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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

May 17, 2015
LEROUX STRIKES FOR U.S.
Scores two against Mexico, so does Wambach

By Scott French
LA Soccer News Contributing Editor

Sydney Leroux scored twice in the U.S. Women's National Team's 5-1 win over Mexico
Sydney Leroux scored twice in the U.S. Women's National Team's 5-1 win over Mexico
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CARSON, Calif. -- Sydney Leroux celebrated her first start of 2015 with a pair of goals, and Abby Wambach came off the bench to notch the 40th multigoal game of her international career Sunday night as the U.S. women's national team built toward the coming Women's World Cup with an emphatic triumph over Mexico.

Leroux scored in the 28th and 61st minutes, Wambach in the 58th and 72nd, and Lori Chalupny netted the go-ahead goal on her first touch of the game as the Yanks pulled away to a 5-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center.

The Canadian-born Leroux, a former UCLA star who switched from her native land's national team programs to the U.S. nearly a decade ago, during her mid-teens -- her mother is Canadian, her father American -- looked sharp in her first start since a foot injury in January forced her off the field for nearly two months.

“She's been battling injuries, she got herself fit, and coming into this camp, I just sensed the focus in her,” said U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who brought Leroux to UCLA. “She's been training really well, deserved the start, and I thought she did great. Settled into the game, [played] 90 minutes, and that's big for her, because she's been working her way back into fitness. It was huge.”

Leroux, whose mother was in attendance, tallied twice from abrupt angles, first after beating Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago along the left channel from Megan Rapinoe's through ball, which she chipped inside the far post from the left byline, and then from far on the right of the box after beating Santiago from Morgan Brian's through ball.

She made her case for a starting role in Canada, where the U.S. opens Group D play June 8 against Australia in Winnipeg. Wambach, Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan, Palos Verdes Estates' Christen Press, and Lake Forest's Amy Rodriguez also are fighting for playing time up top.

“Anytime I get on the field, anytime any of us get on the field, it's our time to make a statement,” Leroux said. “I'm happy we got the win, and it felt good to come out and score a few goals tonight.”

The U.S. dominated play, as expected, but a superb showing by Santiago and Ariana Calderon's goal late in the first half kept Mexico in contention until halftime.

The Americans' precision arrived after that, once Wambach, Chalupny and Christie Rampone entered. Chalupny scored about 33 seconds into the second half, straight off the kickoff, from Wambach's poke backward after Mexico's defense blocked two shots in the box.

Wambach converted a penalty kick in the 58th minute, after Charlyn Corral handled Rapinoe's corner kick into the Mexican box; Leroux added the fourth three minutes later; and Wambach got her second of the night -- and world-record 182nd (in 241 international appearances) -- by nodding home a Tobin Heath chip from the left byline.

Rapinoe scored off the left post in the 89th minute, but the goal was waved off because she'd handled the ball, just above the Mexico box, before shooting.

The Yanks might have another four or five if not for Santiago, who stopped Rapinoe one-on-one in the 10th minute and on two point-blank shots a minute later, then saved Lauren Holiday and Rapinoe shots -- the first with her face -- in the 43rd.

In addition, former Stanford star Alina Garciamendez made two saves, the first on the goal line from a Brian shot in the 14th minute, and Carli Lloyd headed a Brian cross off the crossbar in the 32nd. And the U.S. worked into Mexico's box without getting off a shot on several occasions while building a 29-6 shot advantage.

Leroux gave the U.S. the lead on a break, beating Santiago on the dribble from a Rapinoe through ball and flicking it into the right-post side netting as she reached the left byline.

The U.S. should have added more and instead watched Mexico catch them in the 39th, when Calderon stepped in front of Becky Sauerbrunn to power Bianca Sierra's free kick past goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The U.S. has one last tuneup before heading to Canada, against South Korea in Harrison, N.J., on May 30.
   
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