Wagner Scores In U.S. Win

March 13, 2006

FARO, Portugal - The U.S. Women's National Team got a goal from captain Kristine Lilly just 28 seconds into the game and another from former Santa Clara star Aly Wagner en route to a 4-1 win over France in its final Group B match at the Algarve Cup.

Wagner, Lindsay Tarpley, and Natasha Kai all tallied in the second half to secure the USA's spot in the Algarve Cup Championship for the fourth straight year. It was Kai's second goal in as many games after scoring in her national team debut against Denmark on March 11. Lilly's goal was the 109th of her career.

For the second year in a row, the Americans will face Germany for the Algarve Cup title when the two world powers clash on Wednesday, March 15, at the Stadium Algarve. The championship match features the top two teams in the world in the current FIFA rankings as well as the 2004 Olympic champions (USA) against the 2003 Women's World Cup champions (Germany). The game will kick off at 4:30 local time / 11:30 a.m. ET and fans can follow all the action on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.

The Germans, who had already qualified for the championship match after two wins in their group, finished off Group A with a 1-0 victory over Norway while playing numerous reserves, and will head into the title game having scored nine goals while allowing none. The USA has also scored nine goals.

"I am very, very happy with today's game," said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan. "We wanted to go out and put France under a lot of pressure, try and create chances behind them. I thought we did that well throughout the game, but we took our chances better in the second half. France has been defending really well in their other games so I was happy we could break down their defense as much as we did."

The lightning quick U.S. goal came after Wagner scooped up a free ball while running at the French back line just over the center circle in France's defensive half. She played a quick ball on the ground to Abby Wambach, who was making a run up the middle. The U.S. forward collected the ball as she slowed a bit and then played a square pass to Lilly on the left edge of the penalty area. Lilly's first touch couldn't quite settle the bouncing ball, but that turned out to be fortuitous, as she hammered a half-volley that dipped over French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, hit off the underside of the bar, bounced down hard on the goal line, and then back up into the roof of the net.

During the USA's 0-0 tie with France at the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, the Americans struggled to create scoring chances, especially getting balls in dangerous spaces behind the French defense. That was not the case at Stadium Algarve as Wagner probed the French defense with deft passes for the entire game while the USA fired 20 shots, putting half of them on goal. The U.S. defense limited the French to just one shot in the first half and four for the match.

Needing a victory to make the championship game, France came out with some increased energy early in the second half, and got one good chance from star forward Marinette Pichon, but U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made a diving save to catch the 12-yard shot at the left post.

The save loomed even larger as the U.S. then attacked and scored a pair of goals in two minutes to put the match away.

Heather O'Reilly set up the first in the 49th minute after she sprinted down the right flank only to be cut off by French defender Laura Georges. O'Reilly then pressured her into a horrible clearance in the back, latched onto the rolling ball and dribbled into the penalty area. She wound up to shoot, drawing a defender to her, then unselfishly slipped an square ball inside to Wagner, who was making a run behind her. Wagner took a good touch to get behind the defense and had a one-on-one with the `keeper before slotting it past the onrushing Bouhaddi into the left corner. It was her 20th international goal.

One minute later, O'Reilly was the catalyst again, streaking down the right sideline before cutting the ball back to the inside and playing a looping left-footed cross over the defense into the left side of the penalty area. A French defender tried to clear, but instead played the ball into the path of Tarpley, who cracked a first-time left-footed half-volley into the left side netting from 14 yards out. It was Tarpley's ninth career international goal.

U.S. defensive midfielder Shannon Boxx was dominant on the ground and in the air during the match, leading a U.S. defense that pressured the French all over the field.

Aside from Pichon's chance, halftime substitute Hoda Lattaf was France's most dangerous player, and she finally broke through the U.S. defense in the 64th minute. Lattaf's goal was the first against the USA from the run of play in the last 1,442 minutes, a span equal to 16 matches.

It was a beautiful goal as she ran under a cross from the right flank and took it down well in the left side of the penalty area. She then lifted the ball over Christie Rampone before slipping past the U.S. defender and hammering a left-footed full volley past Solo from 14 yards out.

The U.S. stuck in the dagger in the 76th minute as Kai scored after coming on just three minutes earlier. Wambach slipped a pass from the left side through the defense and Kai made a great run to beat the restraining line. Finding herself one-on-one with Bouhaddi, Kai tried to dribble around her to the right, but the French goalkeeper made a good save to stuff the ball at her feet. Kai stumbled to the ground, but as the ball popped loose, she regained her footing and spun to the inside to chip the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net with her left foot. It was a remarkably similar finish to her first goal against Denmark.

Bouhaddi came up with a handful of quality saves, including a flying stop of Wagner's header after O'Reilly had lifted a perfect pass to the far post from the left flank late in the first half.

France played the last 20 minutes with 10 women when Sandrine Soubeyrand was sent off in the 69th minute for a second yellow card after a hard foul on substitute Carli Lloyd. Soubeyrand had oddly received her first yellow card in the 56th minute for cutting across the field of play to get from the endline to midfield in order to re-enter the game after she had gone off for an injury behind the goal.

Defender Stephanie Lopez earned her first-ever start with the full National Team and the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team captain played extremely well at left back, going the entire 90 minutes in just her third ever game for the senior squad.

For the second game in a row, Ryan was able to make all six allowed substitutes in the second half, getting quality minutes for several young players including Kai (22 years old), Lloyd (23), Amy Rodriguez (19), and Leslie Osborne (22).

In the other games on MatchDay 3, China hammered injury-plagued Denmark, 6-0, and will face Sweden, a 4-1 winner over Finland in Group A, for third place. Mexico also lit up the scoreboard, routing host Portugal, 6-0, to win Group C. The Mexicans will face Finland for seventh place, France will play Norway for fifth place and Denmark will play Ireland for 9th place.


Match-up: USA vs. France
Competition: 2006 Algarve Cup
Venue: Stadium Algarve; Faro, Portugal
Date: March 13, 2006; Kickoff – 3:30 p.m. local / 13:00 a.m. ET
Attendance: 400
Weather: Sunny, light breeze – 70 degrees

Scoring Summary:
            1     2     F

USA    1     3    4
FRA    0      1   1

USA – Kristine Lilly (Abby Wambach) 1st minute.
USA – Aly Wagner (Heather O’Reilly) 49.
USA – Lindsay Tarpley (unassisted) 50.
FRA – Hoda Lataff (n/a) 64.
USA – Natasha Kai (unassisted) 76.

USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (3-Christie Rampone, 61), 4-Cat Whitehill, 8-Tina Frimpong, 21-Stephanie Lopez; 7-Shannon Boxx (12-Leslie Osborne, 76), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (11-Carli Lloyd, 56), 10-Aly Wagner (15-Marci Miller, 70); 9-Heather O’Reilly (6-Natasha Kai, 73), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt. (16-Amy Rodriguez, 80)
Subs not used: 1-Jenni Branam, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 19-Christie Welsh.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

FRA: 16-Sarah Bouhaddi; 3-Peggy Provost, 4-Laura Georges, 5-Sabine Viguier (2-Delphine Blanc, 84), 7-Sandrine Dusang (20-Laure LePailleur, 46); 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand, 8-Sonia Bompastor, 10-Camille Abily, 15-Elise Bussaglia (14-Louisa Necib, 61); 9-Marinette Pichon (13-Ludivine Diguelman, 72), 11-Laetitia Tonazzi (18-Hoda Lattaf, 46).
Subs not used: 1- Celine Deville, 12-Elodie Thomas, 17-Marie-Ange Kramo, 19-Amelie Coquet.
Head Coach: Elisabeth Loisel

Statistical Summary:
20 / 4
Shots on Goal: 10 / 3
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 10 / 11
Offside: 8 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
FRA – Sandrine Soubeyrand (caution) 56th minute.
FRA -- Sandrine Soubeyrand (caution) 69.
FRA -- Sandrine Soubeyrand (sent off) 69.
FRA – Laure LePailleur (caution) 79.

Referee: Jenny Palmqvist (SWE)
Asst. Referee: Hege Steiland (NOR)
Asst. Referee: Susanne Borg (SWE)
4th Official: Dagmar Damkova (CZE)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Aly Wagner  


On the match:
“I am very, very happy with today’s game. We wanted to go out and put France under a lot of pressure, try and create chances behind them. I thought we did that well throughout the game, but we took our chances better in the second half. France has been defending really well in their other games so I was happy we could break down their defense as much as we did.”

On the first goal:
“We kept playing and putting them under pressure, but France continued to play well. They created a great chance before halftime that Hope saved. To be honest, I didn’t feel like the first goal changed the game, I just felt like it was the same match and France was still in it if they could get an equalizer. I think what changed the game was the first goal in the second half. When that one went in, you know that they are in real trouble and they have to step up even more, and then we got the third.”

On the nine goals in the last two games:
“I think we are understanding how to attack as a group now and we didn’t have that understanding before. We are starting to figure out how to use everyone’s abilities. Aly’s ability to play runners in behind, O’Reilly’s ability to make great runs and Abby’s ability to target. Every time you get Lilly around the goal, it’s dangerous. I think we are growing in our ability to attack.”

On Wambach:
“Abby is the soul of this team. It’s her fighting spirit, always battling, and the goals are going to come for her. We are not going to worry about that because we have plenty of people who can score goals, but she gives us that special quality of energy and power.”

On Natasha Kai’s two goals in two games:
“Tasha’s a goal scorer. She loves scoring goals. Every time she steps on the field, she believes she’s going to score and she’s right most of the time.”

On her first start:
“I think when you get into a game like that, there is so much to think about out there, constantly going up and back, you don’t have time to think about how nervous you are about starting in a national team game against France. You are just thinking about all the things you have to do.”

On the quick goal:
“I thought the first goal sent a message to France that we were ready for this (game). After tying them in China, we definitely wanted to come out and put pressure on them, and what a great shot by Lil’.”

On the two quick goals in the second half:
“That’s pretty impressive, two goals in two minutes, but the most important thing to realize is that it comes from our defense. We are playing great team defense and from there, that’s how our attack is built.”

Contrasting today’s match against the teams’ last meeting at the Four Nations Tournament in January:
“The field was bigger and the field was smooth, it was great turf, so that makes (the midfielders) job a heck of a lot easier. We were able to settle it. We knew going into the game, after they tried to squeeze (the midfield) last time, that we had to play balls over the top and play them wide. We didn’t really have that mindset in China like we needed to. I think we had the composure on the ball and we were just trying to stretch them, then play underneath, so I think our decisions and execution were ten times better.”

On her goal after 28 seconds:
“For this group right now, if you can get an early goal, it relaxes a lot of nerves out there. I was fortunate enough to get one in the first minute, which was nice. We caught them expanding the defense and Abby played a great ball to me… When it hit the crossbar, I was like ‘please just bounce over the line.’ When something like that happens, the team can take a breath, and you can get into the game a bit easier.”

On the team’s attack:
“Right now, we’re finishing our chances, and we are creating more…France was trying keep the game real small and real tight, and we were stretching them with balls over the top. But what’s on now is that our balls are there, and the runs are there. And we’re getting chances on the break, and we’re putting them in. Players are finishing when they need to, which is great right now.”

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