Rodriguez gives US 1-0 victory, spot at World Cup
The United States is on its way to the Women’s World Cup after
beating Italy 1-0 Saturday on a first-half goal by Amy
The Americans won the playoff series 2-0 on aggregate to earn
the last spot in the 16-nation World Cup, which will be played June
26 to July 17 in Germany. The draw is Monday in Frankfurt.
”Obviously this was a little different road than we had
expected,” forward Abby Wambach told the crowd after the final
whistle. ”But this team has resilience. We never gave up. We never
lost belief in ourselves.”
The top-ranked Americans were in danger of missing the
tournament they’ve won twice after a stunning upset loss to Mexico
in the semifinals of regional qualifying. It was just their second
loss since the 2007 World Cup, and first since the opening game of
the Beijing Olympics, which the Americans went on to win.
”I think the country always thinks, ‘Oh, the U.S. always goes,
they’re so good,”’ Julie Foudy, part of the pioneering squad that
won the 1991 and 1999 World Cups, said before the game. ”When we
stumble, they don’t realize the rest of the world is getting much
Forced to beat Costa Rica in the regional third-place game and
given a second chance with a playoff against the Azzurre, Europe’s
fifth-place team, the Americans – just barely – showed why they
have been at the top of the game for two decades now.
When the final whistle sounded, several players raised their
arms in triumph while the crowd of 9,508 roared.
Carrying a 1-0 aggregate lead after last weekend’s victory in
Padova, Italy, and needing only a draw to advance, the Americans
took a few minutes to settle in. Or maybe thaw out, with the
gametime temperature 33 F (1 C) and the wind making it feel more
Their disorganization nearly got caught up with the Americans
when Patrizio Panico was left unmarked at the edge of the 6-yard
box. But Nicole Barnhart made the save easily and the U.S. finally
found its groove, dominating possession and peppering Italian
goalkeeper Anna Maria Picarelli – who grew up in Southern
California – with a half-dozen chances.
Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe both missed empty-netters, and
Rapinoe skied another shot over the goal before the two combined
for a score in the 40th minute. Rapinoe worked her way around two
defenders before taking a left-footed angled shot. Picarelli
blocked the shot, but the ball bounced right to Rodriguez, who
poked it into the net from 6 yards out.
”I saw a scramble. I just went for it,” Rodriguez said. ”I
think it’s definitely made us stronger. I know that sounds
The score could have been more lopsided, with Lauren Cheney
hitting the crossbar in the 60th minute.
Italy coach Pietro Ghedin had given his team a ”10 percent
chance” of beating the United States before the playoff series
began – the U.S. has won 10 of their last 12 meetings – and the
Azzurre were further hampered by the loss of striker Melania
Gabbiadini. Gabbiadini, who has 22 goals in 71 appearances for
Italy, including six during European qualifying, missed both games
with a twisted ankle.