ALBUFEIRA, Portugal (March 5, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got goals from four different players in a suffocating 4-0 victory against China to open the 2008 Algarve Cup.
The match marked the third time the USA has scored four times against China in 39 meetings between the two countries, but it was the first time it had beaten the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympics hosts by four goals.
It didn’t take long for the USA to get rolling. Just five minutes into the match Carli Lloyd ran onto a touch from Abby Wambach and took a few forward dribbles before looping a perfect pass with the outside of her right foot to Lindsay Tarpley inside the penalty area. The U.S. midfielder brought the ball down perfectly with her right foot then snapped a left-footed shot into the lower right corner from 10 yards out. It was Tarpley’s team-leading fifth goal of 2008, surpassing her total of four last year. Her high for a year is eight, scored in 2004, and she now has 22 total goals in her WNT career.
While the USA did not create a bushel of great chances in the first half, it dominated possession and had China chasing the ball, a scenario often reversed in past USA-China matches. Heather O’Reilly did have one good chance to score before the break when she side-stepped a defender in the left side of the penalty box. O’Reilly tried to chip Chinese ‘keeper Zhang Yanru, but the six-footer threw up a big paw and palmed the ball away for a corner kick.
After fighting to attack against a blustery wind in the first half, the USA got the wind at their backs in the second half, scoring three times to put the game away. The USA outshot-China 14-2 after the break, as the Americans doubled their shot output from the first half. The Chinese, already tired by the U.S. possession, seemed to fade even more with the wind in their faces. China’s 4-5-1 formation, with Han Duan as the lone forward, often put the star striker alone against U.S. center-backs Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf, and that was a battle she wasn’t going to win.
Tarpley came out at halftime and was replaced by the youngest player on the USA’s roster, 19-year-old Tobin Heath. Like Tarpley, Heath scored on her team’s first shot of the half, this one coming less than two minutes after the restart.
Heath, playing in just her third cap, spied an errant back pass skidding past one of the Chinese center defenders and she pounced. With her first touch, she eluded a defensive lunge, then dribbled towards the left post before deftly lifting the ball over the sliding Zhang, for her first-ever full Women’s National Team goal.
In the first half, the USA played with a three-woman center midfield of Shannon Boxx, Lloyd and Tarpley with O’Reilly coming down the right flank and Wambach and Amy Rodriguez up top. After Heath replaced Tarpley, the USA switched to a more conventional 4-4-2.
The third goal came from a corner kick that was earned through good combination play by Heath and Buehler. Lloyd took the subsequent corner kick and it just missed substitute Natasha Kai’s head as she knifed through the box. The ball flew to the left corner where Boxx ran it down, did her best O’Reilly impression to beat a defender to the end line, then cut a short pass into the path of Wambach.
The U.S. forward met the ball first-time and spun her left-footer into net from seven yards out for her first goal of 2008 and the 87th of her career. The goal marked the third time in the last four years that Wambach has opened her annual account at the Algarve Cup.
Five minutes later, it was 4-0, and this goal was all Lloyd. She took a short pass from Kai about 30 yards from the net, blew past one defender, stuttered-step into the box to lose another Chinese marker and then crushed her 13-yard shot across the goal and into the left corner, giving Zhang no chance. It was Lloyd’s 11th career goal and first of 2008.
The USA’s 13 goals in the first four matches of 2008 are the most to start a year for the U.S. women since 2000.
Heath could have easily had a brace or a hat trick as she missed two golden chances in the last five minutes. In the 85th minute, she struck a shot hard off the crossbar from 16 yards out. The ball bounced high in the air and Kai came running through to get her head on the ball, but Zhang dove low to her right to smother. In the 90th minute, Heath stripped a defender in the back and was in all alone, but cut her driven shot just outside the right post.
The match marked the first appearance for Markgraf since she badly injured her ankle in the semifinal of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She played the first half before giving way to Stephanie Cox, usually an outside back, who went the final 45 minutes in the center next to Rampone, the U.S. captain.
The game also marked the first-ever full Women’s National Team cap for Buehler, who went the full 90 minutes at right back. Buehler played for the USA at both the 2002 and 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championships in Canada and Thailand, respectively.
Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart earned the shutout in her fifth career cap and just second game in three years. Barnhart did not have to make a difficult save and easily handled the few long balls and several crosses that came her way.
In the other Group B match, Norway defeated Italy, 4-1. In the Group A matches, defending Women’s World Cup champion Germany was upset by Denmark, 1-0, on a goal from Merete Pederson, while Sweden downed Finland, 3-1. In Group C, Iceland defeated Algarve Cup debutante Poland, 2-0, and host Portugal also got a 2-0 win, over Ireland.
The USA will next face Italy in Alvor on March 7. Kickoff for that match is 1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET. Fans can follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. China
Competition: 2008 Algarve Cup
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Albufeira, Portugal
Date: March 5, 2008; Kickoff – 1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, very windy – 63 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 3 4
CHN 0 0 0
USA – Lindsay Tarpley (Carli Lloyd) 5th minute
USA – Tobin Heath (unassisted) 47.
USA – Abby Wambach (Shannon Boxx) 64.
USA – Carli Lloyd (Natasha Kai) 69.
USA: 24-Nicole Barnhart; 26-Rachel Buehler, 15-Kate Markgraf (14-Stephanie Cox, 46), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 17-Lori Chalupny; 7-Shannon Boxx (16-Angela Hucles, 70), 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (13-Tobin Heath, 46), 9-Heather O’Reilly (10-Angie Woznuk, 78); 19-Amy Rodriguez (6-Natasha Kai, 60), 20-Abby Wambach (8-Lauren Cheney, 78)
Subs not used: 18-Hope Solo, 4-Cat Whitehill, 12-Leslie Osborne
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
CHN: 1-Zhang Yanru, 3-Le Jie - Capt., 4-Kun Wang, 6-Zhang Ying (5-Jiang Shuai, 72); 7-Bi Yan, 8-Zhang Na (17-Zhang Cheng, 80), 11-Xie Caixia (14-Guo Yue, 70), 16-Liu Yali, 20-Zhang Tong; 22-Xu Yuan (10-Yue Min, 80), 9-Han Duan
Subs not used: 2-Yuan Fan, 12-Qu Feifei, 15-Zhou Gaoping, 18-Weng Xiaojie, 21-Song Xiaoli
Head Coach: Elisabeth Loisel
Statistical Summary: USA / CHN
Shots: 21/ 5
Shots on Goal: 11 / 3
Saves: 3 / 6
Corner Kicks: 9 / 2
Fouls: 5 / 5
Offside: 3 / 1
Misconduct Summary: None.
Referee: Jacqui Melksham (Australia)
Asst. Referee: Allyson Flynn (Australia)
Asst. Referee: Jacqueline Leleu (Australia)
4th Official: Pannipar Kamnueng (Thailand)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd
2008 Algarve Cup Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
SWE 1 0 0 3 3 1 +2
DEN 1 0 0 3 1 0 +1
GER 0 1 0 0 0 1 -1
FIN 0 1 0 0 1 3 -2
Denmark 1, Germany 0
Sweden 3, Finland 1
Denmark vs. Sweden
Germany vs. Finland
Finland vs. Denmark
Germany vs. Sweden
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
USA 1 0 0 3 4 0 +4
NOR 1 0 0 3 4 2 +2
ITA 0 1 0 0 2 4 -2
CHN 0 1 0 0 0 4 -4
USA 4, China 0
Norway 4, Italy 2
USA vs. Italy
Norway vs. China
USA vs. Norway
China vs. Italy
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
POR 1 0 0 3 2 0 +2
ISL 1 0 0 3 2 0 +2
IRE 0 1 0 0 0 2 -2
POL 0 1 0 0 0 2 -2
Iceland 2, Poland 0
Portugal 2, Ireland 0
Poland vs. Portugal
Ireland vs. Iceland
Portugal vs. Iceland
Poland vs. Ireland
March 12 Venue Kickoff (local)
11th Place Match Guia 10 a.m.
9th Place Match Montechoro 10 a.m.
7th Place Match Loule 10:30 a.m.
5th Place Match Olhao 10:30 a.m.
3rd Place Match VR de SA 10:00 a.m.
Championship VR de SA 1:15 p.m.