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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

October 6, 2010
DEFENDING THE HOME TURF
U.S. Women come back to tie China

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Alex Morgan celebrates her first international goal.
Alex Morgan celebrates her first international goal.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHESTER, Pa---The last time the United States Women’s National Team lost on home soil was in Philadelphia six years ago. The U.S. narrowly avoided a repeat of that result Wednesday night, coming from behind to tie the People’s Republic of China 1-1 in front of 2,505 at PPL Park.

China unexpectedly took the lead in the 37th minute. After a turnover in midfield, Zhou Gaoping controlled the ball down the left side. She sent a cross into the penalty area, where Ma Jun volleyed her shot past U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.

The United States got a spark and a goal from second half substitute Alex Morgan, who is the only college player on the team. Heather Mitts sent a long ball from the right side to Abby Wambach near the top of the area. Wambach touched the ball into Morgan’s path, and she ripped a shot into the left side of the net for the 83rd minute equalizer.

The goal was Morgan’s first as a member of the full National Team. She was the second-leading scorer in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile in 2008. Morgan, who attends the University of California, is the only player on the U.S. team still in college.

“Yael Averbuch and Alex Morgan changed the game very much,” said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. “Its good to have two teams. We started with 28 players and we’re now down to 24, going to qualification, we’ll be down to 21.”

Sundhage, who spent much of the summer traveling to Women’s Pro Soccer games across the country, has only had two games to prepare the team for upcoming Women’s World Cup Qualifying, which takes place in Mexico from October 28-November 8.

“I think we got some good answers today. If you look at the first half, we couldn’t connect and China made us look not so good. We struggled a little bit, and even (went) a goal down. The attitude coming back late in the game and having players coming off the bench and change the game like Yale Averbuch and Alex Morgan. This was a big goal. We did that a lot of times in 2008 and we do it again. As long can do that coming back, this is a strong team.”

China almost took a two goal lead in the 52nd minute, when second-half sub Xu Yuan broke in on goal. U.S. defender Amy LePeilbet tracked back and stripped the ball from her near the penalty area. Sun Ling got the clearance and fired a shot wide into the left side netting.

Forward Amy Rodriguez, who had a stellar year for the Philadelphia Independence, had several scoring chances. In first half stoppage time, she fired a 20-yard shot that went high, and in the 51st minute, she got a nice ball in the penalty area and sent a point blank shot directly at China goalkeeper Zhang Yue.

The U.S. had three other good opportunities in the first half. Carli Lloyd, who grew up just across the river in Delran, NJ, fired a 35-yarder in the second minute that went just wide.

Heather O’Reilly found Wambach with a cross in the 21st minute, but the U.S. forward’s downward header was cleared by a defender before crossing the goal line.

China’s best chance in the half was in the 18th minute, when a ball over the top of the defense found Wang Yihang. She broke in on Barnhart, but chipped her shot over the net.

In the 57th minute. Lloyd controlled the ball on the right side, cut to the top of the penalty area and sent a cross into the area that Wambach nodded wide to the right.

Lloyd cracked a 20-yard free kick in the 67th minute that was deflected out, and seven minutes later she sent a 24-yard attempt wide left.

Kristine Lilly, who came into the game at halftime for her 349th international appearance, put on a brilliant individual display in the 77th minute, controlling a ball out of the midfield on the left side line. Lilly dribbled in, beat a Chinese defender, turned and sent a cross through traffic to Morgan, who came into the match in the 71st minute. Morgan controlled the ball at the top corner of the area, turned and fired a shot that Zhang pushed out of bounds.


CHINA
Zhang Yue (Zhang Yanru 46), Liu Huana, Wneg Xinzhi (You Jia 90), Li Danyang, Zhou, Gaoping,Zhang Na, Sun Ling (Pang Fengyue 81), Qu Shanshan (Sun Lisha 63), Gu Yasha (Yu Fan 46) Wang Yihang (Xu Yuan 46), Ma Jun

USA—Nicole Barnhart, Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Christe Rampone, Rachel Buehler (Lauren Cheney 87), Heather O’Reilly (Lindsay Tarpley 46), Shannon Boxx (Yael Averbuch 71), Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe (Kristine Lilly 46), Amy Rodriguez (Alex Morgan 71), Abby Wambach
   
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