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January 25, 2011
USA blanks China to win Four Nations tourney

Amy Rodriguez scored in the second half of the USA’s 2-0 victory over China on Tuesday.
Amy Rodriguez scored in the second half of the USA’s 2-0 victory over China on Tuesday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHONGQING, China – The U.S. Women’s National Team got goals from Carli Lloyd and Amy Rodriguez to defeat host China PR 2-0 and win the 2011 Four Nations Tournament.

After Canada beat Sweden 1-0 in the first match of the evening, the USA needed just a victory against China to tie Canada on points with six apiece and win the tournament based on its head-to-head win over the Canadians two days ago. Although it did not factor into the final standings, the USA also finished with the best goal differential of any of the four teams at +2. Canada finished second, China third and Sweden, which defeated the USA in the opening game, but then lost two straight, ended in fourth.

“It’s so much more fun to win,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “We took some good things from the loss to Sweden, and that’s one of the reasons we stepped up a little bit against Canada. We took certain things from the 2-1 win against Canada and I think today we ended up controlling the game.”

The USA and China PR combined for just four shots in the first half. Lloyd had both American chances, including her 31st-minute goal. Lloyd played a short left-side free kick to Rodriguez, took the return touch and charged into the penalty area, beating one defender before driving a low shot inside the near post from 16 yards.

China took advantage of a pair of early U.S. turnovers for their first-half chances. Nicole Barnhart, who was named Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament, gobbled up the first attempt, and her defenders scrambled to clear the second threat from deep on the right side.

Rodriguez appeared to double the U.S. lead in the 40th minute, with a short-range shot off another left-sided corner, but the play was whistled dead for a foul. She had better luck in the 67th minute, running on to Tobin Heath’s long pass into the box. China goalkeeper Zhang Yue hesitated off her line, and Rodriguez took advantage by slipping her 14th international goal into the lower left corner from just inside the penalty area.

Overall, the U.S. attack came to life in the second half, taking nine of their 11 shots after the intermission. Lloyd came close to her third goal of the tournament in the 53rd minute, cracking a shot off the bar, and Heath’s follow-up volley was deflected out for a corner kick.

The victory gave the U.S. women their seventh tournament title under Sundhage, dating back to the 2008 Four Nations which were the first games for the USA under the Swede. The USA has now won the Four Nations Tournament in China seven out of eight times it has participated.

The U.S. team will now get a week-long break before heading to Florida and a training camp from Feb. 3-9, after which Sundhage will choose a team for the 2011 Algarve Cup in Portugal.

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