Author Topic: U.S. women beat China 2-0 to win Four Nations  (Read 991 times)

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U.S. women beat China 2-0 to win Four Nations
« on: January 30, 2007, 09:39:54 PM »
GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — U.S. women's soccer team coach Greg Ryan came to southern China searching for a third striker, and production from his midfielders.
He found both Tuesday in a 2-0 victory over China: goals from midfielder Lori Chalupny and striker Natasha Kai that gave the Americans a record fifth Four Nations tournament title — a warmup for the World Cup in China this fall.

TV directors take note: Chalupny's 20-yard goal during first-half injury time should make some weekly highlight packages.

"She hit a bomb, and just where she wanted it," Ryan said, cradling a bouquet of roses on his right side and clutching the gold trophy in his left hand.

Chalupny — nicknamed "Chalupa" or "Chalups" — stepped up when teammate Lindsay Tarpley stripped a Chinese player of the ball 40 seconds into first-half injury time.

"It kind of just popped up to me and I took a touch on it and shot," said Chalupny. "I just tried to hit it hard and on-frame."

The ball sailed high into the corner, over the left shoulder of startled Chinese goalie Han Wenxia.

Chalupny, who began her U.S. career as a midfielder, was moved to defense for about 25 games. But she's back attacking from midfield — from the right side on Tuesday.

Kai is one of about five forwards Ryan tried in China. All are vying for a starting spot alongside top scorers Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly.

Kai scored in the 56th minute, chipping in a shot off a corner kick.

"Our first two games here we were a little rough, but we stepped it up a notch and the young players all showed they can play," Kai said.

The Americans dominated and managed to contain China's top two scoring threats, Han Duan and Ma Xiaoxu.

The Americans tied Germany 0-0 in their first game, and then tied England 1-1 on a goal by Heather O'Reilly.

Ryan has 7½ months before the Americans return to China for the 16-team World Cup. They've won it twice, but not since 1999 when Brandi Chastain's penalty kick beat China, followed by her famous jersey-twirling celebration.

Ryan has no illusions about his chances with at least six other teams in the mix: Germany, Sweden, Norway, North Korea, China and Brazil.

"You go back to '91, and the winning came fast," Ryan said, speaking of the first U.S. title.

"But each succeeding tournament will be more difficult to win, and this will be the most difficult."

In addition to improving his midfield and forward lines, Ryan also saw his goalkeepers in action: 35-year-old Briana Scurry and 25-year-old contender Hope Solo.

"Our young players are in the process of maturing between now and the World Cup," Ryan said. "We're happy with the progress we've made, but we still have a long way to go."

Assistant Wang Haiming, who filled in during the tournament for ailing Chinese coach Ma Liangyu, said his No. 9-ranked team lacked control at midfield.

"We can see that we are not strong enough in midfield, particularly against a world-class team like the United States," Wang said.

China officials said Ma has heart problems, and they also brought in well-traveled German coach Eckhard Krautzun a week ago as a consultant.

Defending World Cup champion Germany will be the World Cup favorite, but could have problems.

Germany played three 0-0 games in the Four Nations, including a scoreless draw on Tuesday against England. The Germans also lost Silke Rottenberg, perhaps the world's No. 1 keeper, with a knee injury sustained Saturday in practice.

Coach Silvia Neid expects her to be out for six months, leaving little time to recover before the World Cup opener on Sept. 10.

"We said before this trip that the object wasn't to win but to see how our young players performed," Neid said. "But having said that, we had 12 huge chances here and didn't score once."