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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

May 10, 2008
A TRI FOR KAI
U.S. rolls over Canada 6-0

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Natasha Kai scoring her third goal of the game.
Natasha Kai scoring her third goal of the game.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
WASHINGTON, D.C---Natasha Kai used her head twice and her feet once. Waving her arms at the crowd every time, as she scored three goals to lead the United States to a 6-0 win over Canada Saturday night.

Abby Wambach, who usually has the role of goalscorer, had three assists.

“Natasha is a goalscorer,” said Wambach. “She can disappear for minutes on end, but put her inside the 18—she’s deadly.”

It was the third straight win on U.S. soil for the Americans, after qualifying for the 2008 Olympics last month in Mexico. It was also the most dominating victory of the year against a team they needed pks to beat in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Despite the dominating win, coach Pia Sundhage still thinks the team has some things to work on. “We’re not careful enough with the ball. We’re too rushed going forward. In some parts, the defending could be a little better.”

If they gave points for artistry, the USA’s goal in the 23rd minute certainly would have counted for something. Wambach dribbled in on the left side and laid a perfect ball off to a charging Tarpley, who made a precision finish into the upper right corner of the net.

Kai staked the U.S. to a 2-0 lead in the 54th minute. It was Carli Lloyd’s long ball from 25 yards out that floated above Kai and a Canadian defender. Kai managed to head it down, hitting goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the hand before settling into the net.

Kai added her second goal five minutes later. This time it was Heather O’Reilly who got things started, dribbling deep into the Canadian area before laying the ball back to Shannon Boxx, who was about 25 yards out. Boxx hammered a pass into the area, where it was met by a diving Kai.

The U.S. got their third goal in less than nine minutes in the 63rd. Lloyd shredded the Canadian defense to pounce on a through ball from Wambach. She dribbled around McLeod before cutting the ball back the other way and into the net.

After firing a point blank shot at McLeod in the 71st minute, Kai finally got her hat trick, this time putting a slow rolling shot off a cross by Wambach behind McLeod.

Ever-effervescent and waving her arms at the crowd, Kai reveled in the chants of “USA” from the crowd of 9,332.
“For me a goal is a goal,” said Kai, who’s last hat trick came in college. “It doesn’t matter who scores it. It was a whole team effort. Those three goals started from the back

A couple of second half subs got into the act in the 88th minute, with Amy Rodriguez sending a service from the right to Leslie Osborne. Osborne’s falling away shot rolled into the far corner of the net.

The U.S. was on the offensive most of the game, outshooting the Canadians 9-2 in the first half and 6-0 in the second. They also held a 10-0 advantage in shots on goal, and goalkeeper Hope Solo did not have to make a single save.

“I have to get used to it,” Solo said of the lack of activity, but also noting “It’s smart soccer. It’s beautiful soccer.”

After a few minutes of slowly feeling out the Canada defense, Wambach had the first chance of the game in the fifth minute, but her shot was touched wide by a defender.

A few minutes later, Lloyd made a great effort at the top of the penalty area, chesting the ball down to herself, before being knocked off her feet. Boxx followed up quickly, but sent her shot directly at McLeod.

Wambach had an agonizing chance in the 23rd minute, when she got free in the area, only to put a header over the top of the net.

In the 35th minute, the 5-11 Wambach outmuscled Candace Chapman for the ball in the penalty area before it was poked out for a corner kick. Lloyd’s corner rattled around dangerously in the area before it was cleared.

Wambach created another great chance in the 40th minute, this time making a perfect 20 yard run down the left side before sending her shot wide to the right.

It wasn’t until Kai opened the scoring in the second half that the U.S. forays in front of Canada’s goal became dangerous. Then it looked like they could not be stopped.


SCORING:
USA--Tarpley (Wambach) 24
USA—Kai (Lloyd) 54
USA—Kai (Boxx) 60
USA--Lloyd (Wambach)63
USA—Kai (Wambach) 75
USA—Osborne (Rodriguez) 87
   
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