May 14, 2011
A-TEAM LIFTS USA
Abby Wambach, Amy Rodriguez score in 2-0 win
COLUMBUS, Ohio – First half goals by Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez gave the U.S. Women’s National Team a 2-0 win over Japan in front of 5,234 fans at Columbus Crew Stadium Saturday. The win extended the U.S.’s domestic unbeaten streak to 49 games.
|Amy Rodriguez scored her 16th international goal in the USA’s 2-0 win over Japan.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Wambach’s goal came in the 29th minute off a set play after she was bowled over from behind about 20 yards inside the Japanese defensive half. Right back Ali Krieger took the free kick and launched a perfect far post cross to Wambach, who rose to snap a header from seven yards into the upper left corner while jumping over a defender and just a second before Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori crashed into her.
It was Wambach’s 118th career goal and first since Nov. 8, 2010, against Costa Rica during CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying. The USA is now 77-1-2 all-time in matches in which Wambach scores.
The USA made it 2-0 in the 37th minute after a quick series of passes sprung Heather O’Reilly down the right side. She veered slightly into the middle as she dribbled for about 30 yards, then played a pass out to Wambach. Wambach took a touch and then spun a near post pass on the ground for Rodriguez, who met the ball first-time with her left foot, pushing her shot off the right post, behind the diving Kaihori and over the line.
“If you look at the first 25 minutes, I don’t think it was good soccer from our side,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “They kept possession and so forth. But, we stayed composed and we came back and the fact that we picked up the rhythm a little bit makes me happy. You don’t have to play beautiful soccer for 90 minutes but you need to be smart enough to find a way to play such good soccer so you can win the game. I think that we did that in the second half and partly late in the first half.”
In the 25th minute, the first good attacking sequence from the U.S. got Wambach into the left side of the penalty area. Her driven shot was knocked down by Kaihori and a defender slid to clear the ball away in front of a crashing Rodriguez. The clearance went back to Wambach outside the left edge of the penalty area and she sent a cross back into the middle that was brought down well by Heather O’Reilly, but her half-volley was scooped up by Kaihori on a collapsing dive.
Solo made her first starting since recovering from major shoulder surgery last September, making three saves to earn her 51st career shutout.
Just seconds into second half the USA almost put the game away when Shannon Boxx worked herself free in the right side of the penalty box after receiving a nice pass from halftime substitute Lindsay Tarpley. The shot from Boxx was deflected shot and then pushed away by Kaihori. Another halftime substitute, Tobin Heath, had a swing at it, but only got a small piece of the ball and Kaihori saved it again before it was cleared away.
Lauren Cheney, who came on in the 64th minute for Rodriguez, had a good chance in the 73rd after she got behind a Japanese defender into the left side of the penalty box. Her close range shot from the sharpest of angles almost right on the end line was knocked down and then smothered by the goalkeeper.
Tarpley, a veteran of two Olympic Games and the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team, went down a knee injury with about 15 minutes left. She will be evaluated further before the team leaves Columbus.
The U.S. plays Japan again in Cary, N.C., at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. ET. (ESPN2).