October 29, 2009
Wambach lifts U.S. women over Germany
AUGSBURG, Germany -- Abby Wambach scored her 101st career goal on a header in the 34th minute and an excellent performance by the U.S. defense made sure it held up for a 1-0 victory against Germany in front of a capacity crowd at Impuls Arena Thursday.
|Abby Wambach scored her 101st international goal against Germany.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Impuls Arena, a new venue that will host matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, was sold out last week and 28,377 singing and chanting fans filled the stadium to cheer for their defending European and WWC champions against the defending Olympic champions. It was the first international match at the stadium and also set a record for the largest crowd to see a match at the venue in its young history.
The Germans were by far the better attacking team, outshooting the U.S., 17-7, but some suspect finishing and excellent individual and team defending from the Americans were the themes of the night.
"The Germans are very good," U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage said. "I give credit to the back four and Hope Solo in the goal and team defending. I am Swedish, but there is something to be said about the Americans. They are winners. Their attitude is fantastic and that is one of the reasons why we won today. Playing in front of this big crowd is unique, and it’s good for me personally and all the players. So today, I am very happy.”
Young center backs Amy LePeilbet and Rachel Buehler played extremely well and outside backs Heather Mitts and Lori Chalupny put a ton of running while chasing down many a German attack on the flanks. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was a calming presence in the back for the USA, handling her duties well, especially on high balls.
“It showed on the field when a team like Germany, who is confident on the ball, crafty and can get behind in multiple ways, doesn’t get a goal," Wambach said of the U.S. defense. "It’s just a lot of guts, a lot of practice and a lot of professionalism that goes into that, especially with Christie Rampone not being here. She has been the rock in the back and with her not here and for them to have such a great performance, it shows what kind of character they have in the back line.”
Sundhage was impressed with Solo, whom she thought was a key.
"Her calmness is contagious and our defenders know it is safe back there," she said. "They know what she can do. She’s vocal, organizes and the five them they had a really good game today.”
Rampone, who, as interim coach guided Sky Blue FC to the very first Women's Professional Soccer title in August, is pregnant.
The Germans came out attacking with impressive speed and numbers and never really slowed down. The hosts found their way around the outside of the U.S. defense on numerous occasions, but either the retreating U.S. backs were there to clear or Solo managed a great catch or a timely punch. It was Solo’s fourth straight shutout against Germany in the four games she has played against them.
The U.S. goal came clearly against the run of play and it stunned the sell-out crowd. The stage for a classy bit of finishing from Wambach was set after midfielder Yael Averbuch, who was making her first start in just her third cap, looped a cross in from the left wing. German defender Saskia Bartusiak got a foot on it, but cleared poorly and the ball spun up in the air. Wambach got good position under the falling ball and beat charging German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to nod a header into the net from near the penalty spot.
“It was kind of wet out there tonight and for this game to be only 1-0 is surprising considering the conditions," Wambach said. "I think we were kind of lucky to get the goal. It was a missed clearance, the keeper came out, probably shouldn’t have, and I put away a decent goal.”
It was Wambach’s 101st career international goal, moving her past Tiffeny Milbrett into fourth place on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list behind Mia Hamm (158) who attended the match, Kristine Lilly (129) and Michelle Akers (105).
Needless to say, Sundhage was quite pleased to have Wambach back in the lineup.
“You do have a goal scorer and that’s so different than the Olympics," she said. "We created one with Angela Hucles, but now Abby is back, and the tricky part is where she will play and what will her role be? She will get some goals in the World Cup as well. I am absolutely sure about that.”