U.S. WOMEN MAKE 2011 WORLD CUP VIA GOAL FROM CAL SOUTH ODP ALUM AMY RODRIGUEZ
November 27, 2010
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center:
November 27, 2010 (BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois) - The U.S. Women's National Team defeated Italy 1-0 in front of more than 9,000 fans in the second match of a two-leg playoff series to win 2-0 on aggregate and earn the sixteenth and final berth to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The winning goal at Toyota Park came off the foot of Amy Rodriguez in the 40th minute after a nice build-up down the left wing. [Rodriguez is an alumni of the Cal South ODP program and former club player for the Laguna Hills Eclipse - CalSouth.com editor.]
The USA had won the first leg, 1-0, in Padova, Italy on Nov. 20 on a late goal from Alex Morgan [also an alumni of Cal South - ed].
"(After the loss to Mexico in CONCACAF Qualifying), the locker room was disappointed and sad but it didn't take long to be like 'OK, we need to take a different road to the World Cup' and look at it in a positive way," said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. "The last thing I said in pregame today was that the glass is half full. It's been a bumpy road, but we need to enjoy it and it will take us all the way to Germany."
Megan Rapinoe created the scoring opportunity with a brilliant dribbling run, first cutting into the middle before faking a shot and cutting back in the penalty area. She then smacked an angled shot that Italian goalkeeper Anna Picarelli knocked down, but couldn't hold. Rodriguez was first to the rolling ball, sliding bravely to pound it into the roof of the net from six yards.
The Americans weathered a poor first 20 minutes in which several giveaways in the defensive third led to dangerous Italian chances, but as it did during the entire match and two-leg series, the U.S. defense held strong. The USA out-shot Italy 17-5 for the match and if not for several excellent saves from Picarelli, the outcome would have been decided much earlier.
Italy's three best chances of the game came in the eighth, 15th and 33rd minutes, the first coming when Carolini Pini had a wide open shot from 12 yards but struck a weak attempt right at U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. The other chance came off a quickly taken short corner that ended with a cross flashing dangerously in front of the U.S. net, but no Italian could get a piece of the ball.
The final Italian chance of the first half came after a miscommunication between Barnhart and defender Rachel Buehler at the top of the U.S. penalty area. It looked momentarily as if the Italians would have a shot at an open net before American defenders recovered to diffuse the situation.
Rodriguez was dangerous through her speed during the entire match. In the seventh minute she burst behind the defense into the left side of the penalty area but chose to cross instead of shoot and her pass found no takers at the far post. In the 17th minute, she did well to make room for a cross from the left side, but it sailed over Abby Wambach's head.
The USA created several dangerous opportunities on mid-range free kicks against the 5-foot-4 Picarelli, who managed to get a fist on the services, but not enough to clear them out of danger. However, the U.S. team couldn't get to any of the rebounds before the Italians managed to clear.
As the game wore on the 5-foot-11 Wambach started to impose herself on the Italian defenders. She dug out a ball deep in the left corner of the goal box in the 31st minute and crossed to the far post, but Heather O'Reilly got bodied off the play by a defender before she could strike it home.
In stoppage time of the first half, Wambach ran under a long ball and got in on a breakaway. With a defender draped on her back, she fired a left-footed shot from just above the penalty spot, but Picarelli closed the angle well and made the save.
The USA controlled almost the entire second half as Italy managed just one shot in the second 45 minutes and the Americans could have effectively ended the match twice in the first few minutes after the break.
In the 48th minute, Wambach spun off a player at the top of the box and slid to play a square pass to Rapinoe who had an open shot from 16 yards, but she knocked it over the bar and into the stands.
Just seconds later, Wambach pulled off a diving header off a cross from Rodriguez, but it was pushed away spectacularly by the flying Picarelli.
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage sent on Lauren Cheney in the 59th minute, putting her up top and shifting Rodriguez to left midfield. Seconds later Cheney hit the crossbar after latching onto a free ball in the right side of box. Outside back Ali Krieger was the second and last substitute of the match, playing the last 15 minutes in place of Heather Mitts.
Picarelli, an American from the Los Angeles area whose dad is of Italian heritage and who played her college soccer at Pepperdine University, was solid in goal once again, making eight saves to keep the match close.
The matches against Italy marked 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.
With the USA's qualification, the 16-team field for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup is now set. The qualifiers are: host Germany, Korea DPR, Japan and Australia from Asia and Sweden, Norway, France and England from Europe, New Zealand from Oceania, the USA, Canada and Mexico from CONCACAF, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea from Africa and Brazil and Colombia from South America.
The USA will now await the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Final Draw which will take place on Monday, Nov. 29 in Frankfurt, Germany to find out its first round opponents in what will be the sixth Women's World Cup tournament.
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.
Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Italy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA - Amy Rodriguez (Megan Rapinoe) 40th minute
ITA: 1-Ana Maria Picarelli; 2-Sara Gama, 3-Roberta D'Adda (15-Alia Guagni, 46), 4-Alessia Tuttino, 5-Elisabetta Tona, 6-Laura Neboli, 7-Giulia Domenichetti, 8-Carolina Pini (18-Silvia Fuselli, 53), 9-Patrizia Panico (Capt.), 10-Pamela Conti, 11-Elisa Camporese,
Statistical Summary: USA / ITA
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Amy LePeilbet