Baltimore 410-547-SEAT (7328); Northern Virginia 703-573-SEAT (7328); out of state 1 800 551 SEAT (7328)). Groups of 20 or more can obtain a discount order form at ussoccer.com or call 312-528-1290.
- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT -
Match-up: USA vs. Australia
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.
Date: April 27, 2008; Kickoff – 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Heavy rain, thunderstorms – 67 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
AUS 0 2 2
USA – Natasha Kai (Carli Lloyd) 35th minute.
USA – Abby Wambach (Amy Rodriguez) 49.
AUS – Kate Gill (Heather Garriock) 86.
AUS – Cheryl Salisbury (unassisted) 88.
USA – Carli Lloyd (unassited) 91+
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (26-Rachel Buehler, 53), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 15-Kate Markgraf (4-Cat Whitehill, 46), 17-Lori Chalupny; 9-Heather O’Reilly (16-Angela Hucles, 67), 7-Shannon Boxx (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 68), 11-Carli Lloyd, 13-Tobin Heath (21-Kacey White, 46); 6-Natasha Kai (19-Amy Rodriguez, 46), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
AUS: 18-Lydia Williams; 3-Karla Reuter (19-Kim Carroll, 76), 5-Cheryl Salisbury – Capt., 11-Clare Polkinghorne, 16-Lauren Colthorpe; 7-Heather Garriock (2-Kate McShea, 89), 13-Amy Chapman (12-Kate Gill, 58), 14-Collette McCallum, 15-Sally Shipard (6-Amber Neilson, 65); 9-Sarah Walsh (22-Selin Kuralay, 82), 17-Kyah Simon (20-Joanne Burgess, 59).
Subs not used: 1-Melissa Barbieri
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
USA / AUS
Shots: 22 / 13
Shots on Goal: 13 / 8
Saves: 5 / 10
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 6 / 8
Offside: 1 / 2
AUS – Cheryl Salisbury (caution) 37th minute.
Referee: Margaret Domka (USA)
Asst. Referee: Sharon Wheeler (USA)
Asst. Referee: Kathleen Casto (USA)
4th Official: Chris Spivey (USA)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd