The Americans played in a different formation than the Women’s World Cup, lining up in a 4-2-3-1, with Carli Lloyd, Lauren Cheney and Megan Rapinoe in the center midfield. Heather O’Reilly was in her usual position at right midfield, with Amy Rodriguez at left midfield and Abby Wambach as the lone striker.
The back four was the same as fans saw in Germany with Christie Rampone and Rachel Buehler in the middle and Ali Krieger and Amy LePeilbet as outside backs. Hope Solo got the start in goal in her first game action since the World Cup after not playing any club matches following the tournament.
The U.S. team looked a bit rusty against the pressuring Canadians, who were playing their first match under new head coach John Herdman. While the Americans showed some flashes of attacking dynamism, the U.S. gave away numerous balls in the midfield and attacking third while the Canadians put together some quality ball possession, even though they struggled to create dangerous chances.
“I think we played our best soccer in the (World Cup) final, but now they are coming back from a break,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “They weren’t sharp and we tried to tweak the system a little bit while keeping a possession style. There will be a lot of practices if we (are going to be successful) in changing the system a little bit or maybe we’ll go back to 4-4-2. We know that we can play a 4-4-2. It will be very interesting the next few months.”
The penalty kick call came after Lloyd struck a long weak-side pass to O’Reilly down the right wing. The U.S. flank midfielder blew by Lauren Sesselmann and cut towards goal before firing a shot from close range at Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who knocked it down but couldn’t hold it. Wambach followed the rebound and her shot was blocked by the sliding Emily Zurrer. The ball rolled up the body of the Canadian defender and hit her right arm which caused referee Margaret Domka to point to the spot.
Wambach stepped up and rolled her shot into the left corner for her 123rd career international goal, just seven behind legend Kristine Lilly (130) and Mia Hamm (158) on the all-time U.S. goal scorer list. After scoring in the final four matches of the Women’s World Cup, Wambach has now scored in five consecutive matches.
The USA almost doubled its lead in the 13th minute off a great overlap from Krieger down the right wing that led to a cross into that middle for the crashing Wambach who spun just her right-footed shot just over the goal.
Tancredi was by far the most dangerous player for Canada on the night and in the 20th minute she forced Solo to dive to her right to snag a skipping shot.
She would tie the game just before halftime off a nice pass from Kelly Parker that slipped behind the U.S. defense. Tancredi did well to hold her run and then latched onto the ball into the right side of the penalty area. Rampone arrived just a step to late and the big forward cut a perfect shot across the goal and inside the left post past the diving Solo.
It was Tancredi’s third career goal against the USA as she also scored in a 2-1 U.S. win at the Four Nations Tournament in China this past January and in a 1-1 tie in the championship game of the 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament in Mexico that the USA eventually won on penalty kicks.
Cheney almost gave the U.S. the lead heading into halftime, striking a blistering drive in the 45th minute that just curled outside the upper left corner after Wambach had done well to dummy a square pass into her path.
Young U.S. forward Alex Morgan entered the match in the 57th minute for Wambach and had the best U.S. chances to win the game. In the 60th minute, she made a great run to get free and Tobin Heath slipped her a ball inside the penalty box, but Morgan clipped her chance off her ankle and right to McLeod.
In the 70th minute, Morgan won a bouncing ball off a Rampone free kick that had skipped off the head of Cheney and into the box. Morgan brought the ball down well off her chest but once again could not get any pace on her shot and it went straight to McLeod.
Canada had a chance to steal the match in the waning seconds, but Sesselmann skied a close range chance over the goal after a bad U.S. give-away in the back.
Sundhage also gave time to Nicole Barnhart, who played the second half in goal in place of Hope Solo, and made one save, as well as defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who played well in place of Rachel Buehler.
The U.S. and Canada will complete this two-game “Celebration Series” on Thursday, Sept. 22 at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Ore. in front of another large crowd. The match will kick off at 8 p.m. PT and will be shown live on ESPN2.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: Sept. 17, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Weather: 63 degrees; Cool and hazy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
CAN 1 0 1
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty kick) 10th minute
CAN – Melisssa Tancredi (Kelly Parker) 42
USA: 1-Hope Solo (18-Nicole Barnhart, 46); 11-Ali Krieger, 19-Rachel Buehler (4-Becky Sauerbrunn,
46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Amy LePeilbet; 9-Heather O’Reilly, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney, 15-Megan Rapinoe (17-Tobin Heath, 46), 8-Amy Rodriguez; 20-Abby Wambach (13-Alex Morgan, 57)
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 14-Stephanie Cox, 16-Lori Lindsey, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
CAN: 18-Erin McLeod; 7-Rhian Wilkinson (5-Robyn Gayle, 76), 2-Emily Zurrer, 4-Carmelina Moscato, 16-Lauren Sesselmann; 6-Kaylyn Kyle (11-Desiree Scott, 69), 8-Diana Matheson, 13-Sophie Schmidt; 10-Christina Julien (19-Chelsea Stewart, 68), 14-Melissa Tancredi (3-Melanie Booth, 76), 15-Kelly Parker (12-Jaclyn Sawicki, 90)
Subs not used: 9-Tina Romagnuolo, 17-Lexi Marton, 22-Justine Bernier, 21-Stephanie Labbé, 1-Karina LeBlanc, 20-Diamond Simpson,
Head coach: John Herdman
Statistical Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 16 / 10
Shots on Goal: 8 / 6
Saves: 5 / 7
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 0 / 4
CAN — Diana Matheson (caution) 18th minute
CAN — Kaylyn Kyle (caution) 64
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Heather O’Reilly
Photos: Peter Aiken/Getty Images North America