November 26, 2010
ON THE BRINK
U.S. Women face final WCQ showdown with Italy on Saturday
With a trip to the World Cup in Germany on the line, the U.S. Women’s National Team faces Italy on Saturday at 2:00 pm ET at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
|Abby Wambach and the U.S. WNT have their last chance to win a spot in next year’s Women’s World Cup finals Saturday at Toyota Park.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The two-leg series will be determined on total goals, which means after earning a dramatic 1-0 victory in Padova, Italy, on Nov. 20 with a 94th minute goal from Alex Morgan, the U.S. needs a win or a draw in this match to make the World Cup. A 1-0 victory for Italy would send the match into two 15-minute overtimes followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. A victory by Italy in which it scores more than one goal would send the Italians to Germany.
In the first game of the two game series, Morgan’s stoppage-time tally salvaged a less-than-stellar performance by the U.S.
The U.S. Women have never faced this type of situation before. They have always qualified easily for the World Cup, winning a pair of titles in 1991 and 1999, but none in the last decade as the talent in the rest of the world has seemingly caught up.
The United States cruised through the first round of the qualifying tournament, outscoring their three opponents 18-0 before falling 2-1 to Mexico in the semi-final of CONCACAF qualifying, setting up the two- game series with the Italians.
The U.S. holds a 9-4-1 all-time record against Italy with 27 goals scored and eight against. The USA’s win in Padova was its first-ever victory against Italy on Italian soil after four all-time losses, including the first-ever international match for the U.S. women in 1985.
While the U.S. path to qualification was a five-game, eight-team tournament, Italy played 14 matches to earn fifth place in Europe and a spot in the playoff against CONCACAF’s third-place team. Italy’s qualifying included a group stage against Finland, Portugal, Slovenia and Armenia that resulted in seven wins and one draw while outscoring opponents 38-3.
After falling to France 3-2 in a two-game aggregate playoff in September, Italy got past Ukraine 3-0 and Switzerland 5-2 on aggregate in October in subsequent two-game series.