April 16, 2007
Story Courtesy of U.S. Soccer. For more information, please visit www.ussoccer.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass - The U.S. Women's National Team opened its 2007 domestic schedule with style, defeating Mexico, 5-0, on Friday night at Gillette Stadium as Boston resident Kristine Lilly scored twice in front of her hometown crowd while Abby Wambach, Lindsay Tarpley and Lauren Cheney added single goals.
The match was just the sixth-ever for the U.S. women on artificial surface and while the turf was a bit slick, the Americans used the pace to their advantage, getting around the outside of the Mexican defense frequently to pile up a 35-7 shot margin.
The teams last met on November 22, 2006, a 2-0 U.S. victory in the semifinal of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup that sent the USA to the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, but this match would not be as tight.
The USA started the match in a 3-4-3 formation with Lilly, Wambach and Tarpley deployed on the forward line showing great chemistry while putting intense pressure on the Mexican backs. Defender Cat Whitehill swept behind marking backs Heather Mitts and Christie Rampone as the U.S. defense kept the Mexican attack from getting anything significant started.
"We tried to throw a lot of numbers forward," said Ryan, who remained undefeated at the helm of the U.S. Women's National Team. "We played a system (3-4-3) that we don't normally play, but one we want to be able to play as an alternative. The goal is to win the ball, pressure and get it forward and attack as relentlessly as we could. Over the course of the game it went well. We organized our defending a little bit better which gave us more opportunities to get forward.
"I thought Abby, Lilly and Tarpley played some of the best soccer off of one another that I have seen in a while; in terms of understanding where each player was. I was really pleased to see that kind of chemistry. I'm very, very pleased with this team."
The USA's first goal came in 10th minute as Tarpley leapt in the air while bringing down a long ball that she touched to Wambach down the left flank. The U.S. forward toasted Mexican defender Elizabeth Gomez to the outside, cut back inside to lose Rubi Sandoval and drilled her right-footed shot into the right corner side netting for her 69th career goal in just 89 games.
Tarpley added the second in the 33rd minute, her 14th career goal, but it was created by Lilly who blazed down the right side before bending a cross into the middle on the ground. Tarpley's first-time shot was kick-saved by Mexican goalkeeper Sophia Perez, but she dug out the rebound from two Mexican defenders and knocked her second shot in from three yards out to make it 2-0 going into halftime.
The USA added a third goal, and effectively sealed the match, just five minutes into the second half as Lilly scored her first goal, delighting the boisterous crowd. The goal came from the middle of the field as she ran onto a bouncing ball that seemed to take forever to settle on the artificial surface, then blasted a half-volley with her trademark left foot that soared over Mexican goalkeeper Sophia Perez and just under the crossbar from 32 yards away.
Lilly added her second goal of the game, and 121st of her legendary career in the 70th minute as Abby Wambach did the heavy lifting, plowing into the left side of the penalty area before rolling a cross to the penalty spot. Lilly eluded a defender, squared up on Perez and calmly slotted the ball into the left corner.
The USA added a final goal just two minutes from time and it was a memorable one for the 19-year-old Cheney, who was playing in just her second career match for the full National Team. Ryan inserted the former U-20 international into the game with eight minutes left, and six minutes after that, she had her first international score.
Substitute Heather O'Reilly got the assist, streaking down the left flank before crossing to Cheney, who scored from 17 yards out, drilling her shot into the left corner from straight away in front of the net.
Perez had a solid game for Mexico, holding several crosses well and making several fine saves, but she was powerless to do anything with on the five goals as the American athleticism overwhelmed their southern neighbors.
Mexico had some decent possession at times, but most of their shots were from distance and did not trouble U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. Mexico's lone dangerous chance came from Monica Ocampo in the first half as she forced Solo into a dive to her left to palm away a shot that skipped off the turf.
Marian Dalmy, a 22-year-old defender out of Santa Clara University, earned her first-ever cap in the match, coming on for the last four minutes in place of Wambach.
The U.S. women, who are currently involved in a four-month Residency Training Camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., return to the field on May 12 in Frisco, Texas with a match against Canada that will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. CT. The USA will wear pink uniforms in that match to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness, the first time ever that the U.S. women have worn a special limited edition jersey. The USA will then embark on a six-game 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup Send-Off Series, starting against China on June 16 in Cleveland and continuing against Brazil on June 23 in East Rutherford, N.J. in a re-match of the 2004 Olympic gold medal game.
The USA will then travel to East Hartford, Connecticut, and Rentschler Field to play Norway on July 14 as Lilly makes a triumphant return to her home state. After facing Norway, the USA will play three more soon-to-be announced domestic games over July and August before leaving for the Women's World Cup.