October 2, 2010
JUST PEACHY IN GEORGIA
O’Reilly, Rapinoe lead USWNT
KENNESAW, Ga. –Heather O’Reilly scored the game winning goal and assisted on a tally by Megan Rapinoe as the United States Women’s National Team opened its two game series against China with a 2-1 win at Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium Saturday night.
|Heather O’Reilly had a goal and an assist to lead the U.S. Women to a 2-1 win over China
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Rapinoe gave the United States the lead in the 21st minute when China’s goalkeeper Huang Luna came out of the penalty are to clear with her feet while under pressure from Lauren Cheney. The ball spun out to the right to O’Reilly who sent a low, driven cross back into the box. Huang came out hard and got a hand to the ball, but it ricocheted to the top of the penalty area. Rapinoe had an open goal and struck her first-time shot low and hard straight into the net.
China tied the game in the 33rd minute during a sequence that produced its first two shots of the game. Wang Yihang managed to burst behind the U.S. defense, but goalkeeper Jill Loyden made a great save, throwing her body to block the breakaway chance. The ball rebound straight back to Qu Shanshan and she volleyed a dipping shot into the upper left corner from the top of the penalty area
The USA wasted little time in taking back the lead. In the 37th minute, Rapinoe sent a ball over the back line to Abby Wambach into the left side of the penalty area. Wambach struck a hard cross on the ground to the far post where O’Reilly was crashing. Her first attempt from close range hit the right post. The ball bounced back and hit her in the chest before she managed to stuff it home from just inches off the goal line.
The United States dominated the match territorially and out-shot the Chinese 20-6 for the game, but couldn’t get a consistent attacking rhythm going and some sub-par finishing kept the contest close.
Cheney almost scored twice on headers in the first five minutes with the first pushed away by Huang and the second crashing off the right post. Right back Ali Krieger almost saw her cross dip under the crossbar as well, only to be tipped away by the six-foot Chinese ‘keeper.
Rapinoe stripped a Chinese back in the 13th minute and had an open shot from the top of the box. She tried to spin it into the upper right corner but Huang punched it away. On the ensuing corner kick, Shannon Boxx got a solid head on the ball, but somehow bounced it off the ground and over the goal.
The match marked the first career cap for the 25-year-old Loyden, who played well while making two saves.
The USA pounded away at China in the second half as both teams made multiple changes. Rapinoe almost had her second goal just two minutes after the break as a nifty dribble got her a one-on-one chance, but she tried to score near post and Huang kicked it away for a corner kick.
In the 56th minute, Rapinoe again got free on a dribble in the left side of the box and cut a pass back to Amy Rodriguez, who had only been in the game for about 15 seconds. Rodriguez couldn’t get a clean strike on the ball and it spun to O’Reilly, with the ball bouncing off her and into the arms of the goalkeeper.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was playing her first match back since breaking her ankle at the beginning of the WPS season, had a golden chance to score off a header in the 61st minute, but Stephanie Cox’s cross spun off her head and just wide left.
China’s two best chances to equalize came in the 64th minute after Ma Jun got under a lopping cross from the left side, but struck her volley just wide left of the goal from 10 yards out, and then in the final seconds of stoppage time when a well-struck shot flashed just past Loyden’s right post..
Rodriguez had another good look in the 63rd minute as substitute Kristine Lilly penetrated down the left wing and slipped a pass to Wambach inside the penalty area. Her cross on the ground was right to Rodriguez, but she again let the ball spin off her right foot and wide right of the goal.
Lilly’s appearance marked her 348th career cap as she continues to extend her world record for international appearances.
The match also marked the first start for U.S. captain Christie Rampone since July 25, 2009, after which she took time off to have her second daughter, who was born in March of this year.
The two teams will meet again on Wednesday Oct. 6 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. at 7 p.m. ET
USA: Jill Loyden, Ali Krieger, Amy LePeilbet, Christie Rampone, Rachel Buehler (Stephanie Cox, 46), Heather O’Reilly (Kristine Lilly, 62), Shannon Boxx (Lori Lindsey, 46), Carli Lloyd (Yael Averbuch, 62), MeganRapinoe, Lauren Cheney (Amy Rodriguez, 56), Abby Wambach
CHN: Huang Luna, Yu Fan, Weng Xinzhi (Li Danyang, 46), Zhou Gaoping, Zhang Nan, Xu Wenjia (Pang Fengyue, 46), Sun Lisha (Zhang Na, 82), Qu Shanshan, Gu Yasha (Sun Ling, 61), Wang Yihang (Xu Yuan, 53), You Jia (Ma Jun, 46)