Sept. 30, 2007
By Michael Lewis
STILL IN THE BRONZE AGE
Wambach gives U.S. 4-1 victory over Norway for third place in WWC
Shanghai, China -- It took six games, but the U.S. broke out of its offensive doldrums Sunday night by securing a 4-1 win over Norway in the third-place match of the Women’s World Cup.
|Abby Wambach lifted the U.S. into a 1-0 halftime advantage over Norway in the WWC third-place game.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Striker Abby Wambach scored a goal in each half and Lori Chalupny and Heather O’Reilly also found the back of the net for the two-time champion Americans, who took home bronze medals for the third time in five tournaments.
They received their medals after defending champion Germany met Brazil for the world championship in the second game of the doubleheader.
It was the second consecutive Cup that the U.S. finished third, duplicating its feat at USA 2003.
The Americans, who scored seven goals in five matches prior to the encounter, at Shanghai Honkou Football Stadium, each earned a $10,000 bonus from U.S. Soccer for finishing third. They would not have gotten a cent if they took fourth place.
Wambach first struck in the 30th minute. Only seconds after forward Heather O'Reilly forced defender Gunhild Folstad to kick the ball over the goal line, Stephanie Lopez sent in a corner kick from the left side that goalkeeper Bente Nordby punched away.
The ball went to midfielder Louri Chalupny at the top of the penalty box and she fired a shot that Wambach back heeled past Nordby from six yards.
Only a minute into the second half, Wambach made it a two-goal advantage off another Lopez corner. This time defender Cat Whitehill took a close-range shot that was blocked by Nordby. Wambach, however, was there to slot home the rebound for her sixth goal. That broke a tie with Carin Gabarra, who netted five goals in the 1991 WWC in China, for the second most goals scored by an American in a competition.
The Americans continued to take advantage of their speed against the slower Norwegians in the second half. Chalupny scored from 12 yards in the 57th minute and O’Reilly was rewarded by her hard work with a goal several minutes later.
Norway, however, struck back in the 63rd minute. Forward Ragnhild Gulbrandsen headed in her sixth goal of the tournament, lofting the ball over an outstretched Scurry.
Regardless what transpired in the match, the U.S. began it with controversy overshadowing every kick.
Briana Scurry started in the nets for the Americans, while Hope Solo watched the game with his family back at the team hotel.
Solo was banished from the team, at least for the third-place match, for her comments criticizing coach Greg Ryan and Scurry.
Ryan was forced to make two changes from the team that was embarrassed by Brazil in a 4-0 semifinal loss in Hangzhou Thursday night, using two players who had seen a total of 16 minutes of action prior to the match.
Midfielder Aly Wagner replaced Shannon Boxx, who was serving a red-card suspension and defender Marian Dalmy took over for the injured Kate Markgraf (sprained ankle).
While Wambach had the goal, her two colleagues up front enjoyed active opening halves. O'Reilly was a constant threat down the left flank, setting up several corner kicks.
Kristine Lilly, playing as though she was in her final international, placed four shots toward the goal, but none went it.
Where do you want to start?
How about three minutes into the match when the Wilton, Conn. native placed a just over the net from the right side.
She shot wide left in the 37th minute, and fired a 23-yarder wide right in the 38th minute.
Her most dangerous attempt came a minute into stoppage time as her twisting shot from the right side was somehow tipped away by the back of Nordby's hand.