April 12, 2008
USWNT wins CONCACAF crown in PKs
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico---The U.S. Women’s National Team got a dramatic overtime free-kick goal from Carli Lloyd before Canada tied the game three minutes from the end, sending the match into a penalty kick shootout where the Americans prevailed 6-5 to win the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.
|Carli Lloyd scored in overtime and in the shootoout.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Both teams had already secured their berths to the 2008 Beijing Olympics with semifinal victories, but the U.S. triumph moved its record in CONCACAF competitions to 27-0-1 and marked the eighth overall confederation title for the USA. It also marked the third straight tournament championship under head coach Pia Sundhage after winning the Four Nations in China in January and the Algarve Cup in March.
In the 107th minute, Canadian forward Kara Lang chopped down Lloyd on a hard tackle from behind about 28 yards from the net just left of the penalty arc, earning a yellow card for the challenge. Lloyd sent her hard, dipping shot over the wall and into the lower left corner on a bounce.
Canada got an improbable equalizer just three minutes from the end of overtime. The Canadians earned a corner kick which was floated in from the left side to Melissa Tancredi, who jumped in a pack of players and nodded the ball home from close range. It was Canada’s only shot on goal in the whole second half and overtime, but good enough to send the game to penalties.
But in the end, it was U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart who ended up being the hero, diving to her left to push away Brittany Timko’s penalty kick on Canada’s seventh attempt of the shootout.
Lloyd started the USA off in what was a series of extremely well taken kicks by both teams with a blast into the lower left corner. Then, Canadian captain Christine Sinclair converted her spot kick, as Nicole Barnhart got her whole hand on the ball but couldn’t turn it away. Substitute Angela Hucles scored the USA’s second kick before Canadian defender Martina Franko pinged her shot off the left post.
The USA could have taken the lead, but McLeod dove to her left to push away Lori Chalupny’s chance and Tancredi then converted to tie the shootout at 2-2 after three kicks.
Christie Rampone, the U.S. captain, stepped up to coolly finish her kick before Clare Rustad did the same. On the USA’s fifth kick, Wambach came up big, blasting her shot home, and forcing Canada to convert to send the game into sudden death. Lang was up to the task and powered her shot into the left corner.
Osborne then blasted her spot kick home before Rhian Wilkinson matched the effort to make it 5-5 after six kicks each. O’Reilly then slotted her chance into the net, setting the stage for Barnhart’s heroics. Timko hit her shot solid, but too close to Barnhart, who slapped the ball away.
Barnhart had also made two excellent saves early in the game, diving to save a sliding shot from Sinclair in the seventh minute and then tipping a driven effort from Jonelle Filigno over the crossbar in the 16th minute.
In the 50th minute, Tarpley sent a great cross from the left wing that was headed down by Wambach, who was a halftime substitute, but this time Amy Rodriguez sent her shot just wide left. In the 75th minute, O'Reilly crossed from the right and Rodriguez hit a hard volley on net, only to see McLeod dive to snag it with one hand. McLeod later saved a Rodriguez break-away as well.
Canada had a chance to win the game six minutes from the end of regulation after Matheson won a tackle from Chalupny in the right side of the box, got up and played a ball back to Lang. But, with an open shot, Lang hit her chance just wide left of the post.
The USA then had a chance to end it with just one minute left in regulation as Lloyd hit a screaming roller-coaster of a shot from 35 yards out that thundered off the crossbar at the upper left corner. Wambach was in on goal for the rebound, but couldn’t control the hard bounce and did not get off a shot before Canada was able to clear it way.
McLeod made a brilliant kick-save on Wambach in the 105th minute and then in the 108th somehow got a hand to Wambach’s flick header off a bending free-kick from Lloyd, pushing it off the left post. Soon after, McLeod made another kick-save on Wambach as she dribbled all the way to the goal on the left side and tried to stuff her shot into the near post.
A rare sight happened in the 116th minute as Markgraf scored during a goal mouth scramble after a corner kick, but the ball had hit her hand before she finished. It would have been Markgraf’s first career goal in 176 caps.
The goal allowed by Barnhart was actually the first she’s let past her in eight career caps. Along with Barnhart, Sundhage started three other relatively inexperienced players in the championship game, giving Rodriguez her 15th cap, defender Rachel Buehler, who played extremely well at right back, her sixth, and White her fourth.