July 24, 2006

Wagner and Osborne Play Vital Roles In U.S. Victories

July 24, 2006

U.S. Soccer Homepage

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Two former Santa Clara women's soccer standouts had a successful week along with the U.S. Women's National Team, which defeated Sweden 3-2 in Blaine, Minn. Sunday, July 16, and then followed that up with a 5-0 thumping of Ireland yesterday at Torero Stadium in San Diego. Aly Wagner (`01) notched an assist against the Irish Sunday while midfielder Leslie Osborne (`05) started both contests for the U.S., playing the full 90 against the Swedish team.

The victories upped the squad's 2006 record to 8-0-3 and kept head coach Greg Ryan undefeated through the first 20 games of his tenure. Wagner, Osborne, and the rest of the American side will conclude their July schedule next Sunday, July 30, against Canada at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., the venue of the 2006 College Cup. The match will be televised live at 10 a.m. PT on ESPN2.

"We scored five quality goals today," said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan, who moved to 16-0-4 at the helm of the United States. "I am real happy with that and we created a lot of other chances as well. As you could see, we had a lot of young players on the field. Kristine Lilly wasn't here, Shannon Boxx was out with an injury. I don't think we quite had the rhythm with possession, but I am always happy to see the goals go in."

While game-time temperatures were hot, they didn't equal the stifling humidity of Minnesota during the USA's win over Sweden last weekend, and the Americans took the game to the unlucky Irish from the opening whistle. Unlike last week when there were three goals scored in the last four minutes and the U.S. got the winner with seconds left, there was no drama this afternoon.

Ireland played in a defensive 5-4-1 formation, packing the back with green shirts as the U.S. midfield was given more space than usual. With the middle packed, all the U.S. goals originated from the flanks.

The USA out-shot Ireland 36-3 and scored its first in the 20th minute. The goal sequence started when midfielder Carli Lloyd spun a pass down the left flank to Christie Welsh, who beat a defender and dribbled at the near post before hitting a hard pass on the ground to the cutting O'Reilly. The U.S. forward was making a hard run to the near post and got inside position on her defender, spinning a shot with the outside of the right foot off the sprawling Irish 'keeper Byrne and into the net from two yards out.

The second goal came in the 39th minute off a corner kick from the rightside. Aly Wagner spun a cross in that was met on a sizzling first time volley by defender Tina Frimpong. The flying Byrne made a great save, but pushed the ball right to Whitehill who was framing the goal in the right side of the goal box. The ball dropped perfectly to Whitehill, who struck a first-time volley with the laces of her right foot, sticking the ball into the left corner from four yards out.

The U.S. struck again in the 62nd minute on a play that started when right back Heather Mitts won the ball in the air and headed it to second-half substitute Marci Miller. Miller switched the ball immediately to the left side where Chalupny beat her defender to the ball and raced down the wing into space. Chalupny then sent a driven cross to Wambach, who making a hard run behind the Ireland defense, and the 5-foot-11 forward converted the spectacular diving header for her 56th career goal.

The fourth goal came from the foot of Kai in the 74th minute, courtesy of a perfect pass from Wagner, who turned with the ball just over the midfield line and played a great curling pass behind the Ireland defense on the right side. Kai settled the ball on the run and was in alone on Byrne, before slotting her shot into the lower left corner from 12 yards out. It was Kai's fourth goal in just seven career appearances.

The U.S. scored the final goal one minute before the end of the game as Whitehill completed her brace to record her second career two-goal game. Wagner bent in a corner kick that Ireland's Nicole Scherick mis-cleared right to the feet of Whitehill, who poked the loose ball into the net from six yards out. The goal upped Whitehill's career total to nine, good for third best all-time among U.S. defenders.

U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, a former star for the U.S. Under-19s, got her first senior team cap when the 21-year-old came on in the 69th minute for O'Reilly. In the absence of Lilly and the injured Shannon Boxx, Wambach captained the USA for the first time. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made twosaves in recording her 15th career shutout.

The USA upped its 2006 record to 8-0-3 in 2006 and finishes its July schedule against Canada at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. next weekend on Sunday, July 30. Kickoff for that match is 1 p.m. ET. The USA will also play on Aug. 27 against China at the brand new Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., with a Noon CT kickoff. On Sept. 13, the USA will play at the new PAETEC Park in Rochester, N.Y., against Mexico. That match will kickoff at 8 p.m. ET. All three games will be broadcast live on ESPN2.