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January 22, 2012
U.S. rolls over another foe, Guatemala, 13-0, as Leroux strikes five times

By Michael Lewis Editor

Abby Wambach: "This is a statement that we're making to the rest of the world, we're making to our region, and we can't take any game for granted."
Abby Wambach: "This is a statement that we're making to the rest of the world, we're making to our region, and we can't take any game for granted."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
VANCOUVER -- A relentless United States team picked up where it left off against the Dominican Republic, rolling to a 13-0 triumph over Guatemala in the CONCACAF Olympic women's qualifying tournament on Sunday.

The Group B victory secured a spot for the Americans (2-0) in Friday's semifinals and set up a confrontation with Mexico (2-0), 7-0 winners over the Dominicans in the opening game of the doubleheader at BC Place. The U.S. needs a tie or a win to clinch first-place because of superior goal differential.

For the second consecutive game, a halftime sub led the American scoring parade. Sydney Leroux, who hails from the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, struck for five goals, equaling Amy Rodriguez's record for a CONCACAF final round qualifying mark that was set on Friday.

"This is a unique situation," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "It is astounding, coming off the bench and scoring so many goals like Amy Rodriguez did the other day.

"I'm so proud and happy to be around this team because it just never happened before. So many goals, great goals. I'm happy for the team. I'm happy for Syd, today. It's quality, for sure."

Striker Abby Wambach tallied the first two goals, raising her international total to 129. She has tallied a record 12 goals in the final CONCACAF qualifying record, one ahead of Canada's Christine Sinclair and Mexico's Maribel Dominguez.

She also reached 129 international goals, surpassing Germany great Brigit Prinz (128 goals) to move into third place on the women's all-time international scoring list behind retired U.S. legends Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130).

At one time the 31-year-old Wambach said he did not think she could catch Prinz.

"That's true -- I didn't. And I'm shocked that I have," she said. "The later on in our career, the stats do start piling up, and the awards come and all of it, but the truth is our team is playing well right now."

Rodriguez, who scored five goals in the second half of the 14-0 demolition of the Dominican Republic on Friday, added a goal to give her a tournament-best six.

The Americans looked like they were on a mission. They have frequently cited how they learned from their most recent qualifying competition, when they lost to Mexico in the semifinals, 2-1, and were forced to reach the 2011 Women's World Cup by beating Italy in a special playoff.

"We understand that 14-, 13-goal games can be looked down upon by some of our viewers, our fans, by fans of other countries," Wambach said. "But the truth is we didn't get our job done the last qualifying tournament, and this is a statement that we're making to the rest of the world, we're making to our region, and we can't take any game for granted. We have to play hard, play physical and respect the game. That's why the results are the results you've seen."

The first two group stage matches set an American record for 27 goals in two consecutive games. In fact, the Americans have scored more goals in their last two Olympic qualifiers than they scored in their previous seven games in the competition combined.

"I would look it as we are ready," Sundhage said. "If you look at today we struggled at the beginning. Something I said at half was, 'Look at the first 15 minutes, you canít take anything for granted. You have to bring it. They picked it up after the first 15-20 minutes. In the second half we played well. We had so many attacking personalities and our bench is strong. I am happy about that."

Wambach started the assault by striking in the 12th and 14th minutes. Right fullback Heather Mitts started the scoring sequence on Wambach's first goal, passing to Megan Rapinoe in the middle of the field outside of the penalty area. Rapinoe then sent a short through ball to Wambach, who went in unmarked and beat goalkeeper Maricruz Lemus from six yards.

Barely two minutes later, Wambach had a brace as she headed home Lauren Cheney's free kick from the left side from six yards for a 2-0 American advantage.

The Guatemalans came tantalizing close to cutting the lead in half in the 24th minute when Maria Monterroso's header hit the woodwork and bounded out of bounds.

Only 38 seconds later, the U.S. pulled away to a three-goal lead as Cheney lobbed Lemus from 12 yards.

Wambach turned playmaker in the 29th minute as she led Rodriguez with a pass on the left side. As four Guatemalans raced to catch up to Rodriguez, the USA striker powered a shot into the left side from 18 yards for a 4-0 lead.

The U.S. continued to attack the Central Americans' goal as midfielder Carli Lloyd headed in a Kelly O'Hara left-wing cross in the 33rd minute to make it 5-0 in the 34th minute.

In an almost identical play a minute later, Lori Lindsey headed home an O'Hara cross from six yards for the U.S.'s sixth goal. It was Lindsey's first international goal.

Showing that she was human, Wambach hit the woodwork not once, but twice within seconds in the 40th minute. She banged a right-footed shot off the crossbar. The ball came directly back to the Rochester, N.Y. native and she fired a shot that hit the right post. No, Wambach did not get an opportunity to aim for the left upright, at least not in that sequence.

At halftime, U.S. coach Pia Sundhage replaced starters Lloyd, Wambach and Cheney with Shannon Boxx, Leroux and Alex Morgan, respectively.

Le Roux turned into the Rodriguez of this match as she had a hat-trick only 12 minutes after entering the match, scoring three goals within a nine-minute span.

Leroux, who was booed when she was introduced at the start of the second half, put away a Morgan feed in the 48th minute, headed in a Rodriguez cross from the left flank in the 51st minute and slid a Moran feed from the right side past the keeper in the 57th minute for a 9-0 lead.

The Vancouver native added her fourth goal in the 70th minute as she headed in an O'Hara cross from the left side to take the tally to 10 goals.

Goal No. 11 came five minutes later as Megan Rapinoe scored and Morgan, off a Mitts feed, added a 12th goal as she had an easy tap-in when Lemus came out of the net in the 83rd minute.

Leroux scored goal No. 5 in the 87th minute as A-Rod beat her marker down the left side and slotted a pass to her for a 13-0 advantage.

"Of course, my teammates, they gave me some great balls and I put them away and did what I was supposed to do with them," she said. "It's been an amazing couple of weeks. I'm so blessed to be able to play with these girls. It has made me better every day. So, I give my thanks to them."

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