Cheney Helps U.S. to Another Victory over Canada

July 23, 2009

Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Christine Nairn, the youngest player on the U.S. roster at 18-years-old, scored a dramatic winning goal in the 89th minute as the U.S. Women's National Team defeated Canada 1-0 on a humid night at Blackbaud Stadium.

Nairn entered the game in the 81st minute to earn just her second career cap and tallied on a wild scramble in front of the Canadian net. With the U.S. pushing for a winning goal, midfielder Angela Hucles spun a hard cross from the wing to the near post where Abby Wambach jumped high to flick the ball in the air as Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod, her teammate on the WPS' Washington Freedom, plowed into her from behind.

The ball bounced up in the air and back toward the goal where U.S. forward Lauren Cheney kept it alive, jumping over a Canadian defender to head the ball toward the net. McLeod recovered to get a slap at the ball, but Nairn was crashing the goal and knocked it into the net from close range with her hip. It was Cheney's second assist in as many games after also setting up Wambach's 100th career goal in the 1-0 victory against Canada on July 19th in Rochester.

Nairn, who turns 19 on Sept. 25, becomes the youngest player to score for the USA since Heather O'Reilly tallied her first career goal in a 4-0 win against Italy on Oct. 6, 2002, when she was 17 years and 277 days old.

Nairn was a member of the U.S. team that won the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup last fall and is age-eligible for the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany. She enrolled at Penn State in the middle of the last academic term due to her commitment to the U-20s and will play her first college match this August as a freshman.

'I was first of all excited to get in the game, but Cheney did all the hard work and I was just there to make sure it went in the goal,' said Nairn, who debuted for the USA in its 4-0 victory against Canada on May 25. 'I'll take it if I can. If Abby didn't make that run and that touch, and Cheney didn't follow it up, I wouldn't have made it. It's awesome. I can't even explain how I feel right now its awesome to even be on this team and be considered for this team so to put one away like that and win the game is a great feeling.'

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made five changes to the lineup that defeated Canada in Rochester, inserting Heather Mitts at right back and Stephanie Cox at left back, giving Carli Lloyd the start in center midfield and putting Lindsay Tarpley up top with Abby Wambach. Hope Solo got the start in goal and picked up her 44th career shutout.

As they did against the USA three days ago in Rochester, the Canadians sat back in a defense shell and looked to counter-attack, a tactic which found greater success than in the last match.

The USA out-shot Canada 18-8, firing seven shots in the first half, all from Tarpley and Megan Rapinoe. The USA would have taken a lead into halftime if not for two great saves from McLeod, who denied Tarpley from 15 yards straight-away and then tipped a Rapinoe blast over the top. Both Tarpley and Rapinoe exited at halftime as Sundhage sent on 21-year-olds Lauren Cheney and Tobin Heath, both of whom had excellent second-half performances.

Canada produced four very dangerous chances in the second half, the first coming just seconds after the restart as U.S. center back Rachel Buehler saw her pass picked off by Canadian star Christine Sinclair who burst through the U.S. defense and shot low to the left corner. Solo, who wasn't tested much but came up huge when she was, stabbed her right hand to the ground to make a brilliant stop.

A few minutes later Sinclair was off on the counter again and played the ball into the right side of the penalty box for Jonelle Filigno, but with only Solo to beat she launched her shot over the bar. In the 60th minute Sinclair got in behind the U.S. defense again off a nice pass from Diana Matheson only to be stoned by Solo again. Solo also tipped a shot from Christina Julien around the right post in the 87th minute, but the referee missed the touch and the USA awarded a goal kick.

Despite the few dangerous chances on counter attacks, Canada tired in the second half and played more than a few searching balls over the U.S. back line that were run down by Buehler and Amy LePeilbet, both of whom logged excellent performances in the back for the USA for the second straight match. Buehler battled all game with her WPS teammate Sinclair, who failed to score her 100th career goal in the last three matches against the USA and will head back to the FC Gold Pride still sitting on 99 goals.

Sundhage inserted Leslie Osborne into the match in the 62nd minute, giving the midfielder her first cap since recovering from reconstructive ankle and knee surgery in the middle of last year. Osborne played at defensive midfield as Heath moved into the middle, pushing second half sub Hucles wide left and Lloyd wide right. When the left-footed Nairn entered the match, Hucles switched to the right side and sent in the cross which produced the game-winner.

'I think this game was very important because of the way we have been playing and working on the attacking third,' said Sundhage. 'We didn't score that many goals, but we scored a goal. And we gained some confidence by that and we will continue to work on the attack, especially in the attacking third.'

Most of the U.S. players will now head back to their WPS clubs for the stretch run to the playoffs, while the three collegians on the roster - Nairn, Heath (UNC) and Cheney (UCLA) - prepare for their college pre-season camps opening in early August. The U.S. team will come together again until late September for a training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.


USA: 1-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 21-Rachel Buehler, 14-Stephanie Cox; 9-Heather O'Reilly (12-Leslie Osborne, 62), 7-Shannon Boxx (capt.) (16-Angela Hucles, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (11-Christine Nairn, 81), 15-Megan Rapinoe (13-Tobin Heath, 46); 5-Lindsay Tarpley (19-Lauren Cheney, 46), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 4-Cat Whitehill, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

CAN: 18-Erin McLeod; 5-Robyn Gayle (21-Chelsea Stewart, 26), 9-Candace Chapman, 2-Emily Zurrer, 13-Marie-Eve Nault (19-Shannon Woeller, 67); 14-Carmelina Moscato (20-Alyssa Lagonia, 80), 8-Diana Matheson, 4-Kelly Parker (10-Jodi-Ann Robinson, 64), 15-Kara Lang; 16-Jonelle Filigno (11-Christina Julien, 73), 12-Christine Sinclair (capt.)
Subs not used: 1-Karina LeBlanc, 3-Gina Pacheco, 6-Kaylyn Kyle, 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 17-Brittany Timko, 22-Stephanie Labbe, 23-Sansar Bahar, 24-Karli Hedlund
Head Coach: Carolina Morace

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