Morgan, Rapinoe find net as U.S. Women beat Ireland 2-0 in Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Forward Alex Morgan scored just 44 seconds into the match and midfielder Megan Rapinoe added a goal seven minutes before halftime as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated the Republic of Ireland for the second time in four days, winning 2-0 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in the seventh match of the 2012 Fan Tribute Tour.
U.S. captain Christie Rampone came off the bench for the first time this year, entering at halftime to earn her 273rd career cap. Playing right back, the position she started in many years ago when she debuted for the USA in 1998, Rampone moved past former U.S. captain Julie Foudy and into third place on the U.S. and world’s all-time caps list behind Kristine Lilly (352) and Mia Hamm (275).
The USA moved to 5-0-2 on the Fan Tribute Tour, a celebration of the team’s run to a fourth gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. With the win, the U.S. moved to 25-1-3 this year and extended their unbeaten streak to 20 games.
The USA will be in action next on Dec. 8 at Ford Field in Detroit to start a three-game series against China. The USA will also face China on Dec. 12 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston and Dec. 15 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.
Morgan, who scored a first-half hat trick in the USA’s 5-0 victory against Ireland last Wednesday in Portland, Ore., got the USA on the board with a lightning-fast strike just seconds after the opening whistle. Midfielder Lauren Cheney slipped a perfectly-weighted pass behind the Ireland defense into the left side of the box and Morgan made a dynamic run to get behind the ball before lashing a shot from 10 yards out past Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne and into the lower right corner.
Morgan’s goal upped her total in 2012 to a team-leading 28 scores, third-best in a calendar year behind only Abby Wambach, who scored 31 in 2004, and Michelle Akers, who holds the record with 39 in 1991.
Rapinoe doubled the USA’s lead in the 28th minute when former Arizona State All-American Amy LePeilbet played a long ball down the left wing to the streaking Morgan. The fleet forward took the ball all the way to the end line before cutting a pass back into the center of the box to the crashing Rapinoe. She hit her shot first-time from 14 yards, past the wrong-footed Byrne, off the leg of a scrambling defender and into the net.
The assist was Morgan’s team-leading 19th of the year and gives her the fourth-most in a single year in U.S. history. Hamm had 22 assists in the final year of her career in 2004 and Carin Gabarra had 21 in 1991. Hamm also had 20 assists in 1998. Those are the only three times a U.S. player has reached or surpassed 20 assists in a calendar year.
Ireland played with a bit more verve than they showed in Portland, but the Americans dominated possession and territory in front of 11,570 appreciative fans. The USA out shot Ireland 17-2 and the Irish managed just one shot on goal.
The score would have been much higher if not for some heroics from the six-foot Byrne, who made five spectacular saves in the second half, three of them on excellent efforts from Carli Lloyd.
In the 51st minute, the Irish ‘keeper dove to push Lloyd shot from distance around the post. Two minutes later, Byrne kick-saved a 10-yard shot from Lloyd after she had played a clever give-and-go with Abby Wambach that freed her up deep in the penalty area.
In the 62nd minute, Lloyd returned the favor and played Wambach into the box with a great slipped pass. Wambach cut back to lose a defender and fired hard at Byrne, but she made another good save, knocking the ball down before falling on it.
Byrne made her best save in the 67th minute after Lloyd hit a drive from 30 yards out that was surely headed into the upper right corner. The longtime Arsenal Ladies ‘keeper fully extended herself and just got a piece of the ball, pushing it off the crossbar in a spectacular piece of goalkeeping.
U.S. forward Sydney Leroux, who graduated from high school in Arizona, came into the match in the 59th minute and almost delighted her hometown crowd in the 75th, but once again Byrne was there to save her team. Rampone raced past two defenders down the right flank and crossed back on the ground to Leroux, whose shot to the near post was scooped away by Byrne.
Amy Rodriguez earned her 99th career cap and should get her 100th in Detroit on Dec 8. She would become the 28th female player in U.S. history to join the Century Club. U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath missed the match to attend her sister’s wedding, and Heather O’Reilly was not available to play due to flu-like symptoms.
The match marked the first time in the 508-match history of the U.S. Women’s National Team that three goalkeepers played in a single game. Hope Solo started, before giving way in the 22nd minute to 2012 Olympic alternate Jill Loyden, who played the reminder of the first half, and then Nicole Barnhart was in net for the final 45 minutes.
-U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Republic of Ireland
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Arizona
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MT
Weather: 69 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
IRL 0 0 0
USA – Alex Morgan (Lauren Cheney) 1st minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Alex Morgan) 38
USA: 1-Hope Solo (21-Jill Loyden, 22; 18-Nicole Barnhart, 46); 2-Heather Mitts (3-Christie Rampone, 46), 16-Rachel Buehler, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 6-Amy LePeilbet; 15-Megan Rapinoe (8-Amy Rodriguez, 59), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney; 13-Alex Morgan (11-Sydney Leroux, 59), 14-Abby Wambach (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 5-Kelley O’Hara
Head coach: Jill Ellis
IRL: 1-Emma Byrne; 7-Mary Therese McDonnell, 3-Megan Campbell, 4-Louise Quinn, 14-Shannon McDonnell; 11-Aine O’Gorman, 6-Niamh Fahey, 18-Ciara Grant (2-Sophie Perry, 46), 10-Julie Ann Russell (15-Ruesha Littlejohn, 58), 13-Diane Caldwell; 12-Denise O’Sullivan (17-Shannon Smyth, 46)
Subs Not Used: 5-Yvonne Tracey, 8-Meabh De Burca, 16-Eve Gbadana
Head coach: Sue Ronan
Stats Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 17 / 2
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 1 / 6
Corner Kicks: 11 / 1
Fouls: 7 / 13
Offside: 5 / 2
IRL – Sophie Perry (caution) 81st minute
IRL – Niamh Fahey (caution) 88
Referee: Kristen Schiereck (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Veronica Perez (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Amanda Ross (USA)
Fourth Official: Kari Seitz (USA)
Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd