March 10, 2014
2-game losing streak is women's first since 2001
ALBUFEIRA, Portugal – The U.S. Women’s National Team dropped its second straight decision, falling 5-3 to Denmark in its final Group B match of the Algarve Cup. Christen Press, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe each scored second-half goals to mount a comeback, but it was not enough as the USA suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2001.
The USA played a sluggish first half in which it struggled to get anything going offensively and ran into a Denmark team whose counter-attack was clinical. Denmark played low pressure while compacting the midfield, inviting the USA to find a way through the bunker before launching quick counters, and the first goal came in just that fashion.
After neither team created much in the way of chances for the first 20 minutes, a quick break down the left resulted in a tremendous shot from Katrine Veje. She struck her low, powerful blast perfectly across the goal, off the right post and in for a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.
The USA then conceded two goals in five minutes between the 35th and 39th minutes. A giveaway off a square pass in the back turned disastrous as Denmark squared the ball to the wide open Nadia Nadim in the right side of the penalty area and she plowed her shot into the left corner to make it 2-0. The U.S. then conceded on a corner kick four minutes later as Nadim rose in a crowd to power a header into the left side of the net to make it 3-0 at the break.
A galvanized U.S. team came out in the second half, peppering the Denmark goal with shots and crosses, and quickly pulled a goal back in the 51st minute through Press. Midfielder Samantha Mewis, who was making her first start for the WNT, threaded a pass to Heather O'Reilly inside the penalty area and she touched it to Press, who rolled her shot into the lower left corner.
With the USA pressing, Denmark scored off another counter-attack in the 62nd minute. This time, it was Joanna Rasmussen who got behind the U.S. defense to slot home. The USA answered back immediately as Sydney Leroux ran under a long ball over the Danish back line and shot into the lower left corner to make it 4-2 in the 63rd minute
Just a minute later, Press had two chances, but her bullet header hit the right post and after Carli Lloyd ran down the rebound and crossed back into the middle, the U.S. striker saw her low shot toward the left corner saved by the sprawling Denmark goalkeeper. Soon after, Leroux broke free behind the defense, but saw her quasi-breakaway saved.
The third U.S. goal came after a sustained sequence of pressure in the Denmark penalty area which ended when Lloyd got to the ball near the end line on the left side, squared a pass on the ground into the middle and Rapinoe knocked it home from right on the goal line.
At that point, the USA had numerous chances to tie the score, but could not find the equalizer. With about 20 minutes left, Press got behind the defense and lobbed the keeper, but her shot flew wide right.
In the 77th minute, the USA earned a free kick from 28 yards out almost straight away. Rapinoe got a good strike on the ball, but substitute Denmark keeper Cecilie Sørensen, who came on at halftime, flew to her right to push the ball away.
U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni made numerous subs in the second half, as the USA chased the game, sending on Rapinoe for Heather O'Reilly in the 54th minute, Kelley O'Hara for Meghan Klingenberg in the 60th minute inserting Becky Sauberbrunn into the midfield for Samantha Mewis in the 62nd minute and sent on Sarah Hagen and Abby Wambach in the last eight minutes as the USA switched to a three-front. The USA sent a few crosses flashing through the Denmark penalty area in the final minutes, and Lloyd had a hard strike from 15 yards blocked with two minutes left, but could not find an equalizer.
Denmark scored on another counter in the third minute of stoppage time. With the majority of the U.S. team pushed up the field, Denmark had a massive numerical advantage on the break and Karoline Nielsen finished her breakaway chance for the final margin.
It was the first time in the history of the U.S. WNT program that the team allowed five goals in a match. The back-to-back losses marked the first time the USA has lost consecutive games since the 2001 Algarve Cup; a 2-0 loss to Sweden in the group finale and a 4-3 loss to Norway in the fifth-place match.
The result puts the USA last in Group B; the team will now face Korea DPR in the tournament's seventh-place match on Wednesday, March 12, with the venue and kickoff times to be announced.