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April 3, 2012
US Women blitz Brazil, 3-0

Shannon Boxx scored the USA’s second goal against Brazil on Tuesday.
Shannon Boxx scored the USA’s second goal against Brazil on Tuesday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHIBA, Japan - The U.S. Women's National Team scored on three set plays to defeat Brazil 3-0 in its second and final match of the Kirin Challenge Cup at Fukuda Denshi Arena. The match kicked off four hours earlier than scheduled due to impending inclement weather.

Although the players and few fans in attendance escaped the worst of the predicted heavy weather, rain came down in sheets during warm-ups, and players labored through high winds and scattered showers throughout. The inclement conditions hardly hampered the U.S. Women. Abby Wambach hit the crossbar in the first minute, and the team led 2-0 at the half after rapid-fire goals by Carli Lloyd and Shannon Boxx.

Lloyd opened the scoring off Christie Rampone’s free kick after Wambach was taken down near midfield in the 18th minute. Rampone lofted the ball deep into the penalty area, where it deflected off defender Rachel Buehler in a crowd and fell to Lloyd for a close-range finish.

Five minutes later, Boxx got position on her defender off the far post and cleanly headed Lauren Cheney’s right-side free kick past netminder Barbara to make the score 2-0. The halftime score might have been more lopsided had Wambach not sent an open header wide of the net in the 33rd minute and Barbara not come up with a clutch one-on-one save on Heather O’Reilly in the 41st.

The pace slowed a bit after the intermission, but substitute Amy Rodriguez came through with a final goal for the USA in the 83rd minute, after being fouled outside the penalty area. Cheney once again stepped up to the dead ball, finding Wambach in the goal area. Wambach chested the ball down but could not control it. The loose ball deflected off a Brazilian defender and fell to Rodriguez for the finish.

"Playing against Brazil is always good," said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. "I think in the first half the speed of play was good and we scored two good goals on set pieces, which is something we talk about and prepare the team for. At halftime, we made some changes because we wanted some players to get some minutes against a very good team. Overall, I am happy with the tournament. Playing Japan and Brazil in April as preparation for the Olympics is very good for this team."

Brazil, playing without five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Marta, failed to capitalize on their relatively few chances, and suffered a blow when Cristiane’s apparent header goal at the half-hour mark was called back after the assistant referee ruled that Formiga’s service from deep on the right side had curled out of bounds before sailing back into the goalmouth. U.S. netminder Hope Solo was rarely called into service, making her only save in stoppage time.

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