June 18, 2012
Abby and Alex lead US Women past Japan, 4-1
HALMSTAD, Sweden-- The U.S. Women's National Team picked up a big win in its second-to-last exhibition match before the 2012 Olympics, defeating Japan 4-1 Monday behind two-goal efforts by both Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. The victory gave the USA the Volvo Winners Cup title regardless of the outcome of the remaining match in the tournament, between Japan and Sweden on June 20 in Gothenburg.
|Abby Wambach scored her 137th and 138th international goals in Monday’s 4-1 win over Japan.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The US Women scored on two of their first three shots of the game, beginning with a strike by Morgan in the third minute, and outshot the 2011 Women’s World Cup champions 19-9 overall, with an 11-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Wambach made the score 2-0 in the tenth minute, and although Japan pulled one back before the intermission, Morgan and Wambach both connected again in the second half to complete the rout.
"I think we had the ability to play to a lot of strengths today" said U.S. WNT head coach Pia Sundhage. "Abby had a great game, Alex Morgan had a great game as well, and so did the midfield. We changed the wing players a little bit [from the Sweden game] and we dominated the midfield which is a hard thing to do against Japan, who keeps the ball all the time. I think they were dangerous, but we also controlled the game for the most part and in the defense as well. The back four did a great job with the six up front."
The first U.S. goal came off a long kick from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo that was flicked on by Wambach with her head to Tobin Heath. The skillful midfielder collected and then played a perfectly weighted pass through to Morgan, who took a touch and smashed a left-footed shot over Japanese netminder Ayumi Kaihori from the left side of the penalty area.
Wambach doubled the US lead off a turnover deep in Japan’s defensive third. Megan Rapinoe ended up with the ball on the left flank, and she drove a cross into the goal area that Wambach slid in to propel into the net.
Japan got brief life off a 28th-minute corner kick. While the initial service was cleared, Aya Miyama controlled the ball on the left side and whipped in a perfect first-time cross to the near post that was met by Yuki Nagasato on a flying header.
The third US goal, in the 61st minute, was all Morgan. The US forward picked off a pass in the back, burned past three Japan defenders into the right side of the penalty area and cut a right-footed shot at an angle back across the goal and into the left corner past Kaihori from just outside the right side of the goal box.
The US got their fourth and final goal more than two minutes into stoppage time, off 68th-minute substitute Heather O'Reilly’s cross from the right side. Her service was blocked up in the air, but she was able to volley the falling ball just over the head of defender Aya Sameshima. The ball bounced in front of the goal and Wambach was able to get inside her defender to head it down, with the ball grazing her left shoulder as it slipped into the lower left corner from just inside the six yard box.
Both of US goalkeeper Hope Solo’s saves came in the second half. In the 70th minute, Mizuho Sakaguchi hit a screamer that Solo pushed off the top of the crossbar. Five minutes later, Japan captain Miyama also got some pepper on a shot from distance that Solo had to turn away with a diving save to her right.
The U.S. team will have a week-long break before their Olympic Send-Off game on June 30 against Canada at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (2 pm ET, NBC).