that is nice bonus change
The USWNT is about to take on S. Korea in NJ. Abby Wambach scored her 156th goal in the last game (4-1 win over S. Korea), and is two shy of Mia Hamm's record of 158.
In Pia Sundhage's final game as US coach, the WNT gave her a fine farewell with a 6-2 victory over the Matildas.
Alex Morgan was great, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists. In the 25' she chased down an errant clearance to the left of goal. Her cross went all the way across the box to the top right, where Heather O'Reilly got to it, and her low shot deflected off a defender's foot an into goal. The team went over to the sideline and strummed air guitars in reference to the signed guitar they had given to their coach.
The game suddenly changed several minutes later when speedy Lisa de Vanna ran onto a nice entry pass and poked the ball past Hope Solo for the equalizer in 32', then Aussie captain Sarah Walsh, in her last game, got the go-ahead goal in 34' when Kelley O'Hara missed a clearance attempt.
A few minutes before the half, Tobin Heath started a nice series of passes by putting one through the legs of a Matilda to Alex Morgan, who touched it wide to Kelley O'Hara, who cut it back to Alex, who took a couple of touches and put it in the far side of the net in 43'. It was good to go into halftime 2-2.
The second half was all US. In 53' a weak clearance deflected off another Matilda at the top of the box where Alex Morgan pounced on in, shooting low. It deflected off of Abby Wambach's foot high into the air, bouncing inside 6-yard line with a lot of topspin and into goal.
Alex got her 2nd goal of the night (34th international) in 63' when Heather Mitts crossed from the right corner, and Alex, not very closely marked in front of goal, headed it in.
In the next minute she settled a high long ball outside of the box, but her shot hit the left post.
Megan Rapinoe assisted on the last two goals, first on a corner headed in by Shannon Boxx in 69', then in 82' on a free kick headed in by Sydney Leroux.
There are a couple of friendlies scheduled with Germany on 10/20 (Bridgeview, IL, time TBD) and 10/23 (E Hartford, CT @ 7:30 PM ET), and the announcers talked about possibly a couple more TBD. No definitive timetable on hiring a new coach, but maybe by the end of October
The sideline reporter said she talked to some players about what they were looking for in a new coach, and they said someone who will earn their respect quickly. The announcers interpreted that as someone who will "crack the whip" when necessary.
USA 2, Australia 1
Game 2 of the Fan Tribute Tour, and I thought it showed. That is, since the USWNT isn't in training for a major tournament or a WC qualifier, they weren't that sharp: passes at the beginning of the game weren't as crisp as you'd expect, often getting intercepted, and the urgency wasn't there. So the Matildas had better chances early, including a couple shots off the posts.
Alex Morgan, earning her 50th cap, did get behind their D a couple times, with one shot to the outside side netting on the left, and another shot just missing outside right. During the broadcast the announcers said Coach Sundhage was telling her to get behind their D more. She had another shot hitting the outside of the net just before the half.
Australia scored first in the 34' as the fastest player on the field, Lisa de Vanna, beat our fastest player, Christie Rampone, all the way from her side of the field (starts about 2:30 in the highlights vid below).
Kate Markgraf, former US defender, was calling the game, and said if it weren't a friendly, Rampone would have grabbed her shirt, fouled her, even if you draw a yellow card. She was asked how she would have defended de Vanna, and responded "grab her shirt, or just crack her," and the older guy mused that he wouldn't want to play in an NBC pickup game against her.
Morgan got her 32nd international goal at 55' (4:18 in vid). She took a pass from Heather O'Reilly on the right, her first touch getting her into the box, a quick cut to get room to shoot, and she ripped it home. In the 60' she drew a penalty, beating the D and getting tripped by the goalie, who came off her line to challenge. Shannon Boxx put it in for the winner.
Pia Sundhage pregame interview
The USWNT faces Australia again in Colorado on W 9/19 @ 10PM ET on ESPN2.
After the game Alex Morgan talked about being open to the possibility of playing overseas, if a league doesn't start up here. If it doesn't, I hope our players will find good opportunities and have the chance to work on their game against good competition.
Saturday afternoon the USWNT started their fan tribute tour by snacking on Costa Rica 8-0 in Rochester, NY. More on that in a bit.
Before the game coach Pia Sundhage told the team that she's stepping down as coach (after the games against Australia) to go home to Sweden, where they need a coach. Good luck to her in her pursuit of that job (just not against us, if and when we meet). In her five years as US coach, the team got two Olympic golds and a World Cup silver inbetween. (USSoccer link.) She will be missed. Hopefully the next coach can get the team to win a world cup, which the US hasn't done since 1999.
Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring at 13', and Abby Wambach got the next two (24', 32'), getting her career international total to 145. Alex Morgan scored at 38', and Rapinoe got her 2nd goal at 45'. Sub Sydney Leroux scored at 77', Carli Lloyd at 84', and sub Heather O'Reilly at 89'.
It could have been worse: Costa Rica's keeper had 6 saves in the first 20-25 min, finishing with 12.
The USWNT plays Australia in Carson, CA on Sun Sep 16 (3:30 PM ET on NBC), then again in Commerce City, CO on Wed Sep 19 (10 PM ET ON ESPN2 & 3).
The U-20 WNT made the semis of the U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan by beating N Korea 2-1 in extra time. (Recap link.) They face Nigeria on Tu 9/4 @ 3 AM ET on ESPNU (& -3). Japan plays Germany at 6:30 AM ET. Third place and final games are on Sat 9/8 at 2:30 AM ET and 6:20 AM ET.
On topic: U-M had three players involved, but none for the US. Sophomore Christina Murillo played with Mexico, which got eliminated by Nigeria in the quarters. Juniors Nkem Ezurike and Shelina Zadorsky played for Canada, which did not make it out of group play.
/OT - The MNT plays Jamaica twice in World Cup qualifiers: Fri 9/7 in Kingston, Jamaica at 8 PM ET (on beIN SPORT, whatever that is - I'm sure there will be a stream somewhere) and again on Tu 9/11 in Columbus, OH at 8 PM ET (on ESPN2 & 3).
Goalies: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Sean Johnson & Nick Rimando
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Michael Parkhurst, & Jonathan Spector
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Joe Corona, Jermaine Jones, Brek Shea, Jose Torres, Danny Williams, & Graham Zusi
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, & Herculez Gomez
On a hot Saturday afternoon in Utah, the USWNT completed their pre-Olympic tuneup by beating Canada, 2-1. In the 15', Woman of the Match Megan Rapinoe crossed the ball into the box between the defense and the keeper, causing an own goal by Carmelina Moscato, who turned and, facing her own goal, reached for the ball and tipped it past the keeper, who would have had it.
In first half extra time, Hope Solo made a great save (just after 2:00 in the highlight video): she was going to her right near the post, when the shot deflected off a defender to the middle of the goal; she dove to make the save, then scrambled to stop it right on the line at the left post as a Canadian tried to poke it in.
Right after that on the counterattack, Alex Morgan chased down a long ball, dribbling into the left side of the box, cutting back and losing two defenders, and recovering her balance to put a shot past the keeper, only to have another defender block it a few feet in front of the goal.
Melissa Tancredi evened it up in the 57' with a rocket off the bottom of the crossbar. Amy Rodriguez got the winner in the 85', pouncing on a deflected backheel from Abby Wambach, after a cross from Rapinoe.
Scary moment: in the 50' Alex Morgan spun away from a defender, who tripped her, and she went down. Initially, I though it was an ankle, but after she got up and walked off under her own power (phew!), she eventually had an ice bag on her knee. On Twitter she says it's "doing good, was just a scare." She has 3.5 wks to get better, as the USWNT will open group play against France on W 7/25. (Columbia 7/28, N Korea 7/31.)
US Soccer recap
Highlights link (will embed below)
Earlier in June the WNT won the Volvo Winners Cup by beating Sweden 3-1 on goals by Wambach (8'), Morgan (22') and Tobin Heath (56') (recap), then Japan 4-1 on goals by Morgan (3', 61') and Wambach (10', 92') (recap). It was good to beat the defending world champs.
The USWNT's final match of the Kirin Challenge Cup was moved up four hours from 8PM to 4PM local due to expected bad weather. As it was, it was raining on and off, and it got worse in the second half.
I was a bit surprised that the starting lineup remained the same, given they played on Sunday. Brazil did not have Marta, who was with her club team.
18' - Abby Wambach got fouled in midfield, and Christie Rampone sent the free kick into the box. It dropped down just outside the six, where it deflected off Rachel Buehler's heel and went right. Unmarked, Carli Lloyd pounced on it for the 1-0 lead. Brazil G Barbara did not come out to get the ball. (Usual starter Andrea was there, but is still recovering from an injury.)
23' - Another set piece, taken by Lauren Cheney. She sends it far post, and it's Shannon Boxx making a curling run and heading the ball down into the lower left corner, and Barbara can't get to it.
30' - Brazil sends a long ball to the right corner, crossed and headed into goal. But it's waved off. The announcer thought the cross curled out of bounds.
68' - Free kick, and Alex Morgan heads it into goal. But it's waved off. I don't see any offsides. Was it a foul? Grrr.
83' - Free kick 32 yds out, as Daiane dragged down Amy Rodriguez, who subbed at 71' for Alex Morgan. Abby? heads it down and back (away from goal), it bounces off a leg, and settles in the center of the box. Amy blasts it, gets a deflection off a defender into the right side of the net.
Coach Sundhage used more subs this game: Stephanie Cox for Amy LePeilbet at 32'; Becky Sauerbrunn for Christie Rampone, and Megan Rapinoe for Heather O'Reilly at halftime; Tobin Heath for Carli Lloyd at 62'; and Heather Mitts for Kelley O'Hara at 83'.
The Kirin Challenge Cup finishes with Japan playing Brazil on Thursday. If they can't beat Brazil by more than three goals, the US claims the cup.
Next up for the USWNT is a friendly vs China on May 27 at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
The USMNT has four games showing on the schedule: May 26 vs Scotland, May 30 vs Brazil, June 3 vs Canada, June 8 vs Antigua & Barbuda.