February 10, 2014
By Charles Cuttone
RIGHT WHERE THEY LEFT OFF
U.S. Women off to good start
Just two games into their 2014 schedule, the U.S. Women’s National Team find themselves picking right up where they off in 2013.
|“We feel awesome,” said WNT midfielder Heather O’Reilly. “It’s cool and rewarding when you see things from the training pitch translate to games and to goals.”
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The offense is clicking, and the defense has yet to allow a goal.
“I like where we are right now, after all the fine tuning,” said Carli Lloyd, who led the U.S. with two goals and an assist in Saturday’s 7-0 rout of Russia in Boca Raton Fla. “We’re on the right track.”
Lloyd missed the U.S.’s first game of the year, a 1-0 win over Canada in Dallas, because of a suspension, the result of a red card in the last game of 2013, against Brazil.
“Missing the last game really motivated Carli,” explained Tom Sermanni, who is 14-0-3 since taking over as the U.S. Coach.
It took the U.S. a little time to get rolling on Saturday, but once they did, the floodgates opened. That’s not what impressed Sermanni.
“It wasn’t so much about just getting in the result. I thought some of the habits and some of the things we’ve been doing in training really came into the game today. I was really pleased about that,” he said.
“What happened is that kind of knocked the steam out of Russia. They defended well for that first 20-25 minutes and made life difficult for us. But, the way we approached the game even during that time, I thought a gap was eventually going to open up. As soon as it did, it was always going to be a long way back for Russia. I was really pleased the way we kept it up until we scored the goal. After that, it made life easier for us.”
Christen Press had two goals in the game, and Heather O’Reilly added a goal and an assist. Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach also scored.
“We feel awesome,” said O’Reilly. “It’s cool and rewarding when you see things from the training pitch translate to games and to goals. We’re happy with some of our growth right now, and obviously, the score. We scored some really fantastic goals today. It’s exciting.”
Sermanni used a mostly experienced lineup on Saturday, with Florida native Erika Tymrak and Kristie Mewis the only relative newcomers to see action. Amy Rodriguez made her first appearance for the U.S. in over a year, after taking time off to have a baby.
“I thought she looked good today to come on and look lively and almost score with her first touch,” said Sermanni of Rodriguez. “It’s getting back into the game and getting some match fitness. It’s been a long time since she played. Overall, I think getting a few minutes in the game today was really valuable to her.”
Rodriguez was happy to get back on the field.
“It felt good. I was excited to get out there for a full 30 minutes. I still think I’m working on hitting my stride, but hopefully I can get out there in the next game again.”
With the win, the U.S. WNT extended its unbeaten streak at home to 79 games (69-0-10) and extended its unbeaten streak overall to 41 games (35-0-6), dating back to March 2012.
The U.S. faces Russia again on Wednesday at the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta, then has their usual trek to Portugal for the Algarve Cup from March 5-12, where they will face Japan, Sweden and Denmark.
Sunshine Soccer News Editor Norb Ecksl provide reporting for this story from Boca Raton, Fla.