U.S. women down China, win Four Nations Cup
GUANGZHOU, China -- Lori Chalupny and Natasha Kai scored and the United States beat China 2-0 Tuesday to win the Four Nations women's soccer tournament in southern China.
It was the United States' record fifth Four Nations title. The U.S. drew two games -- 1-1 against England and 0-0 vs. Germany -- before beating China.
In the first game Tuesday, Germany and England drew 0-0.
Chalupny's first-half goal was spectacular, a soaring shot from about 20 yards away during first-half injury time that sailed over the left shoulder of China goalkeeper Han Wenxia. It was a perfect birthday present for Chalupny, who turned 23 on Monday.
Kai made it 2-0 in the 56th, a goal that came off a corner kick.
"Today we felt like we could come out and just go after China," American coach Greg Ryan said. "We pressured them in their half.
"It's great to win the tournament on this note," he added. "We can take a lot of confidence from it." The four-team tournament is a warmup for the World Cup in China in 7½ months, and top-ranked Germany and the No. 2 Americans brought weakened teams with several probable starters resting at home. The Americans dominated most of the play against China, with Chalupny and Kai also missing first-half chances. The Americans managed to contain China's top two scoring threats, Han Duan and Ma Xiaoxu. Ninth-ranked China and the United States have a long rivalry stretching to the 1999 World Cup championship game, which the Americans won on penalty kicks.
The Americans are unbeaten in their last seven games against China and hold a wide edge in the series.
U.S. coach Greg Ryan came to China looking for a third striker -- top scorers Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly were left at home -- and scoring punch from midfield.
He may have found both.
The victory also kept Ryan's unbeaten string alive. He is unbeaten in 34 games when the match has been decided in regulation time since taking over almost two years ago. The only blemish was a penalty shootout loss to Germany last year.
China coach Ma Liangyu missed the Four Nations tournament, suffering with what Chinese team officials said is a heart problem. His assistant, Wang Haiming, coached all three games.
"We can see that we are not strong enough in midfield, particularly against a world-class team like the United States," Wang said.
In three games in southern China, defending World Cup champion Germany failed to score -- or yield a goal -- with other 0-0 games against China and the United States.
No. 12 England drew 1-1 with the U.S. and lost 2-0 to China.
"We said before this trip that the object wasn't to win but to see how our young players performed," Germany coach Silvia Neid said. "But having said that, we had 12 huge chances here and didn't score once."
Among others, Germany played in China without striker Birgit Prinz, a three-time FIFA world player of the year and the hub of Germany's offense.
No. 12 England's speed troubled Germany with Karen Carney, Fara Williams, Eniola Aluko, Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey often swarming the net.
"This gives us more confidence to draw with the best team in the world," England coach Hope Powell said.
Germany was without Silke Rottenberg, one of the world's best goalkeepers. She suffered a knee injury in China on Saturday. Germany officials said she tore ligaments in her left knee and Neid said she expects her to be out for six months.