February 9, 2013
Brace in first game leads USWNT to 4-1 win
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Christen Press made an immediate impact in her U.S. Women's National team debut, by becoming just the third player to score two goals in her first game, leading a 4-1 win over Scotland at EverBank Field.
The crowd of 18,656 was the largest crowd ever to watch the U.S. Women in a stand-alone friendly match in Florida and the entire southeast.
Shannon Boxx added her 26th career goal and Sydney Leroux her 15th career tally in the second half as the U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 24 games (21-0-3). The USA also improved to 22-4-3 in its calendar year openers since the team debuted in 1985.
The match marked the first game and first victory for new U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni. The Scotland native also gave three players their first caps on Saturday: Press, midfielder Kristie Mewis and defender Julie Johnston.
Press gave the U.S. an early lead in the 13th minute. Right back Ali Krieger, who returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a severe knee injury in Olympic qualifying in January of 2012, drove a long free kick into the penalty box and Scotland's defense failed to clear it. It bounced to the edge of the box and Press struck a first-time left footed half-volley that sailed past Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fay for the 1-0 lead.
She then got her second goal in the 32nd minute when Tobin Heath served up a precision left-footed cross from the left flank. Press made a perfectly timed run to slip behind her defender at the far past and headed the ball back across the goal into the lower left corner.
Forward Alex Morgan, had to depart in the first half when she injured her ankle on a Joanne Love foul that drew a yellow card in the 39th minute. The injury is not serious, but Morgan was replaced by Leroux in the 41st minute.
Boxx gave the USA a 3-0 lead in the 52nd minute when Press lifted a pass to her from the left corner of the penalty area. Boxx took a deft left-footed touch, brought the ball to her right and smashed her shot into the upper left corner of the goal from 25 yards out for one of the best finishes of her career.
Scotland responded with a brilliant strike of its own just two minutes later when midfielder Kim Little, who played for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, ran onto a poor clearance at the edge of the box and drilled a shot past second-half goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart into the right side of the net to cut the lead to 3-1.
Leroux capped off the scoring in the 89th minute with a typical powerful run into the attacking third. She sprinted under a long service from Yael Averbuch into the left side of the penalty area before lifting the ball past the onrushing Fay and into the net from 10 yards out. Averbuch came close to scoring a goal of her own, striking a wicked 35-yard free kick off the crossbar in the 76th minute. All of Leroux's 15 career goals have come as a substitute.
Press is the 17th player overall to score a goal in her first WNT match. The other players scoring a brace in the debuts were Cindy Parlow (Jan. 14, 1996; 8-1 win against Russia) and Sherrill Kester (Jan. 7, 2000; 8-1 win against the Czech Republic).