GUANGZHOU, China (Tuesday, January 30, 2007) -- Midfielder Lori Chalupny and striker Natasha Kai recorded unassisted goals on either side of intermission to give the United States a 2-0 decision over China and its record fifth Four Nations Tournament championship before 8,000 at Guangdong Olympic Stadium this afternoon.
With Germany (0-0-3, 3 points) and England (0-1-2, 2) playing a 0-0 draw in the first match today, the U.S. (1-0-2, 5) knew it needed to defeat China to claim the crown. If China (1-1-1, 4) had won or tied, it would have won the title.
"Today, we felt we could really come out and just go after China, pressure them in their half, go forward and create chances," said U.S. coach Greg Ryan, who is 27-0-7 since taking over the team. "It's great for us to end the tournament on this note. They take a lot of confidence away from this, but even in the games that don't go your way this is a very important process."
The Americans captured the Four Nations Tournament for the fifth time in six visits. Prevailing in this event was even more impressive considering the U.S. was without five presumed starters -- strikers Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, midfielder Aly Wagner and defender Christie Rampone, who were left home to rest, and midfielder Shannon Boxx, who is still recovering from surgery to repair the right anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament she tore July 17.
Chalupny capped the first half with a goal in stoppage time, providing a 1-0 advantage after a period in which the U.S. dominated, applied continuous pressure and posted a 9-1 edge in shots. Forward Lindsay Tarpley started the sequence by winning a 50-50 ball in the American attacking third
Tarpley's pressure forced a Chinese defender to toe-poke the ball right into the path of Chalupny, who was steaming to goal. She touched to her right to elude a defender and drove the ball into the top right corner of the net past diving goalkeeper Han Wenxia from 26 yards in the first minute of added time.
"It felt good right when it came off my foot," she said. "I got a good touch on it right around the defender and just saw a seam to take a shot. I just tried to hit it hard and on frame. When it hits the back of the net, it's just such a rush."
It was the third international goal Chalupny, who played on the right side of midfield in a 3-4-3, which is an unusual formation for the Americans.
"I liked the 3-4-3. I thought it was great having wide midfielders to slip balls to and it helped relieve the pressure of us going down the middle," midfielder Carli Lloyd said. "I thought Leslie (Osborne) and I worked well together (in the middle). She dropped when I went up and I dropped when she attacked. Overall, I just thought it was exciting to come out in a different formation and really press and attack them."
The U.S. increased its lead to 2-0 in the 56th minute after Han made a spectacular leaping save on midfielder Carli Lloyd's hard shot from 25 yards, just tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Striker Heather O'Reilly sent the ensuing left-side corner kick to the far post where Lloyd trapped it with her chest and then volleyed the ball before it hit the ground. The shot from 14 yards out caught a defender in the chest, leaving the ball for Kai to quickly poke into the right corner of the net from eight yards.
Kai, who started, has seven goals in her 20 international appearance, most coming in relief. Lloyd and her central midfield partner Osborne caused the Chinese headaches throughout the match.
Except for two dangerous Chinese counterattacks and a brief offensive surge about 20 minutes into the game, the U.S. pinned its hosts into their defensive half for most of the first 45 minutes. China took five shots after the break, but all were from distance and most came after the game was well in hand.
"I'm happy with what we did," Ryan said, "I still think our young players are in the process of maturing. This is a process that will go on between now and the World Cup (in China in September) and we have to take them as far as we can. . . We're happy with the progress we made during this tournament, but we still have a long way to go."
Notes: U.S. defender Tina Frimpong started, but was forced to leave the game in the 38th minute after taking a shot to the head in a crowd in the U.S. box.
Defender India Trotter earned her second career cap, coming on for Kate Markgraf in the 62nd minute. Trotter played just one minute in the 2006 Four Nations Tournament, so this afternoon's 28 minutes constituted her first real action. After the 21-year old came on, the U.S. moved to a 4-5-1 formation for the remainder of the match.
Four of the six matches in this tournament ended up tied. Only six cumulative goals were scored with the U.S. accounting for half. Germany, the No. 1 team (the Americans are second) in the world according to the rankings of world governing body FIFA, played three scoreless draws in the event and suffered a major blow Sunday when veteran starting goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg tore her anterior cruciate ligament against China.
The Americans get a two-week break before assembling in mid-February to prepare for the Algarve Cup March 7-14 in southern Portugal.
United States 2, China 0
Lineups: China Han Wenxia, Li Ji, Weng Xinzhi, Pu Wei, Zhang Ying (Li DongLing 78), Zhou Gaoping (Liu Huana 46), Yue Min (Bi Yan 58), Zhang Tong, Lou Xiaoxu (Ma Xiaoxu 62), Liu Sa, Han Duan. United States - Hope Solo, Kate Markgraf - captain (India Trotter 62), Heather Mitts, Tina Frimpong (Catherine Whitehill 38), Lori Chalupny, Leslie Osborne, Carli Lloyd (Yael Averbuch 71), Stephanie Lopez, Lindsay Tarpley (Joanna Lohman 77), Natasha Kai, Heather O'Reilly (Angela Hucles 81).
United States - Chalupny (unassisted) 46+.
United States - Kai (unassisted) 56.
Shots: China 7, United States 13.
Shots on goal: China 5, United States 6.
Saves: China 5, United States 4.
Corner kicks: China 1, United States 5.
Fouls: China 13, United States 9.
Offside: China 1, United States 3.
Yellow card cautions: Zhang 51, Liu 67.
Referee: Amy Rayner (England).
Assistant referees: Liu Hongjuan (China), Hu An Qi (China).
Fourth official: Qu Xiaoguang (China).
Attendance: 8,000 at Guangdong Olympic Stadium in Guangzhou, China.
Weather: Hazy, cool, 58 degrees.
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