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July 13, 2008
Rodriguez lifts U.S. over Brazil -- again

Amy Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal against Brazil for the second time in a month.
Amy Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal against Brazil for the second time in a month.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Commerce City, Colo. -- For the second time in as many games against Brazil, the U.S. Women's National Team recorded a 1-0 victory behind an Amy Rodriguez game-winner in an international friendly at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Sunday.

Rodriguez scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the Brazilians in the Peace Queen Cup championship game in Suwon, South Korea June 17.

“I said at halftime to take the chance and keep possession,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “You feel like you are under pressure, but (the U.S.) is such a good team that we can keep possession under pressure and let them run instead. I think we did that in the second half. The fact that we were more patient, kept possession in the midfield and in the back, and at the same time we had A-Rod up top. That was the difference in the second half.”

The teams will fly to Southern California where they play one more time on Wednesday, July 16 in San Diego (Fox Soccer Channel, 10 p.m. ET) in their final tune-up prior to the Beijing Olympics next month.

“It’s great for our confidence and getting us ready for the Olympics," Rodriguez said. "We want to go into the Olympics feeling confident and ready and I think we proved that out there today.”

Rodriguez came on at halftime, replacing Natasha Kai. She immediately gave the Americans an offensive spark, the high point being her fifth international goal 26 minutes into the second half. The scoring sequence came about after the U.S. dug a ball out of a scramble on the left wing. Substitute Tobin Heath played a short pass to forward Abby Wambach on the wing and she spun a cross through penalty area on the ground.

The ball skipped through the legs of a Brazilian defender and took a slight deflection right into the path of Rodriguez, who crushed a rising 10-yard shot into the roof of the net at the near post. Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara got a hand on it, but could stop it.

“I wasn’t really expecting that ball to pop through," Rodriguez said. "Fortunately, the defender took a bad touch and let it sneak by to me and I was able to hit it first time and it went in, so I was excited.”

The Americans improved to 20-0-1 this year and haven't surrendered a goal to Brazil since giving up four at the Women's World Cup semifinals last September.

The Brazilians played without a number of regular players, including Marta, considered by many to be the best women's player in the world. Marta was performing for her club team in Europe.

“They are great competitors. They are a great team," U.S. defender Christie Rampone said. "They bring it every game so it’s good to have competition like that. They are missing some players, but everyone is so talented on that team and they are really skillful so it does challenge us. They are missing Marta and Cristiane up top which changes their dimension a little bit, but at the same time we still have to play them straight up.”

Abby Wambach entered the match with 99 career international goals, but she was closely guarded by the Brazilians and could not find the back of the net.

“Abby is important for the team, of course," Sundhage said. "If you look at Brazil when they play they stay closer all the time so she creates space for others. She will get a run to goal sooner than later, I think it will be sooner. She is effective in the air, she had a couple of shots today and the goals come.”
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