CARSON, Calif. (November 22, 2006) – Star striker Abby Wambach scored two goals as the U.S. Women’s National Team notched a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Mexico in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup at The Home Depot Center. The victory earned the USA one of CONCACAF’s two direct berths to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China.
The victory earned the team its fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance since the tournament’s inception in 1991. The USA becomes the 12th team to qualify for the event, joining host China, Australia and North Korea from Asia; Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and England from Europe; Nigeria and Ghana from Africa; and Canada, which defeated Jamaica, 4-0, in the first semifinal of the evening. The 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be staged from Sept. 10-30 in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu and Tianjin.
With the win, the U.S. extended their consecutive-games unbeaten steak to a record 31 games, besting the team’s previous mark of 30 matches unbeaten set from February 10, 1996, through Oct. 9, 1997, under Tony DiCicco. The USA also moved to 17-0-4 in 2006 and remains undefeated in regulation time under head coach Greg Ryan.
The USA’s first goal came in the 10th minute and originated off a free kick from the right wing as defender Cat Whitehill played a worm-burner that Kristine Lilly brought under control at the top of the penalty area. She then chipped a short pass to Lloyd who stayed onside running into the right side of the penalty box. Lloyd turned on the ball and hit a first-time drive on frame that was partially saved by Mexican goalkeeper Sophia Perez. The ball, however, squirted out of her hands and Wambach pounced on it instantaneously, slamming it into the net from inside the six-yard box with a sliding right-footed shot.
The game’s second goal was created by Kristine Lilly in the 64th minute as she dispossessed Mexican defender Elizabeth Gomez deep in the left corner, then beat her to the end line before whipping a cross to the near post. To score the goal, Wambach made a hard run and beat her defender to the near post to re-direct a spectacular header past the frozen Perez from a tough angle.
"There was tremendous pressure tonight," said head coach Greg Ryan. "One game and you’re in. We've got a very young team, with a lot of players that were playing their first qualifier tonight. And I think it was a very difficult situation, and what we got was a professional result. Our team defending was fantastic. One aspect of this team is that we have great players like Abby (Wambach) and Lil (Kristine Lilly) who find ways to win games for us. And they did that tonight."
Wambach’s two goals upped her total to 66 in 83 all-time matches for the U.S. Women, the best goals per game ratio in the team’s 22-year history.
"I can't say enough about the stress that is relieved in qualifying for a World Cup. Especially when you are projected to (qualify) and you are in a region where the tournament is one game and you are in," said Wambach after the game. "It's a pressure situation, and we, of course, draw Mexico and they are a team that sometimes, well, you never know what you are going to get with Mexico. We played them a couple of months ago and they brought a total different look than what they brought today. It means a lot to every single player on this team. We've dedicated so much time, and so much of our lives to pick up ship and move out here for half the year and train. It is so important to all of us."
Mexico attacked with primarily three players during the match, which was not enough to get past a tough USA back four and defensive midfielder Leslie Osborne, who helped the team record their fourth straight shutout and 13th of the year. The victory also increased the USA’s all-time record against Mexico to 18-0, including 4-0-0 in Women’s World Cup qualifying.
The USA will now face Canada for the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup title on Sunday, Nov. 26, at the HDC. Kickoff is 5:30 p.m. PT and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow the action live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Canada made it to the final by wearing down a gutsy Jamaica side as star forward Christine Sinclair scored twice for the Canucks.
Before the championship game, Mexico will take on Jamaica for a berth in the two-game playoff against Japan, with the winner of that home-and-away series earning the final spot to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Following Sunday’s final, the USA will have the rest of the year off and will not come together again until mid-January to start its 2007 schedule leading up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Mexico
Competition: 2006 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup - Semifinal
Venue: Home Depot Center; Carson, California
Date: November 22, 2006; Kickoff - 7:00 p.m. PT
Weather: Cool, misty - 62 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
MEX 0 0 0
USA - Abby Wambach (Carli Lloyd) 10th minute.
USA - Abby Wambach (Kristine Lilly) 64.
USA - 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Whitehill, 17-Lori Chalupny; 12-Leslie Osborne, 11-Carli Lloyd, 10-Aly Wagner; 5-Lindsay Tarpley (9-Heather O'Reilly, 64), 20-Abby Wambach (6-Natasha Kai, 88), 13-Kristine Lilly - Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 7-Marci Miller, 8-Tina Frimpong, 14-Stephanie Lopez, 16-Angela Hucles.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
MEX - 20-Sophia Perez; 2-Elizabeth Gomez, 3-Rubi Sandoval, 5-Maria De Jesus Castillo, 15-Luz Saucedo; 4-Monica Gonzalez (6-Monica Vergara, 77); 7-Juana Lopez (10-Iris Mora, 54), 8-Fatima Leyva (13-Maria De Lourdes Gordillo, 82), 18-Guadalupe Worbis; 17-Monica Ocampo, 9-Maribel Domínguez - Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Pamela Tajonar, 11-Patricia Perez, 14-Isabel Valdez, 16-Carmen Padilla.
Head Coach: Leo Cuellar
USA / MEX
Shots: 16 / 5
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 15 / 15
Offside: 4 / 0
MEX - Maribel Dominguez (caution) 46th minute.
MEX - Iris Mora (caution) 63.
USA - Carli Lloyd (caution) 88.
Referee: Dianne Ferreira-James (GUY)
Asst. Referee: Jackqueline Saez (PAN)
Asst. Referee: Cynette Jeffrey (GUY)
4th Official: Cecibel Ortega (SLV)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach
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