Another U.S. Victory!
Women’s team now on to semifinal match against Brazil on Sunday
English midfielder Kelly Smith moves the ball against USA's Leslie Osborne during the 2007 Women's World Cup 2007 quarterfinals. (Photo: ©Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/NewsCom)
She just doesn’t know how to lose. Since joining the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2004, midfielder Leslie Osborne has been played in 45 games. She was in her 40th win on Saturday night in a 3-0 quarterfinal triumph over England in the Women’s World Cup in China.
With the Brookfield, Wisconsin, native in the lineup, the American women are a sterling 40-1-4 this year. Making her second start of the tournament as a defensive midfielder, Osborne shut down England’s main threat, former Seton Hall standout Kelly Smith.
That came only days after the 24-year-old Osborne was called upon to stifle Swedish star Victoria Svensson in an opening-round match. She accomplished that and more in her team’s 2-0 victory against Sweden.
Osborne and the Americans will meet Brazil in the semifinals on Sunday. You can watch the match on ESPN2 at 8 a.m. ET.
“Leslie had a fantastic game, both defensively and helping us possess and win balls in the air," U.S. coach Greg Ryan said. "We play a zone in the midfield, but today we changed that a little bit and had her follow England’s Kelly Smith when Kelly was in positions where she could receive the ball."
Smith attempted only one shot.
"Leslie did a great job of keeping Kelly as quiet as you can keep a very talented player like Kelly Smith," Ryan said. " She was a key to both victories.”
That did not go unnoticed by her teammates.
“Leslie has just done a great job," midfielder Shannon Boxx said. "We have realized that we work very well together communicating on the field.”
When Osborne and Boxx are on the field at the same time, they both excel.
“Something just clicks with us, our communication," Osborne said. "We feel comfortable with each other out there. It’s just fun out there, and we enjoy being out there together.”
A member of the U.S. team that captured the FIFA Under-19 World Championship in 2002, Osborne’s knack for winning began well before she started wearing red, white, and blue.
While Osborne was playing at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin, her teams went 83-5-6. Her college team, the Santa Clara Broncos, were 75-15-9.
Osborne didn't figure in the scoring Saturday, but she held off Smith long enough to let her teammates to do what they do best—score goals.
The U.S., which scored only five goals in three Group B matches, struck for three goals within a 12-minute period in the second half of their quarterfinal game. Abby Wambach, who has the best strike rate of any active player (81 goals in 100 international matches), gave the U.S. all the scoring it needed. Boxx and Kristine Lilly (127 international goals) scored their first goals of the competition.
"We feel like this team hasn't shown its best and the only way you can show your best is to score goals," Wambach said.
They hope to continue their winning ways on Sunday in their semifinal battle against Brazil.