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Oct. 13, 2007
U.S. Women defeat Mexico 5-1

ST. LOUIS, Mo.– Two weeks after finishing in third place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the United States found its offense when it really didn’t matter, defeating Mexico 5-1 in a meaningless exhibition in front of 10,000 at the Edward Jones Dome Saturday night.

Abby Wambach scored twice in the second half while Heather O’Reilly, Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd also added scores.

Mexico scored in just the third minute to take the lead. The goal came after a U.S. give-away in the back, which bounced to Mexico’s Monica Ocampo. She quickly played a square pass Evelyn Lopez, who fired a shot from the top of the penalty area that took a wicked deflection off a U.S. defender and looped past U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who seemed to have had the original shot covered.

After 20 minutes of excellent Mexican pressure spearheaded by Ocampo and midfielder Tania Morales, a period in which the Mexicans earned five corner kicks, the USA started to regain possession, settled down and took back control of the match.

In fact, Mexico took just two more shot the rest of the game, one of which drew an athletic save from Scurry as she tipped the ball away at the upper left corner before crashing into post. The other was an innocuous free kick from Ocampo late in the game.

The tying goal came off a series of quick passes that led to a cross from the right side which found Leslie Osborne at the top of the penalty box. She played another pass to O’Reilly in the left side of the area. The U.S. forward took a settling touch and then smacked a left-footed shot across the goal and into the lower right corner from about eight yards out. It was O’Reilly’s 14th career goal and sixth of 2007.

Embattled U.S. coach Greg Ryan made two subs in the 33rd minute, one for the injured Marian Dalmy who took a knock on her knee, and moved to a 3-4-3 formation. Lindsay Tarpley and Aly Wagner entered the game as the USA continued to pepper the Mexican goal. Lilly had several near misses at the end of the half, which only fore-shadowed the four-goal outburst after the break.

The USA started the second half quickly and never let up, as Mexican goalkeeper Sophia Perez saved a point blank shot from Tarpley less than two minutes after the restart. Perez also acrobatically parried away a blast from Lilly. St. Louis native Lori Chalupny almost delighted her hometown crowd in the 65th minute, sprinting to cut off a Mexican pass out of the back and darted into the penalty area, only to send her shot just wide right of the goal from deep on the left side. Chalupny left the match in the 84th to a rousing ovation from the St. Louis crowd.

“It feels so good to get back home and play,” said Chalupny, who scored twice at the Women’s World Cup. “This is a great crowd that came out to the game. I’m so pleased, and I am glad we were able to get a nice victory for them and get some fun goals.”

The U.S. team finally took the lead in the 57th minute off a play that originated from a short corner kick. The first pass was played to O’Reilly, who was tackled, but the ball rolled to Wagner just outside the penalty area on the right side. She spun first-time cross to the far post and Wambach finished it on a diving header.

“It can be really difficult (coming off a World Cup) because as a team, whenever you’re focus is based on one tournament, there’s always this emotional and physical, not letdown, but you have to recover,” said Wambach. “We were trying to peak for the World Cup, so it was just natural for us to have had a weird first 20 minutes…We were able to bounce back at the end of the first half and get a goal to equalize, and then be able to come out in the second half and play our real soccer.”

The USA got its third goal in the 66th minute and this time Wambach was the provider. She ran under a perfect long ball from Whitehill that was sent into the left side of the penalty, settled it perfectly, and then played a square pass to Lilly. The U.S. captain blasted her shot into the left corner with the outside of her left foot from about 12 yards out. It was Lilly’s 128th career goal as she continued to increase her world record for caps in her 338th game.

The next goal came off a free kick as the Whitehill laced a free kick from 30 yards out that slammed off the chest of Perez and sat tantalizingly for Wambach, who pounced on the rebound to power the ball into the net from closer range before the Mexican goalkeeper could recover. It was Wambach’s 85th career goal in 103 career games as she continues to roll toward the magical 100-goal mark.

The final goal came in the 84th minute, just three minutes after Lloyd had entered the match. She won a poor clearance on the run toward the net, carried the ball about 20 yards and then cut her left-footed shot past the stranded Perez and into the right side of the goal. It was Lloyd’s ninth career goal.

The USA had numerous dangerous changes during its onslaught of 23 second-half shots, just missing on several while Perez made a handful of solid saves as well.

The win upped the USA’s record in 2007 18-1-3 with two matches left against Mexico this year.

The U.S. team now travels to Portland for the second match of the series vs. Mexico on Oct. 17 at PGE Park in Portland, Ore. Kickoff is a 7 p.m. PT. The final match of the three game tour will take place on Oct. 20 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M.,with a 4:30 p.m. MT kickoff.

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