January 23, 2011

US, China Post Victories at Four Nations Tournament

United States 2, Canada 1

The USWNT edged Canada 2-1 in the first match between the two teams in a year and a half on a cold evening in China. Lindsay Tarpley scored the game winning goal in the 70th minute, her first goal since May, 2009, before her ACL injury.

Coach Pia Sundhage made several changes to her lineup. Only Christie Rampone repeated as a defensive starter as Sundhage inserted Brittany Taylor, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Stephanie Cox into the lineup. In the midfield, she started Lori Lindsey and Kelley O'Hara instead of Shannon Boxx and Heather O'Reilly. And Alex Morgan got a rare start instead of Lauren Cheney.

Meanwhile, Canadian coach Carolina Morace made only two changes to her starters. Karina LeBlanc started in goal instead of Erin McLeod. Sophie Schmidt got the start over Carmelina Moscato.

The 1st half was fairly uneventful, with the game being scoreless at the intermission. The only first half substitution was Tarpley on for Megan Rapinoe.

The US started pressuring Canada in the 2nd half and it led to two early chances. In the 50th minute, an Alex Morgan shot was tipped by LeBlanc off the crossbar with the ball landing on the line, but not crossing. Shortly afterward, O'Hara hit the post with a shot.

The US broke through in the 54th minute, with Lindsay Tarpley setting up Lauren Cheney to make it 1-0.

But for the second time in two games, the US couldn't hold the lead. Canada answered on a breakaway goal by Melissa Tancredi to tie it at one in the 56th minute, with Kaylyn Kyle getting the assist.

The United States took the lead for good in the 70th minute as Cheney returned the favor by setting up Tarpley for the game winning goal.

Christine Sinclair nearly tied the game in the 90th minute, but US goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was able to make the save and preserve the victory.

The tournament's four teams are now all even with a win and a loss, and in goal differential. Canada and China are now ahead in the standings based on four goals scored to three total for the United States and Sweden. Canada will face Sweden on Tuesday, while the US will take on China in the tournament's final match.

China 2, Sweden 1

China posted a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Sweden on Sunday.

Like the US, Sweden's coach Thomas Dennerby made several changes in his lineup. Kristin Hammerström started in place of Hedvig Lindahl in goal. Johanna Frisk, Linda Sembrant and Sara Larsson were starters on the back line. Marie Hammerström, Johanna Almgren, and Madelaine Edlund were also new starters for Dennerby.

Sweden struck first on a goal by Josefine Öqvist in the 16th minute. Almgren put in the hard work on the goal, winning the ball, then dribbling around a defender, before touching the ball to the middle where Öqvist finished.

China scored the tying goal in the 35th minute off of a free kick from the right side. While attempting to clear, the ball was headed by a Swedish defender from about 12 yards out into her own goal. You Jia scored the game winner in the 61st minute on yet another free kick, this one from the left side. The ball flicked on to You who was able to finish from six yards out. It was her third goal of the tournament.

Three of the four matches in this tournament have seen the team scoring the first goal losing their matches in the end.

Note: Information for the above stories was taken from the websites from the USWNT, Canadian National Team, and Swedish National Team.