Solo & Frimpong Help U.S. Nationals to Tourney Victory
Jan. 22, 2006
GUANGZHOU, China - The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, featuring Washington alums Hope Solo and Tina Frimpong in the starting lineup,put together a magnificent performance in its final match of the 2006 FourNations Tournament to defeat host China 2-0 in front of a raucous crowd of15,000 to win the title. China finished second, France third and Norway fourth.
Solo played a stellar match in goal for the U.S., making five saves andcoming off her line to strongly secure or punch clear at least a half-dozen Chineseservices. In the 29th minute, she denied the Steel Roses' first dangerouschance of the game by diving to her right to knock down a troublesome header fromHan. She then pounced on the loose ball before a Chinese player could get afoot to it. Solo also had to stretch fully to her left in the 81st minute todeny a blistering Chinese drive from distance.
Solo (Richland HS/Richland, Wash.) is a veteran of the international circuit, having earned 19 caps for appearances in goal for the U.S. Nationals. he did not allow during seven international games in 2005, covering a span of 630 minutes.
Solo finished at UW in 2002 as the Huskies' all-time leader in every goalkeeping category. Solo started 68 games, amassing 325 saves, 18 shutouts and a 1.02 goals against average. In each of her final two seasons (2001, 2002), she was one of 15 nominees for the Hermann Trophy that honors the national player of the year.
A four-time all-conference honoree, Solo received the 2001 Pac-10 Player of the Year award. She surrendered only 12 goals in 17 games in 2001 en route to a school single-season record 0.68 goals against average. In 2000, Solo led Washington's to its only Pac-10 women's soccer championship.
Frimpong (Hudson's Bay HS/Vancouver, Wash.) completed her collegiate career in 2004 as Washington's all-time leader in goals (42) and points (97).
From her forward position, she led the Pac-10 in goals as a junior (13) and senior (15) and was named the Conference Player of the Year twice, in 2003 and 2004. Frimpong garnered All-America acclaim in 2003 and 2004.
Frimpong has earned three caps for international appearances with the full national team where she has been converted to a defender.
U.S. captain Kristine Lilly, playing in her 302nd career game, wasmagnificent once again, scoring both U.S. goals in the first half, the first off apenalty kick and the second from an opportunistic and clinical finish.
The match was played in cold conditions, but in an electric atmosphere thatfeatured flag-waving and drum-beating Chinese fans who loudly supported theirteam throughout the entire match. Fans flowed into Guangdong Olympic Stadiumall the way up until halftime.
China needed just a tie to win the tournament, but it was the U.S. team thatwas the aggressor. The USA played its best match of the tournament, a factmade even more impressive as it was the third game in five days for both teams.
'The mentality of this team is to look at any situation like this and juststep out with a determination to win the day, and that's what they did,' saidU.S. head coach Greg Ryan. 'I don't think the crowd affected them, I don'tthink the cold affected them. I could see it in their faces and eyes before thegame started, there was that additional focus and determination to win thisgame today. You don't always get the breaks, but I knew they would do everythingthey needed to do to win it.'
The dynamic and skillful Chinese had their usual spurts of possession thatcreated danger around the U.S. box, but the U.S. defense never let the crowdreally get into the match. China played a 4-4-2 formation with the crafty HanDuan playing high against the U.S. back line, but she could not find a gap likethe ones she had exploited in China's first two matches.
The penalty kick was earned on the USA's first corner kick of the game in the23rd minute as Abby Wambach, after years of being mugged in the penalty boxon set plays, finally got a whistle in her favor. Norwegian referee Ann HeleneOstervold made a gusty call, ruling that Wambach had been obstructed, held andpulled, as Lilly lofted in the service from the right side.
The Chinese players protested vehemently, but that had no effect on Lilly,who coolly stepped up to drive her spot kick into the lower right corner asgoalkeeper Han Wen Xia leaned the wrong way.
The U.S. midfield of Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley and Aly Wagner enjoyed abit more space and time than they did against France in the USA's 0-0 draw, andtook full advantage of it, helping create dangerous chances all match long insupport of the front line of Lilly, Wambach and Christie Welsh.
The USA got the second goal in the 41st minute as Welsh sent a short chipover the Chinese back line from only 25 yards out. Lilly ran onto the service,held off a defender and skillfully lifted the bouncing ball over the onrushingChinese goalkeeper and into the right corner from seven yards out.
The goal stunned the large crowd into silence for several minutes.
With two goals, Lilly pushed her international total to 107 and moved intosole possession of second place on the all-time U.S. goal-scoring list behindMia Hamm (158 goals). The 107 career goals also tie her for second place on theworld's all-time international scoring list for women with Italian legendElisabetta Vignotto.
The U.S. came close to adding to the lead on several occasions in the secondhalf. In the 59th minute, defender Amy LePeilbet drew a roar from the crowdwhen she ran under a falling Chinese clearance and blasted a full volley fromoutside the box. Her shot toward the left side of the net was blocked andmomentarily cleared by a defender. In the ensuing scramble, the ball was played backinto the box where Tarpley got a foot to it, spinning it off the left postfrom 10 yards out.
In the 62nd minute, Wambach got behind the Chinese defense on a counter, butwas run down before she could shoot. Seven minutes later, Wagner had a chanceon a point blank header, but hit it straight into the hands of Han from thetop of the six-yard box.
China pushed hard for a goal in the last 15 as their fans implored them toattack the U.S. net with chants of 'Fight On! Fight On!' but the U.S. defensewould not break. The U.S. back line played a superb game against the deceptiveChinese, particularly the two center backs, LePeilbet and Tina Frimpong. TheUSA was without veteran center backs Cat Reddick and Kate Markgraf for thistournament, so Frimpong, a converted forward, was starting just her third game incentral defense for the USA, all at the Four Nations Tournament. She combinedwith LePeilbet to win nearly every fifty-fifty ball that came up the middle.Heather Mitts had another stellar match at right back while veteran ChristieRampone, playing somewhat out of position at left back (and just 114 days afterhave having a baby), also proved almost unbeatable.
The young defense did not allow a goal from the run of play in the tournamentagainst teams ranked third (Norway), fifth (France) and ninth (China) in theworld, and now has not allowed a goal from the run of play in the last 1,198minutes dating back to the end of 2004. The U.S. team only allowed 18 totalshots over the three games in the tournament, and just 10 on goal.
The win also marked the second tournament championship for Ryan after alsowinning the 2005 Algarve Cup. The U.S. has yet to lose a game under Ryan, whohas compiled a record of 10-0-2 since beginning as head coach in March of 2005.
The U.S. team swept the awards at the 2006 Four Nations Tournament, not onlywinning the championship, but Lilly was also named Best Player and was the TopScorer with three goals. Solo was named Best Goalkeeper and Ryan was namedBest Coach.
This was the fourth time in five trips to the Four Nations Tournament thatthe USA has taken top honors, also winning in 1998, 2003 and 2004. The win alsomarked just the fourth time the USA has defeated China in the 12 matchesbetween the two teams in China.
In the first match of the day, Norway got a late equalizer from MarithaKaufmann to tie France, 1-1. France tied all three of its matches at this year'sFour Nations.The next competition for the U.S. Women's National Team takes place fromMarch 9-15, 2006, at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The groups, match-ups and U.S.roster will be announced in the near future.
Match-up: USA vs. China
Competition: Four Nations Tournament
Venue: Guangdong Olympic Stadium; Guangzhou, China.
Date: January 22, 2006; Kickoff - 4:00 p.m. local / 3:00 a.m. ET
Weather: Cold, hazy - 52 degrees
USA - Kristine Lilly (Penalty Kick) 24th minute.
USA - Kristine Lilly (Christie Welsh) 41.
USA - 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 23-Tina Frimpong, 14-Amy LePeilbet,3-Christie Rampone; 7-Shannon Boxx, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (12-Leslie Osborne, 84),10-Aly Wagner; 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh (9-Heather O'Reilly, 75),13-Kristine Lilly - Capt.
Subs not used: 4-Stephanie Lopez, 8-Carli Lloyd, 11-Angie Woznuk, 17-LoriChalupny 21-Marci Miller, 27-India Trotter, 28-Jenni Branam.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan
CHINA - 1-Han Wen Xia, 2-Wang Kun (16-Liu Ya Li, 46), 3-Li Jie - Capt., 7-BiYan, 8-Zhang Ying (12-Qu Fei Fei, 46), 9-Han Duan, 11-Bai Li Li, 17-Pan Li Na,19-Ma Xioa Xu (23-Guo Yue, 73), 20-Liu Hua Na, 26-Yuan Fan (4-Sun Yong Xia, 84).
Subs not used: 6-Shi Meng Yu, 13-Zhao Xioa Mei, 14-Jin Xiao Mei, 18-Xi DingYing, 28-Zhang Yan Ru.
Head Coach: Ma Liangxing
Shots: USC 14, China 9
Shots on Goal: USA 6, China 5
Saves: USA 5, China 3
Corner Kicks: USA 4, China 5
Fouls: USA 8, China 3
Offside: USA 3, China 0
Misconduct Summary: None
Referee: Ann Helene Ostervold (Norway)
AR 1: Li Hong Juan (China)
AR 2: Deng Jun Xia (China)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Kristine Lilly