The U.S. Women’s National Team overcame a subpar first half to defeat Iceland 3-0 with all three goals coming in the second half. U.S. defender Rachel Buehler tallied in her 100th career cap and forward Abby Wambach’s 154th goal moved her closer to Mia Hamm’s all-time international scoring record during a 3-0 victory against Iceland. Those two scores were sandwiched around Shannon Boxx’s 27 th career goal.
It was the seventh year in a row the USA has won its Algarve Cup opener, but it was not easy against a physical Iceland team that played low pressure on the front line while pushing its backs high, which severely compacted the space in the midfield.
While the Americans struggled to connect passes and find an attacking rhythm in the first half, the USA scored almost exactly two minutes into the second.
The U.S. team earned a corner kick almost right off the kickoff and Lauren Cheney drilled her service on a line into the pack of players. Buehler was making a hard run through the middle and as the ball came across her body, she perfectly redirected the ball with a header into the right corner.
It was just the fourth goal of Buehler’s international career, and while it was not the most dramatic — she scored in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup against Korea DPR) — it was certainly emotional and important. Her fantastic header jump-started the USA’s attack to score three times, which may prove crucial in a group stage where goal difference often plays a critical role in who advances to the championship game.
The USA made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute off another corner kick. This time Cheney’s cross came perilously close to flying into the net before Boxx got a head on the ball at the far post, sending it back into the middle. Iceland cleared, but not far enough, and Christie Rampone came flying in to head the ball back into the mixer and back to Boxx, who jumped high to loop her six-yard header back across the goal from near the right post and into the left side of the goal.
Wambach scored one of the easiest goals of her career in the 74th minute, but the hard work was done by Morgan. The speedy forward raced into the right side of the penalty area to beat Iceland goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir to a loose ball, poking it under the sliding goalkeeper to Wambach, who was alone in the middle to stroke home her shot from close range.
The goal moves Wambach to within four goals of tying Mia Hamm on the world’s all-time international scoring list and just five from passing Hamm’s mark of 158 set during her legendary career that spanned 1987-2004.
U.S. goalkeeper Jill Loyden made her third career start while earning her sixth career cap, but didn’t have much work over the 90 minutes, as she was called on to make just one save, that a collapse dive to her right in the 18th minute to snag a header off a free kick.
The USA had only six shots in the first half, but doubled that number in the second and came close to scoring on several occasions. Carli Lloyd pulled a full-out dive from Helgadttir with a strike from the top of the box at the right side, but it skipped just wide of the left post.
Wambach just missed scoring a spectacular diving header in the first half when the ball grazed off the top of her head as she went horizontal in the air chasing a Cheney free kick. In the 34th minute, Wambach had the USA’s best chance of the first half when she powered a header on goal off a corner kick, but it was saved well by Helgadóttir before her defenders cleared.
Morgan had several chances to open her 2013 account, including two in the waning moments of the first half. In the 44th minute a corner kick from the right side was headed back across the goal and Morgan got a solid piece of the ball, only to send it over the net. Seconds later she finally got loose in the penalty area from an Iceland team that battered her the entire match, but cut her half-volley wide right of the goal from 12 yards out.
In the 54th minute, Wambach found Morgan sprinting into the penalty area with a great long pass over the top of the Iceland defense, but she blasted her full volley high over the net. Morgan came close against in the 61st minute after she worked herself free from two defenders in the left side of the penalty area, but Helgadottir made a nice save with a dive to her right to push the right-footed shot away for a corner kick.
Heather O’Reilly did some hard running from right midfield for the USA all game long and earned the majority of the USA’s seven corner kicks on the afternoon. Former U.S. Under-20 star Crystal Dunn, who earned her first career cap at the senior level against Scotland on Feb. 13 in Nashville, Tenn., made her first career start, going the full 90 minutes at right back.
U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni made just one substitute in the game, sending on Christen Press for Carli Lloyd in the 64th minute.
The USA continues group play against China PR on March 8 back at the Municipal Stadium in Albufeira. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET and fans can watch the match on TV or online via Pay-Per-View.
The Algarve Cup is being distributed in the United States by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, Avail-TVN, DIRECTV and DISH for a suggested retail price of only $14.95 per match. Additional same day replays will be available. Check with your Pay-Per-View provider for replay times. Fans can visit Integratedsportsnet.com for updates on TV coverage.
Fans can also watch the matches online via Pay-Per-View. For web-streaming information go to http://www.ustream.tv/integratedsportsppv. Fans can also follow the match via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
- As is tradition on the U.S. team, Rachel Buehler wore the captain’s armband in her 100th cap. She earned her 100th cap in the same tournament and in the same stadium where she earned her first cap in 2008 against China.
- When Christen Press came on in the 64th minute for Carli Lloyd, she moved to left midfield and Lauren Cheney moved into the middle to take Lloyd’s spot.
- Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, who arrived late into training camp due to a match with their French clubs and participated in just one training session, did not see action.
- The USA is riding a 26-game unbeaten streak since the last loss, which came to Japan on March 5 at the 2012 Algarve Cup in Portugal. The U.S. has scored 83 goals while allowing 20 in 23 wins and three ties.
- As U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni made just one substitute in the game, that sets the stage for possibly using a group of fresh players against China on March 8 in the USA’s next Group B match.
- Shannon Boxx’s 27th career goal came in her 183rd career cap.
-U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Iceland
Date: March 6, 2013
Competition: 2013 Algarve Cup; Group B
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Albufeira, Portugal
Kickoff: 2 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET
Weather: 63 degrees, sunny, windy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
ISL 0 0 0
USA – Rachel Buehler (Lauren Cheney) 48th minute
USA – Shannon Boxx (Christie Rampone) 62
USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan) 74
USA : 21-Jill Loyden; 6-Crystal Dunn, 19-Rachel Buehler (capt.), 3-Christie Rampone, 5-Kelley O’Hara; 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (23-Christen Press, 64), 12-Lauren Cheney; 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach
Substitutions Not Used: 2-Sydney Leroux, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 8-Kristie Mewis, 11-Ali Krieger, 14-Whitney Engen, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 16-Yael Averbuch, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 22-Lindsey Horan, 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head coach: Tom Sermanni
ISL: 1-Thóra Helgadóttir; 2-Sif Atladóttir, 5-Hallbera Gudný Gísladóttir, 13-Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir, 10-Dóra María Lárusdóttir, 6-Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir (22-Sandra María Jessen, 64), 7-Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir (capt.) (20-Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir, 83), 11-Katrín Ómarsdóttir (4-Edda Gardarsdóttir,73), 14-Dagný Brynjarsdóttir (15-Gudný Ódinsdóttir, 79), 9-Fanndís Fridriksdóttir (3-Rakel Hönnudóttir, 46), 18-Harpa Thorsteinsdóttir (23-Elín Metta Jensen, 73)
Substitutions Not Used: 8-Katrín Jónsdóttir, 12-Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir, 16-Birna Kristjánsdóttir, 17-Ólína Gudbjörg Vidarsdóttir, 19-Mist Edvardsdóttir, 21-Elísa Vidarsdóttir
Head coach: Sigurdur Eyjolfsson
Stats Summary: USA / ISL
Shots: 18 / 4
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 7 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 16
Offside: 7 / 2
Referee: Fusako Kajiyama (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Allyson Flynn (AUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Saori Takahashi (JPN)
Fourth Official: Salome Di Iorio (ARG)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Heather O’Reilly