The clash of the top two women’s soccer teams in the world lived up to its billing, with #1 U.S.A. and #2 Germany battling to a 2-2 draw at rain-soaked Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT tonight. The two had played to a 1-1 draw Saturday night in the opener of their two-game series, with both goals scored in the first 20 minutes – a second minute finish from Abby Wambach, assisted by Alex Morgan, and a 14th minute strike from German forward Anja Mittag.
This time, the first goal of the night, also by Wambach, didn’t come until 43 minutes in. The U.S. defense was on its heels for much of the first half, but a late buildup from Carli Lloyd to Megan Rapinoe along the left flank allowed Morgan to break free into the edge of the penalty area, where she crossed Rapinoe’s service toward the far post for Wambach to head it home. It was Wambach’s 148th career goal, 11 away from breaking Mia Hamm’s record of 158.
The lead wouldn’t last long, however. Just after the break, the young, electric German forward Dzsenifer Marozsán pounced on an uncharacteristic misstep on a clearance by captain Christie Rampone and with nobody to defend her, slotted the ball easily past Solo. The U.S. grabbed the lead back midway through the half when Morgan chased down a ball to the end line and passed it back into the area for an incoming Carli Lloyd. Lloyd just missed the ball, but Tobin Heath timed her run perfectly behind Lloyd to put it away. Morgan collected her second assist of the night, and her 18th of the year.
The U.S. was nearly able to close out the victory, but with just five minutes left, Marozsán shocked the backpedalling defense with a rocket from 20 yards out, past a diving Solo to tie things up once again.
The results are not surprising for two of the most physical teams on the international stage. Midway through their Olympic celebration “Fan Tribute Tour” and wearing down after an intense year of training for the Olympics following the World Cup, the U.S. is certainly not in top form. Their frequent inability to possess through the midfield and defensive breakdowns made that clear. However, they held strong against the Germans, who are in the middle of their club season and preparing for Euros 2013. Germany possesses a much younger roster, as well. Five members of the squad also recently appeared in the U-20 World Cup, where they lost in the finals to the U.S. U-20s.
Below are highlights of both matches, courtesy of U.S. Soccer.
Wambach’s opening goal in Hartford:
Marozsán scores her second of the night:
Full highlights of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw in East Hartford, including Heath’s go-ahead goal:
Full highlights of Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Chicago:
The U.S. will continue their Victory Tour with a double-header against the Republic of Ireland November 28 in Portland and December 1 in Phoenix.
U.S. Soccer never makes it easy on the fans, does it?
Just a few days ago, our Men’s National Team put together a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance in a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica, where they came out roaring in the first half with multiple heart-stopping opportunities, only to slow down and look worn down and undisciplined for the majority of the second half. They managed to hang on for a 1-0 win, but not without questions of where did that first half go.
Today’s U.S. Women’s National Team’s performance in a friendly versus Australia was exactly the opposite, but not in the way you might think. The third match of the Olympic Gold medalists’ Fan Tribute Tour didn’t start out with anything that resembled their triumph over Japan in July. It certainly wasn’t a first half performance that gave the fans cause to celebrate. Maybe you can chalk it up to rust from a few weeks off after such a rigorous training schedule through the Olympics, but the U.S.A did not look like a shell of themselves in the opening 45 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Instead, the U.S. looked sluggish and out of sync, dinking short passes without much precision throughout the midfield, unable to maintain possession long enough to take advantage of Alex Morgan’s speed and Abby Wambach’s strength up top. Meanwhile, Australia was the team dominating the run of play, stringing together passes long enough to keep the U.S. defense on their heels early on. Defensive breakdowns led to near heart attack-inducing moments, courtesy of forward Sarah Walsh, who pounced on a failed U.S. attempt to clear the ball in the penalty area and ripped a shot from close range that went over the crossbar. The Matildas continued to pressure the U.S. by picking off errant passes, and soon afterward Walsh slipped past the defense and beat Hope Solo, only to have her surefire shot bang off the bottom corner of the right post. » Continue reading “U.S. Women Write a Tale of Two Halves in Comeback Win vs Australia”
Co-captain Abby Wambach scored two goals in front of her hometown crowd at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.
It was a fitting homecoming for Abby Wambach, who scored two goals – both headers – in front of a sold-out crowd of over 13,000 at Rochester’s Sahlen Stadium to kick off the U.S. National Team’s Fan Tribute Tour.
The day before the match, the City of Rochester had welcomed their hometown hero back from her Olympic triumph by renaming the main street outside of the stadium “Wambach Way”. Abby and her teammates thanked the city and its fans by giving them a performance to remember, a clinical showing in which they controlled possession from start to finish, scoring eight goals in the process.
Alex Morgan appeared to put the U.S. up in the 13th minute when she sent a ball through the legs of the Costa Rican goalkeeper, Erica Miranda, but was called offside. Lucky for the U.S., however, Wambach was fouled just at the edge of the penalty area on her pass to Morgan, and a free kick was awarded. Megan Rapinoe lined up to take the kick, and sent the ball straight over the wall, off the crossbar and behind the goal line for an early 1-0 lead.
The U.S. continued to apply heavy pressure, with on-target strikes from Tobin Heath and Wambach, and another just-wide header from Wambach threatening to put the game away early. But Miranda was on her game early, racking up six saves in the first 20 minutes to keep Costa Rica within reach.
Wambach would not be denied for long, however. In the 25th minute she headed home a cross from Rachel Buehler, her 144th international goal, and from there, the rout was on.
Minutes later, Wambach headed in a corner kick from Rapinoe to give the U.S. a comfortable cushion, though it wouldn’t be necessary as Costa Rica’s opportunities were few and far between. Hope Solo only had to make one save, and Costa Rica’s first real threat didn’t come until midway through the second half, when backup keeper Jillian Loyden came up with a big save of a strike from just a few yards in front of the net.
In the 38th minute, Alex Morgan joined the scoring party, doing what Alex Morgan does best. She raced into the penalty area to get a hold of a Wambach header, took one touch to evade her defender and struck the ball with her left foot, past Miranda with ease.
Rapinoe closed the first half with yet another goal, a long-range strike from about 20 yards out that Miranda got a hand on, but couldn’t control,and the ball trickled over the goal line for the 5-0 lead.
Pia Sundhage brought on multiple subs over the course of the second half – Loyden for Solo, Amy Rodriguez for Rapinoe, Heather O’Reilly for Shannon Boxx, Becky Sauerbrunn for Rachel Buehler, Heather Mitts for Amy LePeilbet, and Sydney Leroux for Abby Wambach, who left the field to a standing ovation. Leroux picked up a goal of her own in the 77th minute, speeding past the defense to collect a Morgan pass through the middle, and finding a wide open net. She also provided an assist to Heather O’Reilly in the closing minutes.
Not to be denied after her MVP performance in the Olympics, Carli Lloyd added to the barrage of goals with a free kick over the wall and beyond the keeper for the 7th goal of the evening.
The U.S. will continue their tour with tougher tests to come, including two matches against Australia September 16 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. and September 19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado Springs. Those matches will air on NBC and ESPN2/ESPN3, respectively. The U.S. will also head to Chicago and Hartford for two matches against international powerhouse Germany October 20 and 23. The Victory Tour is scheduled to include 10 stops, but no other matches have been announced yet.
The U.S. Women’s National Team avenged their heartbreaking loss to Japan in last year’s World Cup Final with a 2-1 victory over that same Japanese team to capture Gold for the third straight time in the Olympic Games.
It wasn’t the dramatic overtime, penalty-shootout finish that defined their end in Germany last summer. No, this time the U.S. held onto a one-goal lead to do what they didn’t a year ago – finish.
Carli Lloyd put the U.S. on the board in the 8th minute with a diving header off an Alex Morgan cross from the end line that just missed the left foot of Abby Wambach. In the 54th minute, Lloyd added an insurance goal, taking the ball up the middle and then stunning the defense with a wonder strike from 20 yards out.
Remember when Abby Wambach was mired in a scoring drought coming into the 2011 World Cup? As I recall, she scored her first goal of the tournament in the final group stage match against Sweden, having only scored one goal in 10 matches prior to that.
With the way she’s playing now, it’s almost hard to believe.
There’s no denying Wambach is at the top of her game right now. The 32 year old striker has scored a goal in each match of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s Olympic campaign so far, bringing her career total to 142. “Old Faithful” has stayed composed under pressure, cutting into France’s 2-0 lead early in the first match with a classic header off a corner kick. Against Colombia, she tacked on a late insurance goal after getting punched in the face and knocked to the ground by Lady Andrade.
Nothing is keeping Abby Wambach from realizing her goal of winning that Olympic gold medal.
Alex Morgan reps Manchester United before the USWNT played at Old Trafford. Photo via @alexmorgan13 on Twitter.
The group stage of the women’s soccer (excuse me, football) tournament wrapped up today, with Canada and New Zealand securing their places in the quarterfinals by finishing third in their groups. The U.S. shined in the first international women’s football match at famous Old Trafford in Manchester, and Great Britain stunned defending silver medalists Brazil at Wembley. More on the full day’s results below.
Abby Wambach scored the lone goal in the 25th minute, set up beautifully on a long ball from Lauren Cheney over the top and into the penalty area for Alex Morgan. Morgan corralled it, worked around two defenders, and then slipped back to Wambach, who had no trouble slotting it past the keeper for her third goal of the tournament and 141st overall.
With the win, the 2004 and 2008 gold medalists finished with 9 points, securing first place in Group G and a quarterfinal date with New Zealand this Friday. After giving up 2 goals in the first 13 minutes of their opening match against France, the U.S. has recorded a clean sheet over the last 257 minutes of play, while scoring eight goals, the most of any team in the tournament.
Great Britain vs Brazil
Great Britain stunned Brazil with a 1-0 win at Wembley Stadium in front of over 70,000 supporters to finish with a perfect 3-0 record at the top of Group E. Stephanie Houghton put the host nation up 1-0 in the second minute of the match, off a corner kick from Kelly Smith, and Great Britain held off a furious rally from the 2008 silver medalists.
Both teams had already secured their place in the quarterfinals before the match, but with the win, Great Britain will now face Canada in the knockout stage, while Brazil will face the reigning World Cup Champions, Japan.
There had been suggestions back in Colombia of a conflict between the rising star and coach Ricardo Rozo, but the manager said that the 19-year-old forward just wasn’t fully fit to play in the previous two games.
With Colombia struggling to control possession, Rincon wasn’t able to pose much of a threat during the time she was on the field on Tuesday.
France’s Elodie Thomis scored in the 5th minute off a breakaway, and had a clear shot on goal after Colombia’s keeper, Sandra Sepulveda, came off her line to try to prevent the shot.
New Zealand vs Cameroon
Another first-time Olympian, Cameroon scored their first goal in their final match of the tournament, but also allowed an own goal, falling 3-1 to New Zealand. New Zealand grabbed their first win and points of the tournament, finishing third in their group with 3 points to grab the final spot in the quarterfinals, reaching the knockout round for the first time ever.
The outcome left Japan second in Group F, meaning it will now play either Britain or Brazil in Cardiff on Friday. If it had won the match, it would have faced the top-ranked United States or France, another strong team, in Glasgow, also on Friday.
Japan coach Norio Sasaki used substitutes in the second half and told them to keep possession and not score, based on how the other match in Group F was going. In that match, Canada drew 2-2 with Sweden, meaning Sweden topped the group.
Japan will match up against Brazil on Friday — certainly not an easy task, but certainly preferable to drawing the U.S. at this stage.
U.S.A’s Alex Morgan gets ready for the London Olympics. Photo via www.gotceleb.com
The Opening Ceremonies aren’t until Friday, but the action on the pitch kicked off Wednesday with the group stage of the women’s football tournament. Here are the highlights from today’s matches:
The defending gold medalists from the United States rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to France to grab three points in a 4-2 win. Abby Wambach scored a header off a corner kick in the 19th minute for her 139th international goal, Alex Morgan tallied two for her 28th and 29th, and Carli Lloyd added one off the bench for the game-winner in the 66th minute. The game was not without losses, however, as Olympic veteran Shannon Boxx suffered a hamstring injury in the 17th minute, which will most likely keep her out for the remainder of the Games.
Carli Lloyd celebrates her go-ahead goal in the 66th minute.
It’s never easy with the U.S. Women’s National Team, is it?
Down 2-0 in the first 15 minutes, the U.S.A. roared back with four unanswered goals to defeat France and grab 3 precious points in the opening group stage match of their 2012 Olympic campaign. Stunned but not rattled, after France scored twice within two minutes and an injury to central midfielder Shannon Boxx forced an early sub in of Carli Lloyd, the U.S. stuck to their game plan to put together a classic comeback victory, anchored by their patented resilience and never-say-die attitude.
As match commentator and former U.S. National Team star Brandi Chastain said, “The mentality that the U.S. National Team has is superior. They know when they go onto the field what they’re capable of.”
There were the likely heroes in the star front duo of Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, who combined for three of the U.S.’s four goals. Wambach breathed new life into the U.S. attack when she cut the lead in half at the 18 minute mark on a classic Abby header off a perfect corner kick from Megan Rapinoe. Sound familiar? » Continue reading “U.S. Women Strike Back With Dramatic 4-2 Win Over France”
The U.S. Women’s National Team wasted no time proving that they could beat the World Cup Champions, Japan, on Monday, scoring two goals in the opening ten minutes and never looking back from there.
Despite their FIFA ranking as the #1 women’s soccer team in the world, this game was a huge confidence booster for the red, white and blue heading into the 2012 Summer Olympics. Prior to the World Cup Final, the U.S. held a 22-0-3 record against Japan, but after relinquishing two leads in the match, they fell in penalty kicks to finish runners-up. In their two rematches since, the U.S. remained stymied by the Japanese, giving up a late goal to fall 1-0 and finish third in the Algarve Cup, and mustering a 1-1 draw at the Kirin Challenge Cup in Japan a month later.
In that match recap, I wrote the following:
If the U.S. has hopes of capturing gold in London this summer, they’re going to have to find a way to create more chances through the midfield and get the ball forward to [Alex] Morgan, who has quickly established herself as their go-to spark up top.
Oh, that they did.
Head coach Pia Sundhage continued to mix up the look in the midfield by starting Tobin Heath on the left side, sliding Megan Rapinoe over to the right in place of Heather O’Reilly. It paid off. Heath teamed up with Morgan in just the third minute, delivering the ball into the penalty area, where Morgan took a deadly strike toward the far post and into the upper corner of the net for the early USA lead.
Abby Wambach tallied the second goal for the U.S. in the 10th minute, poking in the ball just in front of the net off a perfect Rapinoe cross from the left flank.
The U.S. faced some defensive errors early on, as Hope Solo botched a backpass, knocking the ball beyond the end line for a Japan corner kick, but it didn’t come back to hurt them. Overall, the defense played much tighter and did not allow Japan many chances in the penalty area. Most of their chances on frame came from long range, including a scorcher off the crossbar in the 70th minute from Mizuho Sakaguchi from about 30 yards out, and a diving Solo save of a Miyama strike from just outside the box in the 75th.
Their lone goal in the 26th minute came moments after a corner, when a clearance by the U.S. was sent back out to captain Aya Miyama along the left wing. Miyama sliced the ball into the area and Yuki Nagasato knocked it in with a diving header just beyond Solo’s reach. Kudos to Japan on creating a terrific goal that the U.S. just had no chance on.
Morgan and Wambach teamed up beautifully, and created more chances for the U.S. early. Shortly after Japan cut the lead in half, Morgan took the ball up the right flank, passed back to Rapinoe, then sped up toward the end line and delivered a cross to Wambach, who headed it just at the keeper, Ayumi Kaihori. Minutes later, Morgan received a throw in from the middle of the field and blew past the Japanese defense into the penalty area, only to see her shot deflected by Kaihori and off the far post. Wambach followed up the rebound with a left-footed attempt but Kaihori was there to scoop it up.
They wouldn’t be denied in the second half, however. Morgan took advantage of a Japanese defensive turnover in the 60th minute to easily bank home her second of the day, 17th on the year and 27th overall for her short career. Wambach would add another in the third minute of stoppage time for her 138th career goal, diving in front of the goal to head home an O’Reilly cross.
For the most part, the U.S. outplayed Japan in the possession game, a trademark of the Japanese style. Unlike the previous match against Sweden, where they had trouble maintaining possession through the midfield in order to get the ball forward, their movement was fluid and on target, and they were able to become much more aggressive in the attacking end. They dominated in transition, launching counterattacks fueled by Morgan’s speed and Wambach’s perfect positioning and deft touch. By the end of the first half they’d racked up 8 shots on goal, and totalled 11 for the match.
With a resounding 4-1 victory over their new rivals under their belts, previous doubts of their ability to overcome Japan’s tactical style have been erased. Heading into the Olympics, they’ve soundly beaten two of the other top three finishers from last year’s World Cup and have every reason to believe that they can capture the gold once again.
The U.S. will finish their Olympic preparation friendlies against Canada at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on June 30, with live coverage on NBC.
It was a mixed performance today from the U.S. Women’s National Team in one of their final tune-ups before they jet off to London for the Olympics. The U.S. kicked off the Volvo Winners Cup, a friendly tournament with the top three finishers from last summer’s World Cup, against hosts Sweden at Örjans Vall Stadium in Halmstad, and will finish against the World Cup Champions, Japan, on Monday, June 18.
The U.S. came away with a 3-1 win, but not without some concern. Let’s look at what went right and wrong for the two-time defending gold medal winners.
Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath celebrate Heath's second half goal to put the U.S.A. up 3-1 over Sweden in the Volvo Winners Cup from Halmstad, Sweden.
The U.S. scored three goals and mostly held off a strong Swedish attack, led by one of the top strikers in the world, Lotta Schelin, to preserve the win. Abby Wambach put the USA up early with an 8th-minute half volley from about 35 yards out, over the head of Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, with a headed assist from Heather O’Reilly. Watch this beauty here:
In the 22nd minute, The Alex Morgan Show arrived. Morgan latched onto a ball that Shannon Boxx had intercepted off a misguided Swedish pass and tapped into the penalty area behind the defense. She muscled off her defender, pulling Lindahl off her line, and provided a perfect strike into an open net for her 25th career goal in 40 appearances.
“Oh my!” indeed.
Morgan nearly had a second goal to close out the first half, but she was just a step too late on a gorgeous cross from Megan Rapinoe that landed just in front of goal, and she skied it over the crossbar.
Tobin Heath came into the match in the second half for Heather O’Reilly and in the 55th minute, took advantage of a disorganized Swedish defense to slip into an open penalty area and head the ball in for the third and final goal.
The Swedish defense looked extremely susceptible early, and it felt like it could be a repeat of the USA’s 4-0 blowout of Sweden in the Algarve Cup third-place match earlier in the year. But their midfield kept them in the game, taking advantage of their opponent’s miscues to win back the bulk of the possession in the second half and minimize the U.S.’s attacking chances.
Hope Solo provided some spectacular saves, including an 18th minute long-distance strike from Schelin that would have tied the game up at 1 apiece, and not a minute later, another from Schelin, crossing in from the left side of the penalty area. For me, Solo wins the Bud Light Woman of the Match, as she had herself in perfect position to cover for a very susceptible back line today.
The central midfield and back line were not up to par today, making Solo’s role especially critical. Heather Mitts started at right back, as Kelley O’Hara was out with a quad injury sustained during training camp, and had much trouble early containing Schelin racing up the left flank. Lauren Cheney started in the midfield in place of Carli Lloyd, and though I thought that Cheney starting alongside Boxx in the middle would provide more of a midfield attacking spark, it wasn’t to be.
Rampone held the center and made some tough plays to drive Sweden’s attackers off the ball, and Becky Sauerbrunn filled in nicely for the captain in the second half, but for the most part, the defense was caught out of position and was forced to play catch up to clear away the ball before Sweden had a chance to strike. Lotta Schelin’s 35th minute goal was well-deserved, especially after earlier chances where she was stymied by Solo, but she really got the better of Rachel Buehler on the play.
The U.S. started quickly in the second half, catching Sweden off guard, and Rapinoe nearly headed in a third goal in the opening seconds, but it went off the crossbar.
After Heath’s goal ten minutes in, they slowed down and couldn’t maintain possession through the midfield to give their attackers anything to work with. The back line had difficulty providing solid service forward that wasn’t easily intercepted by the Swedish midfield, and the USA found themselves unable to play the possession game, one of the trademarks of their game.
It really wasn’t until the final minutes of the match that the U.S. was able to build up pressure on a tired Swedish defense again. A long-range shot from Carli Lloyd, who subbed in for Boxx after halftime, threatened to give them a cherry on top but Lindahl was just able to get a hand on it for the save. Cheney finally got involved in the attack as the clock hit 90 minutes, but her strike from the center of the penalty area just went over the crossbar.
In about the 50th minute, technical difficulties from Universal Sports Network, caused a blackout and fans watching missed nearly five minutes of the match. Thankfully, they were able to resolve the issues just in time for us to catch Heath’s header, but I’ll be looking forward to NBC’s broadcast of USA-Canada in their Olympics sendoff match on June 30.
Commentator Christian Miles wasn’t exactly having a great day either. In addition to the classic “Megan Rampone” and “Rampinoe”, he attributed the Tobin Heath goal to “who else but lucky 13, Alex Morgan.” Only when the replay was shown, with Heath’s #17 clearly in front of the camera did Miles correct himself, admitting that the ponytail threw him off. Ouch.
We hope that Universal Sports and Miles improve the broadcast for Monday’s match against Japan, who the U.S. have yet to beat since falling in penalty kicks in the Women’s World Cup Final. The match will air live on universalsports.com at 7:00am ET, and re-air on television (for DirectTV and DISH Network customers) at 10:00am ET.
What did you think of the U.S. WNT’s performance today? Comment here or drop us a tweet at @AerysSoccer.