Sun, Nov 28th 2010, 11:06
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 USA had won the first leg, 1-0, in Padova, Italy on Nov. 20 on a late goal from Alex Morgan.
“(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.”
The only goal of the game at Toyota Park came off the foot of Amy Rodriguez in the 40th minute after a nice build-up down the left wing. 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.
Ken Yon | on 7/12/10