GUANGZHOU, China (January 16, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team started the Pia Sundhage era in style, scoring four goals in a 28-minute span during the second half – two each from forward Amy Rodriguez and midfielder Lindsay Tarpley – to defeat regional rival Canada, 4-0, in the opening match of the 2008 Four Nations Tournament in Guangzhou, China.
Sundhage, hired in mid-November as the sixth head coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history, gave first career caps to defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger, as well as a first-ever start to Rodriguez in what was the USA’s first match of 2008. The 20-year-old striker, who came into the game with five career caps and two FIFA youth world championships on her resume, rewarded her coach’s confidence with her first two goals at the senior level. Rodriguez broke open a scoreless game with goals in the 51st and 65th minutes.
Canada started 10 players who were members of its 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team while the Sundhage sent out a lineup with eight players who represented the USA last September in China. The U.S. team showed some wonderful attacking rhythm during the match, but struggled a bit in the final third during the first 45 minutes. That changed in the second half with Heather O’Reilly at the heart of all four goals. Playing at right midfield in a midfield consisting of Leslie Osborne, Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd, O’Reilly was menacing all game, whether it was down the flank or drifting more into the middle.
On the first goal, a crisp series of passes found O’Reilly on the right wing and she spied Rodriguez sprinting into the penalty area. O’Reilly chipped the ball over the Canadian backs to Rodriguez, who held off a defender and as she tumbled to the ground, spun her shot into the net from 10 yards over sliding goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
Sauerbrunn had an eventful first cap, playing very well in the center of the defense next to new captain Christie Rampone, but her day ended in the 59th minute when she had to leave the game after breaking her nose on the back of a Canadian player’s head. Stephanie Cox had to rush to warm-up, coming on at right back in the 64th minute while pushing Krieger into the middle. One minute after the teams were even again, Rodriguez struck for her second of the match.
The goal came after Abby Wambach, who partnered with Rodriguez on the front line in the 4-4-2 formation for all 90 minutes, busted past a defender near the left side of the penalty area and was bundled to the ground. The Canadians paused for a moment, perhaps waiting for a whistle, but that gave O’Reilly a chance to sprint from the middle to the corner and take possession. She faced up a defender, and as she would do all day, flew by the Canadian back to the end line before cutting a bouncing cross back into the middle. Unmarked, Rodriguez took a big swing at the ball, but didn’t make precise contact as it spun off her foot. Still, she got enough pace on her first-time effort to direct the ball into the lower right corner from 12 yards out.
Tarpley had come into the game at the same time as Lopez, playing in the attacking midfield slot in place of Lloyd, and as she is apt to do, was in the right place at the right time to score the final two U.S. goals.
After yet another quality build up, Wambach brought the ball down about 15 yards from the net with her back to the goal and rolled a pass square to O’Reilly inside the penalty box. O’Reilly got a good head of steam before smacking a left-footed spinner on net that was well-saved, but not held, by the flying McLeod. Tarpley was first to the rebound, tapping the ball into the open net from eight yards out in the 71st minute.
Tarpley added her second goal of the game, and 19th of her career, seven minutes later. Once again O’Reilly was the catalyst, blazing down the right flank, leaving another Canadian defender in her wake, before sending a perfect chipped cross into the middle that found Rodriguez. This time the sparkplug forward caught it flush on the volley, sending towards frame. Tarpley, who was stationed right in the middle of the goal about eight yards out, deftly re-directed the ball into the lower right corner past the wrong-footed McLeod, who only could watch as the ball slowly rolled over the goal line.
It’s was the first-ever three-assist match for O’Reilly and third time that Tarpley has scored twice in a game, the first coming in the first game of the of the 2004 Four Nations Tournament when she bagged a brace against Sweden, her first-ever national team goals.
After a somewhat quiet first half in which Rodriguez had shots from tough angles on the right side of the penalty area in both the first and 43rd minutes, she could have had a hat trick or more after the break.
In the 60th minute, Wambach out-maneuvered a defender to free herself just outside the penalty box on the left side and cut a perfect pass into the path of Rodriguez. She struck her shot well and on frame, but somehow Canadian defender Melanie Booth got back to the goal line to spectacularly head the ball up and over the crossbar. In the 82nd minute, a Rodriguez drive from 16 yards was headed into the upper right corner before McLeod tipped it off the top off crossbar for a corner kick. McLeod also snuffed a mini-breakaway from Rodriguez with two minutes left in the game.
Canada put two shots on goal during the match, but just one was dangerous, that coming off a corner kick in the second half. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had to make a reaction save to knock down the point-blank header, then smothered the ball before a Canadian attacker could react. Solo also did well handling three Canadian corner kicks in the final 15 minutes, punching two away in traffic and securing a third.
Canadian star forward Christine Sinclair did hit a screamer over the crossbar from a tough angle in the eighth minute, and had one dangerous cross that flew through the goal area, but for the majority of the game was well contained by collapsing U.S. defenders.
In the other match of the day, host China defeated Finland, 2-0, on first half header goals from captain Li Jie and Liu Yali.
The second match day of the tournament on Friday, January 18, will feature China against Canada followed by the USA taking on Finland (4:30 p.m. local / 3:30 a.m. ET).
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Canada
Competition: 2008 Four Nations Tournament
Venue: Guangdong Olympic Sports Center Stadium; Guangzhou, China.
Date: January 16, 2008; Kickoff – 1:00 p.m. local / 12 a.m. ET
Weather: Overcast, Chilly - 48 degrees
1 2 F
USA 0 4 4
CAN 0 0 0
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Heather O’Reilly) 51st minute.
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Heather O’Reilly) 65.
USA – Lindsay Tarpley (Heather O’Reilly) 71.
USA – Lindsay Tarpley (Amy Rodriguez) 78.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 17-Lori Chalupny, 27-Becky Sauerbrunn (14-Stephanie Cox, 64), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 26-Ali Krieger; 7-Shannon Boxx, 12-Leslie Osborne (16-Angela Hucles, 46), 11-Carli Lloyd (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 64), 9-Heather O’Reilly; 19-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 4-Cat Whitehill, 6-Tobin Heath, 8-Lauren Cheney, 10-Angie Woznuk, 25-Tina DiMartino.
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
CAN: 18-Erin McLeod; 3-Melanie Booth, 9-Candace Chapman (13-Kaylyn Kyle, 78), 11-Randee Hermus, 15-Clare Rustad; 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 10-Martina Franko, 19-Sophie Schmidt; 12-Christine Sinclair, 14-Melissa Tancredi (16-Julie Armstrong, 67), 21-Jodi-Ann Robinson (5-Jonelle Filigno, 46).
Subs not used: 1-Karina LeBlanc, 2-Amy Vermeulen, 4-Taryne Boudreau, 8-Monica Lam-Feist, 17-Brittany Timko, 20-Stephanie Labbé.
Head Coach: Even Pellerud
USA / CAN
Shots: 18 / 8
Shots on Goal: 11 / 2
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 8 / 5
Offside: 5 / 2
Misconduct Summary: None.
Referee: Kirsi Savolainen (Finland)
AR 1: Liu Hongjuan (China)
AR 2: Zhang Lingling (China)
4th Official: Gu Ying (China)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Heather O’Reilly
2008 Four Nations Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
USA 1 0 0 3 4 0 +4
CHN 1 0 0 3 2 0 +2
FIN 0 1 0 0 0 2 -2
CAN 0 1 0 0 0 4 -4
USA 4, Canada 0
China 2, Finland 0
China vs. Canada
USA vs. Finland
Finland vs. Canada
USA vs. China