CAL SOUTH ODP ALUM ALEX MORGAN TAKES U.S. WOMEN PAST ITALY WITH STOPPAGE-TIME GOAL IN WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
November 22, 2010
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center:
November 20, 2010 (PADOVA, Italy) - The U.S. Women's National Team defeated Italy 1-0 in the first match of a two-leg series that will determine the final participant in the 16-team 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
U.S. forward Alex Morgan, the youngest player on the roster at 21-years-old, entered the match in the 86th minute and tallied about halfway through the fourth minute of stoppage time. [Editor's note: Alex Morgan played on the Cal South ODP team beginning in 2004, was chosen for the US Youth Soccer Region IV ODP squad in 2005 and 2006, and played four years as a member of Cypress FC Elite.]
The Americans had attacked with vengeance during the final 25 minutes of the game and finally broke through after Carli Lloyd sent a long pass at the Italian restraining line. Abby Wambach jumped to flick the ball on with her head and right into the path of the speedy Morgan. She raced past a defender into the right side of the penalty box, cut toward goal and smacked a sharp shot past Italian goalkeeper Anna Picarelli from six yards out.
With the victory and the all-important away goal, which counts as double should the two teams be tied on total goals at the end of the two matches, the USA heads back to Chicago with a leg up on advancing to Germany next summer. A victory or tie of any sort would earn the Americans that final berth to Germany. A 1-0 victory for Italy would force two 15-minute overtime periods, followed by penalty kicks if necessary, or a any victory for Italy in which it scores two or more goals would send the Italians to Germany without overtime.
Tickets for USA against Italy at Toyota Park start at $10 and are on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Chicagoland (including Carson Pirie Scott and Walmart stores), and at the Toyota Park ticket office (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Groups of 15 or more can obtain a discount order form at ussoccer.com or call 312-528-1290. Tickets will also be available at the Toyota Park box office starting at 9 a.m. on the day of the game.
The USA put forth its best performance since a victory against Sweden this past summer and out-shot the Italians 19-6 for the match while center backs Christie Rampone and Amy LePeilbet did a fine job of containing Italy's star center forward Patrizia Panico. While the Americans put together some excellent attacking sequences, many of those promising attacks stalled due to a miss-hit final pass, a poor service from the wing, a foul or an offside call.
The USA tested Picarelli just twice in the first half, the first coming only three minutes into the game when Megan Rapinoe tried to sneak a free-kick into the near post off a service from deep near the left end line.
Picarelli, an American from the Los Angeles area who played her college soccer at Pepperdine University, knocked the ball away at the left post. She made a nice reaction save in the 34th minute after a poor Italian clearance off a cross from left wing fell to Amy Rodriguez, but the U.S. forward didn't get a good strike on the bouncing ball and Picarelli batted it away at the near post.
U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart did not have her busiest night, but she was called on to make two huge saves. The first came in the 26th minute when Alessia Tuttino ran onto a second ball that had been headed down by the U.S. back line and pounded a volley from distance that was headed toward the upper left corner. Barnhart stretched to snag the shot on what was Italy's best chance of the first half.
The USA had a golden opportunity just 15 seconds into second half as a ball rolled in front of Lloyd inside the Italian penalty area, but she cuffed her shot wide left.
Italy defended with guts and passion while trying to counter attack through Panico, but the U.S. back four was stellar in their marking and recovery throughout the game. Italy's only other great chance of the game came in the 64th minute after Rampone knocked down a long ball with her head, but it went straight to her Sky Blue FC teammate Panico who smacked a left-footed shot towards the lower right corner. Barnhart made fantastic diving save to push the ball wide.
The USA put together several flurries inside the Italian penalty box in the final 15 minutes, but Picarelli and her backs held strong as the Americans just could not find the net.
In the 78th minute, substitute Lauren Cheney collected a ball with her back to goal after a nice U.S. attack and spun to get off a solid half-volley from inside the penalty area, but Picarelli made a diving snag to her right.
In the 80th minute, the USA had Italy scrambling once again with Picarelli out of position. The ball fell to Rodriguez who chipped a shot toward the unprotected goal, but Carolina Pini retreated to clear the ball off the goal line with hear head.
In the 88th minute, the USA caught the Italians napping on a thrown-in from deep on the right wing. Wambach pulled free from her defender, dribbled toward the near post and fired from a sharp angle, but Picarelli made a great save to knock the ball away.
The most amazing sequence of the match, before the goal, came in stoppage time as the USA had three cracks at the net from inside 12 yards. The first one from Morgan was blocked by an Italian defender. The ball rebounded to Wambach, but her left-footed strike was blocked as well. That rebound rolled to Cheney, whose right-footed shot clanged off the left post.
That set the stage for Morgan's heroics. The young striker, who scored the winning goal in the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup final, now has four goals in just eight career caps. She completed her college career last weekend as California lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The matches against Italy mark the first time the U.S. Women have participated in a playoff to qualify for a FIFA Women's World Cup, having advanced directly from the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in each previous attempt.
Midfielder Lori Lindsey, who did not play in the game, was shown a yellow card on the U.S. bench in the waning moments of regulation time.
The 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen.
U.S. Women's National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Italy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA - Alex Morgan (Abby Wambach) 94+
ITA: 1-Ana Maria Picarelli; 3-Roberta D'Adda, 2-Raffaella Manieri, 6-Laura Neboli, 5-Elisabetta Tona; 7-Giulia Domenichetti, 11-Marta Carissimi (18-Pamela Conti, 93+), 8-Carolina Pini, 4-Alessia Tuttino; 10-Elisa Camporese, 9-Patrizia Panico (Capt.)
Statistical Summary: USA / ITA
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan