O'Reilly scores to cap U.S. women's record year
DETROIT -- Heather O'Reilly scored the goal. Lindsay Tarpley and Kate Markgraf got most of the applause.
The United States claimed another win in a record-breaking year.
O'Reilly scored off a rebound in the 34th minute, helping the Americans beat China 1-0 Wednesday night at Ford Field. The victory gave the U.S. a mark of 33-1-2 for 2008, extending its record for wins in a calendar year.
The United States won 28 of 34 matches in 2004.
"This has been a great year, with the Olympics and everything else," said U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. "The World Cup didn't go our way in 2007, but we got gold in 2008 and now we've got the new women's league starting in 2009. That's incredibly exciting."
Tarpley and Markgraf, who have combined for more than 300 appearances with the national team, were playing for the first time in their home state and drew constant screams from the crowd of 11,933.
"This was just great," said Tarpley, a native of Kalamazoo. "It was so nice to finally play at home."
Tarpley gave her fans a reason to celebrate in the 34th minute, sending a looping shot off the crossbar that set up O'Reilly's goal.
"I saw the keeper off her line a little, and I thought I could get it over her head," Tarpley said. "I didn't call crossbar, but it worked out pretty well."
The ball rebounded directly to O'Reilly, who knocked it in for her 25th international goal. She also became the sixth U.S. player to have 10 goals and 10 assists in one year.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," O'Reilly said. "Tarp did a great job to get that shot off, and I got the bounce. The double-double is just a stat, but it is still a great feeling to join a club with some great players."
China nearly tied the game before halftime, but Solo deflected Wang Dan Dan's shot and was able to grab the loose ball before it could bounce over the line.
"I knew I had cut down the angle, and I got both hands on the ball, so I felt pretty strong that I was going to be able to get to it," Solo said.
Both teams had good scoring chances in the second half. Zhang Yanru made a diving save of Amy Rodriguez's shot in the 63rd minute, and reserve goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made an easy stop 9 minutes later when Han Duan broke in alone on the U.S goal.
Xu Yuan had China's last chance, but her diving header went wide with 3 minutes left.
It was the first time the U.S. has played a game in Michigan since beating Canada 3-0 in 1993 at the Pontiac Silverdome.
"I think this is the most applause I've gotten in my life," said Markgraf, who grew up in suburban Detroit. "It was a great night."