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March 6, 2013
Wambach (154 goals) moves 4 behind Hamm's record as she scores in U.S.'s 3-0 Algarve win

Abby Wambach is only four goals away from tying Mia Hamm's international record of 158
Abby Wambach is only four goals away from tying Mia Hamm's international record of 158
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
ALBUFEIRA, Portugal -- For Abby Wambach, it's 154 goals down, four to go before she ties Mia Hamm.

The U.S. international striker struck for her 154th international goal on Wednesday, helping the Americans to a 3-0 victory over Iceland in the opener of the Algarve Cup for both teams.

Wambach tallied the U.S.'s ffinal goal in the 74th minute of an Alex Morgan feed as she moved closer to Hamm's international career scoring record. Hamm, who retired in 2004, finished her illustrious career with 158 goals.

Rachel Buehler, who wore the captain's armband in honor of her 100th cap, celebrated the occasion with a goal. She lifted the Americans to a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute. Shannon Boxx doubled the lead in the 62nd minute.

It was the seventh year in a row the Americans won their Algarve opener, but it was not easy against a physical Iceland side that played low pressure on the front line while pushing its backs high, which severely compacted the space in the midfield.

ďI was happy with the win and I was relatively happy with the second half performance, but it took us 45 minutes to get going," coach Tom Sermanni said. "I thought in the first half, we were a little bit slow, a little bit sloppy and untidy. In the second half, we played a tempo that suits us better, moved the ball a lot better and put the Icelandic team under more pressure so that was better. It was a game of two halves.Ē

While the U.S. struggled to connect passes and find an attacking rhythm in the first half, it scored almost exactly two minutes into the final half.

The Americans earned a corner kick almost right off the kickoff and Lauren Cheney sent a line drive into the pack of players. Buehler, making a hard run through the middle, redirected the ball with a header into the left corner.

It was only the fourth goal of Buehler's international career, and while it was not the most dramatic - she scored in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup against North Korea - it was certainly emotional.

"Usually we hit the corner kicks back post, but it came right to my head and I was ready and it was probably the best goal Iíve had," Buehler said. "Well, maybe the Korea goal [in the 2011 Womenís World Cup], but it was an awesome goal so Iím pretty excited about it!Ē

The Americans doubled their advantage in the 62nd minute off another corner kick. This time Cheney's cross was close enough to the net that goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir got a hand on it, but didn't push it far. The ball went to Boxx at the far post. Her header sent the ball back across the ball and Iceland cleared, but not far enough. Christie Rampone sent a header back to the right post to Boxx, who jumped high to loop a six-yard header into the left side of the net.

Wambach scored one of the easiest goals of her career in the 74th minute, but the hard work was done by Alex Morgan. The speedy forward raced into the left side of the penalty area to latch onto a weak back pass, beating Helgadottir to a loose ball before poking it past the goalkeeper to Wambach, who was alone in the middle as she scored from close range.

ďIíll actually say that I got the assist on Alexís goal," Wambach said. "She did all the hard work. As a forward, those kinds of goals come very infrequently, so Iíll take it, but at the end of the day, Alex did all the work. Hard defending and getting the ball across the front of the box and it was a simple goal for anyone to finish.Ē

Goalkeeper Jill Loyden, playing in place of regular Hope Solo, who is recovering from an injury, recorded the shutout in her third start.

ďAnytime you can play and get on the field and get some minutes, itís a great opportunity to have fun and smile out there and I get to play behind some awesome teammates," Loyden said. "We had fun out there and it showed. We got the shutout.Ē

Crystal Dunn, the 2012 Hermann Trophy winner, made her first start and played the entire game on at right back.

The U.S. will meet China at 9 a.m. ET on Friday. The game is available on pay-per-view.
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