• USA Preserves 48-Game Unbeaten Streak on Home Soil
• Midfielder Lindsay Tarpley Earns First Cap Since Tearing ACL at End of 2009 WPS Season
• Next Up for USA is CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Beginning on Oct. 28 vs. Haiti
CHESTER, Pa. (Oct. 6, 2010) – The U.S. Women’s National Team came from behind to tie China 1-1 on a chilly night at PPL Park as 21-year-old forward Alex Morgan scored her first international goal.
The USA was behind for a large part of the match after Ma Jun finished a tremendous 12-yard full volley off a left wing cross from Zhou Gaoping to put the Chinese ahead in the 37th minute.
The Americans picked up the intensity during the last 30 minutes and were justly rewarded with an equalizer courtesy of the fresh legs of Morgan, who came into the match in the 71st minute to earn just her third cap.
Yael Averbuch, who also came off the bench in the 71st minute and looked very sharp in the midfield, started the sequence by winning a ball that popped over to Heather Mitts on the right wing. The USA’s right back drove a long ball over the Chinese back line to the sprinting Abby Wambach, who nodded a header into the path of Morgan.
The athletic striker ran onto the bouncing ball a few yards to the right of the penalty spot and curled a perfect 10-yard shot into the left corner with her favored left foot to tie the game. Morgan, a senior at California, is the only player on the U.S. roster still in college and was a star on the U.S. team that won the 2008 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She scored the winning goal in the U-20 World Cup Final, but this was her first for the senior side.
“I think we got some good answers today and I’m very happy,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “If you look at the first half, I thought we couldn’t connect and China made us look not so good. We struggled a little bit, but even a goal down, the attitude was to come back. Having players come of the bench and change the game like Yael Averbuch and Alex Morgan was a good thing and that was a big goal to tie the game late.”
The Americans struggled mightily for most of the match and especially in the first half as the team could not find a consistent attacking rhythm. The attack was disjointed and featured quite a few giveaways in the midfield. The Americans managed to test Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yue just once in the first half, that coming in the 21st minute after one of the USA’s best attacking sequences.
The ball popped out to Heather O’Reilly on the right wing and she put a cross to the top of the six-yard box where Wambach snapped a header down to the feet of Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yue, but she made a nice reaction save to push the ball away before it was cleared for a corner kick.
Wang Yihang had an even better opportunity as a U.S. turnover just about 20 yards from the top of the penalty box led to the speedy forward getting behind the U.S. defense. She had a one-on-one chance with U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, but she skied her shot over the goal.
In the 23rd minute, left back Rachel Buehler sent a perfect cross to a wide-open Shannon Boxx who had a free header from six yards out, but she couldn’t turn it on goal.
Sundhage made two changes at halftime, replacing both flank midfielders as Kristine Lilly came on for Megan Rapinoe and Tarpley replaced O’Reilly. It was the 120th cap for Tarpley, but first with the national team since she tore an ACL at the end of the 2009 WPS season.
The two subs energized the team a bit, but China started to drop back into their half to defend the single goal and played very organized defense while putting good pressure on the USA in the midfield. Still, the USA’s insistence on getting forward caused China to foul eight times in the second half.
In the 51st minute a long free kick from Amy LePeilbet was headed up in air by Wambach and fell to Rodriguez right in front of the goal, but her volley was soft and right at Zhang Yanru, came on in a goalkeeper change at halftime.
After Sun Ling hit the side-netting side netting after another U.S. giveaway in the 52nd minute, the rest of the game belonged to the Americans.
In the 57th minute, Wambach had another chance to head home, this time off a cross from Carli Lloyd from the right side, but knocked the ball wide right of the net.
In the 66th minute, Lloyd fired a free kick from 25 yards outside the left side of the penalty area, but it was deflected over the top for a corner kick. She struck a free kick from almost the exact same spot in the 74th, but although she hit it well, it went wide left of the goal.
Morgan foreshadowed her goal in the 77th minute when she was the recipient of the final pass after a nice full-field attack. She slipped by a defender with nutmeg into the right side of the penalty area, but Zhang pushed away her hard shot.
The USA went to a 3-4-3 formation for the final three minute plus four of stoppage time after Lauren Cheney replaced Buehler in the 87th minute, but the USA couldn’t manufacture a dramatic game-winner.
Ma’s goal marked the first time USA has been behind in a match since the 2009 Algarve Cup Final on March 11 of that year, when U.S. women went behind 1-0 to Sweden in a match that was eventually tied before the USA fell in penalty kicks.
The match against China was the final exhibition for the USA before entering the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament to be held from Oct. 28-Nov. 8 in Cancun, Mexico. The United States will open on Oct. 28 against Haiti, face Guatemala on Oct. 30 and finish Group B play against Costa Rica on Nov. 1.
The top two teams in each group advance to the all-important semifinals as the two finalists will automatically qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. The third-place team will compete in a playoff against the fifth-place finisher from Europe for the final berth to the Germany.
The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen.
U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. China
Date: Oct. 6, 2010
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: PPL Park; Chester, Pa.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, cool – 57 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
CHN 1 0 1
USA – Ma Jun (Zhou Gaoping) 37th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Abby Wambach) 83
USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Heather Mitts, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 26-Rachel Buehler (12-Lauren Cheney, 87); 9-Heather O’Reilly (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx (4-Yael Averbuch, 71), 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (13-Kristine Lilly, 46); 8-Amy Rodriguez (21-Alex Morgan, 71), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 23-Becky Sauerbrunn, 24-Jill Loyden
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
CHN: 28-Zhang Yue (1-Zhang Yanru, 46); 2-Liu Huana (capt.), 5-Weng Xinzhi (11-You Jia, 90), 14-Li Danyang, 20-Zhou Gaoping; 15-Sun Ling (17-Pang Fengyue, 80), 6-Zhang Na, 19-Qu Shanshan (7-Sun Lisha, 63), 24-Gu Yasha (3-Yu Fan, 46); 9-Wang Yihang (8-Xu Yuan, 46), 13-Ma Jun
Subs not used: 4-Xu Wenjia, 12-Zhang Jieli, 16-Wang Dongni, 18-Huang Luna, 26-Zhang Nan, 35-Hou Xuecheng
Head Coach: Li Xiaopeng
Statistical Summary: USA / CHN
Shots: 16 / 8
Shots on Goal: 3 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 9 / 4
Fouls: 6 / 13
Offside: 5 / 2
CHN – Zhang Na (caution) 46+ minute
CHN – Yu Fan (caution) 65
CHN – Zhou Gaoping (caution) 80
Referee: Margaret Domka (USA)
Assistant Referee: Deborah Coleman (USA)
Assistant Referee: Ross Kleinstauber (USA)
Fourth Official: Emilie Buse (USA)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan