• Lauren Cheney and an Own Goal Provide U.S. Goals
• Meghan Schnur Earns First Cap and Sets Up Goal
• USA Continues Group Play Against Norway on Feb. 26 in Olhão Live on MatchTracker at 10 a.m. ET
VILA REAL de SAN ANTONIO, Portugal (Feb. 24, 2010) – The U.S. Women’s National Team scored two goals in two minutes during the second half and U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo saved a penalty kick in both halves during a 2-0 victory against Iceland in its opening match of the 2010 Algarve Cup.
The U.S. women will face Norway in their second Group B contest on Feb. 26 in Olhão (10 a.m. ET on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker) as the USA tries to take another step toward a berth in the Algarve Cup championship game.
Playing in its first international match since the Oct. 29 victory against Germany, the U.S. put together some beautiful attacking sequences, but also looked a bit rusty at times. Before scoring twice, the Americans had certainly been the aggressor through the first two-thirds of the game but were having troubling turning some good rhythm into quality shots. In the first half, the USA took nine shots, including the first shot of the game from Lauren Cheney that clipped the outside of the right post in the fourth minute.
The USA started the second half on a roll, drawing three quick fouls from Iceland and producing two excellent chances early on. In the 48th minute, Cheney got behind the Iceland defense after a poor clearance was nodded on by Abby Wambach. Cheney raced in on goalkeeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir and rounded her to the left, but in doing so cut off her shooting angle. She still managed a shot from close to the end line but it clanged off the left post.
In the 53rd minute, Cheney burst into the penalty area on the left side and spun a hard cross to Wambach who beat the ‘keeper to the ball but somehow sent it over the net from close range.
When the U.S. women met Iceland last year at the Algarve Cup, they had to wait until the 90th minute for a goal by Natasha Kai in a 1-0 victory, but this year the first score came in the 60th.
When the USA finally broke through it came on, of all things, an own goal. But credit goes to left back Meghan Schnur for setting it up. Playing in her first ever full international match for the USA, Schnur created the goal on one of her only runs into the attacking third on the day, but it was a spectacular play. She took on an Iceland defender in the left side of the penalty area, touched it around her to the inside, ran around her to the outside and as the ball was about the roll over the end line, whipped a hard left-footed cross into the goal mouth.
Iceland defender Sif Atladóttir came charging back to her net and tried to clear, but instead got a head on the ball and knocked it just inside her own goalkeeper at the near post and into the net.
After four excellent scoring chances during the match, Cheney finally bagged her goal one minute after Atladóttir’s mistake. Cheney had misfired on two prime chances inside the first five minutes of the game. The first came in the second minute as Wambach slid to slip a pass behind the Iceland defense, but with the ‘keeper charging, Cheney hit her 12-yard shot off the outside of the right post. In the fourth minute, Cat Whitehill hit a long pass on the ground that skipped perfectly to Cheney as she rolled off her defender into the penalty area, but with just the ‘keeper to beat from 10 yards out, she hit her shot from a sharp angle just outside the left post.
Cheney had yet another good chance in the 33rd minute as a bending cross from Wambach on the right wing found her wide-open at the far post, but the young forward couldn’t turn her header on goal. She then hit the post just minutes into the second half.
On her goal, though, she showed some sophisticated finishing technique after substitute Lori Lindsey, who was playing in just her second game for the USA, slipped a pass behind the Iceland defense. Cheney roared toward goal on a breakaway and spun her shot into the right corner of the net from 14 yards out.
At that time, the USA’s two-goal lead with less than 30 minutes left looked secure, but the match had almost taken a turn for the worst in the 12th minute when Whitehill swept the feet of Iceland’s star striker Margret Vidarsdóttir, who had her back to the field near the end line in the right side of the penalty area. German referee Christine Beck did not hesitate in pointing the penalty spot and Vidarsdóttir, Iceland’s top scorer in the Algarve Cup with 10 goals, stepped up to take the kick herself.
She hit it hard, but not that accurately, and Solo dove to her right, stabbing her right hand down to turn the ball away. Amazingly, Solo would have to save another penalty kick before the day was over.
Aside from the penalty, Iceland’s only other dangerous chance of the first half came in the 33rd minute when future Philadelphia Independence midfielder Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir got behind the U.S. defense on an bang-bang counter-attack. With Rachel Buehler almost there to block the shot and Solo in good position, she fired high from 14 yards out.
Vidarsdóttir and Magnúsdóttir were Iceland’s danger women in what was a rough and tumble match that left players from both teams crumpled on the ground on several occasions. Vidarsdóttir left the match in the 63rd minute, but Magnusdottir continued to cause trouble for the USA. She had two shots late in the game that looked dangerous for a moment, but one was easily handled by Solo and the other she cut wide of the goal.
The referee added three minutes of extra time to the end of the second half but the match didn’t end until the 96th minute due to some wild action in the 93rd. Buehler hit a short back pass to Solo that was a bit high and hard and the U.S. ‘keeper, who was positioned near top of the box, collected the ball with a sprinting Iceland forward coming at her. All three players got into a scrum for the ball in the top of the penalty box with players falling over each other. Before it was over, Solo had her right arm stomped on, Buehler was called for tugging the Iceland attacker’s jersey (and shown a yellow card) and Beck called a penalty kick.
It took Solo a few minutes to shake off the effects of the stomping, but after a warning from Beck to get on her line, she took her position and stared down 63rd minute substitute Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdóttir. As the kick was taken, Solo took a step to her right and flew to the post to spectacularly knock the ball down. It looked for a moment like Thorvaldsdóttir would be first to the rebound, but the U.S. defenders converged to clear the ball away.
Solo’s two saves marked the first time in U.S. history that a goalkeeper has saved two penalty kicks in one match.
After one more collision in the penalty area between Wambach and the Iceland ‘keeper, both chasing a long free-kick from Whitehill, the match was whistled over.
The USA centerback pairing of LePeilbet and Buehler once again proved stalwart as the American team defense earned its 16th clean sheet in the last 18 matches.
Both teams stood for a minute of silence before the match to honor the victims of the massive floods on the Portuguese island of Madeira, which is about 1,000 kilometers southwest of the Algarve region.
- U.S. Soccer Match Report -
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Iceland
Date: Feb. 24, 2010
Competition: 2010 Algarve Cup; Group B
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Vila Real de San Antonio, Portugal
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (10 a.m. ET)
Weather: Partly cloudy, breezy – 66 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
ISL 0 0 0
USA – Own Goal (Sif Atladóttir) 60th minute
USA – Lauren Cheney (Lori Lindsey) 61
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 4-Cat Whitehill, 26-Rachel Buehler, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 17-Meghan Schnur (14-Stephanie Cox, 75); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx – Capt. (15-Casey Nogueira, 75), 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Yael Averbuch (5-Lori Lindsey, 58); 11-Lauren Cheney (8-Amy Rodriguez, 66), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 13-Megan Rapinoe, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 24-Jill Loyden.
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
ISL: 12-Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir; 2-Sif Atladóttir, 3-Ólína Gudbjörg Vidarsdóttir, 8-Katrín Jónsdóttir – Capt., 4-Rakel Hönnudóttir, 6-Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir (15-Fanndís Fridriksdóttir, 89), 7-Katrín Ómarsdóttir (18-Elínborg Ingvarsdóttir, 85), 10-Dóra María Lárusdóttir (14-Rakel Logadóttir, 64), 11-Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir (5-Erna Björk Sigurdardóttir, 81), 17-Dagný Brynjarsdóttir (13-Gudný Björk Ódinsdóttir, 73), 9-Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir (16-Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdóttir, 63).
Subs not used: 1-Thóra Helgadóttir, 19-Mist Edvardsdóttir, 20-Thelma Björk Einarsdóttir.
Head Coach: Siggi Eyolfsson
Statistical Summary: USA / ISL
Shots: 17 / 7
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 4 / 3
USA – Cat Whitehill (caution) 29th minute.
USA – Rachel Buehler (caution) 90+3
Referee: Christine Beck (Germany)
Asst. Referee: Marina Wozniak (Germany)
Asst. Referee: Inka Mueller (Germany)
Fourth Official: Fadouma Dia (Senegal)
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