Lilly scores twice in rout of Mexico

April 14, 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Kristine Lilly scored two second-half goals to help the United States beat Mexico 5-0 on Saturday in the first of eight tuneup matches before the World Cup in China in September.

Lilly, the U.S. captain who grew up in nearby Connecticut, lofted a left-footed shot from about 30 yards over the head of goalie Sophia Perez in the 50th minute. Also, she used her right foot to send in a cross from Abby Wambach 20 minutes later.

"It was nice to sneak a couple in," Lilly said, adding that she knew her first goal would find the net as soon as she touched it. "I hit it great. It's one of those times when you hit it -- you're like OK, it's in, you don't even have to look. It was a good feeling."

Wambach opened the scoring in the 10th minute, taking a feed from fellow striker Lindsay Tarpley and putting a right-footed shot past Perez. Tarpley made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute when she put home a rebound of her own shot.

"I thought Abby and Lilly and Tarpley up front played some of the best soccer off of one another that I've seen from us for awhile, in terms of understanding where each player was," U.S. coach Greg Ryan said.

After Wambach's goal, the Mexicans fought back to produce two scoring chances. In the 17th minute, star striker Maribel Dominguez's shot from the top of the box was saved by Hope Solo. Three minutes later, Solo dove to her left to push a Monica Ocampo shot wide.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, are playing a domestic schedule through the summer in preparation for the 16-team World Cup. They play Canada on May 12 in Frisco, Texas. They will play China and Brazil in June. The World Cup starts Sept. 10.

Lauren Cheney, who replaced Lilly in the 82nd minute, finished off the scoring six minutes later. It was her first international goal in her second appearance.

Lilly, a 35-year-old who played for the Boston Breakers in the Women's United Soccer Association, has 121 international goals.

"She's always been one of my favorites,'' said Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar, adding that Lilly's contributions haven't always been recognized "because she was in the shadow of Mia Hamm."

After Lilly's first goal, "we just ran out of gas," Cuellar said. "The first half we showed some ideas. We were in the game."

Wambach, 28, said that she idolized Lilly as a teenager, and had a picture of Lilly on her wall.

"Kristine has been the tradition maker. This is her 20th year playing," said Wambach, who has 69 goals in 89 international games. "She's 72 years old and still scoring more goals than me. She makes my job easy. She makes it fun. At halftime I said let's get you a goal, and she got two."

Mexico has never beaten or even tied the United States in 19 games, and recently failed to qualify for the World Cup.

The U.S. team hasn't lost a match in regulation time in 39 games. A penalty kick loss to Germany in the 2006 Algarve Cup officially counted as a tie.

Saturday's friendly preceded the New England Revolution's home opener against Toronto FC.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press