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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

March 8, 2013
NO WAMBACH, NO PROBLEM
USA women rout China at Algarve Cup


Ali Kreiger's goal gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead in their 5-0 win over China on Friday.
Ali Kreiger's goal gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead in their 5-0 win over China on Friday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
ALBUFEIRA, Portugal -- Even without Abby Wambach in the starting lineup, the U.S. women have proven to be a dangerous side.

Case in point: the Americans' 5-0 demolition of China in a group-stage match at the Algarve Cup on Friday.

Five players shared the wealth and filled the net for the Americans -- Sydney Leroux, Alex Krieger, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press and Whitney Engen.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was only the second time in 50 matches against China that the U.S. scored at least four goals. The only time was at the 2008 Algarve Cup when Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Lindsey Tarley and Wambach scored.

The U.S. needs a win against Sweden on Monday (11 a.m. ET/Pay-per-view) to book a spot in the first-place match.

Wambach, who is four goals shy of tying Mia Hamm (158) for the career international lead, never got off the bench.

Press scored her fourth goal in as many games this year, which leads the team. Defenders Krieger and Whitney Engen scored their first international goals and forward Sydney Leroux tallied the game’s first goal en route to the Americans' highest scoring output of the year.

Press became the fourth WNT player to score at least four goals in her first four games. Brandi Chastain holds the record with six goals in her first four games and Press matched the feat of Danielle Fotopoulos and Wambach, who scored four times in their first four matches.

U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni made 10 changes to the starting lineup from the 3-0 opening game victory against Iceland, with forward Alex Morgan as the only player in the starting lineup for both matches. Central defender Becky Sauerbrunn took the armband and captained the USA for the first time. Sauerbrunn was the co-captain of the U.S. team that finished third at the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Shortly after U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart stopped a one-on-one scoring chance by China’s Zhang Rui with a body save, the USA countered quickly with Leroux gaining possession in the midfield. She outran Pu Wei down the left side, cut towards goal almost to the six-yard box and slotted her right-footed shot underneath the glove of goalkeeper Zhang Yue in the 14th minute. It was her second goal of the year and 16th of her international career.

Krieger got on the score sheet in the 32nd minute when Morgan crossed the ball in from the left corner. Yue and the defense got sucked into the middle of the penalty area and snuck in at the far right, where she finished with a half volley back across the goal. The goal was the first from a U.S. outside back since Lori Chalupny’s go-ahead score in the first half of the USA’s 4-2 victory against China in the semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The U.S. increased its lead to 3-0 seconds into the second half when Rapinoe’s free kick from just outside the penalty area on the right side was deflected by defender Wu Haiyan. Yue tried desperately to clear, but the ball had already crossed the goal line and Yue’s attempt to bat the ball away instead sent the ball into the top inside netting.

China head coach Hao Wei switched goalkeepers with Wang Fei entering the match in the 52nd minute.

In the 64th minute, Morgan did some fine work to possess the ball in a crowd inside the penalty area before she laid the ball off to Press near the edge of the box. She took a touch to her right to elude China captain Pu Wei’s slide tackle and launched a rocket into the upper left corner for a 4-0 advantage.

Engen, who started in the center of the defense with Becky Sauerburnn, was playing in her fourth international match, but became the third defender to score this tournament. Her first career goal came in the 84th minute when she followed up Heather O’Reilly’s shot that was only partially cleared by Wu Haiyan. Engen was in the right place to slot her shot into the right corner from the left side of the box in for the final goal.

   
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