Category Archives: Amy Rodriguez

USWNT vs. CanWNT: Wambach & Morgan were Left Unmarked and Made Canada Pay

The United States concluded their post-2011 Women’s World Cup Celebration Series tour against Canada with a 3-0 victory. Both friendlies were played in front of incredible crowds; Megan Rapinoe joked earlier in the week that the fanfare has been like if the WWC runner-ups had actually won the title.  18,570 strong serenaded the team with chants of “U-S-A” at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon, as did 16,191 at the first friendly in Kansas City, Kansas last Saturday (1-1 draw).

Similar to the previous game, the USWNT lined up in a new 4-2-3-1. As promised, Pia Sundhage featured all 21 players over the two friendlies, a full strength roster from the WWC. Notably in the starting XI, the experiment with Amy Rodriguez as a left winger continued, while Shannon Boxx and Lori Lindsey replaced Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney as holding midfielders. Stephanie Cox stepped in for Amy LePeilbet and Becky Sauerbrunn slide over from her usual role in central defence to the outside right.

John Herdman, who is playing without two of Canada’s regular starters Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman, switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 and made two changes to his starting lineup from the first friendly, with Lexi Marton in place of Emily Zurrer and Karina LeBlanc in goal for Erin McLeod. Herdman’s fourth ‘keeper, 22 year-old Justine Bernier, was the only one of the 22 player roster not to see playing time. New talent was introduced as three players received their first senior caps during the two friendlies.

The US peppered the Canadian 18-yard box with dangerous crosses and well paced shots throughout the match, but were upstaged by great Canadian goalkeeping from Karina LeBlanc in the first half and Stephanie Labbé in the second.

Canada was kept deep on defensive duties for much of the game, but Melissa Tancredi got an early opportunity when she fended off a couple defenders before sending the ball over the net.

LeBlanc made her first of several great saves in the 17th minute. Abby Wambach started the play when she blocked Sophie Schmidt’s cross, which fell to Rapinoe. She was able to advance the ball up field before laying it off to Wambach, whose ensuing cross was met by an unmarked Rodriguez.  Her side-footed shot from point blank range was denied by a one-handed save.

About 10 minutes later, Heather O’Reilly led the charge forward when she beat Diana Matheson to send in a cross. Lauren Sesselmann was in a great position to block Christie Rampone’s initial shot. Her far post rebound was grabbed in the air by LeBlanc, who then sparked the Canadian attack with her goal kick. The bouncing ball eluded Rachel Buehler and fell favourably for Tancredi. Her header into space allowed her to turn and shoot, but the low bouncing ball went just wide to the right of Hope Solo.

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The USWNT & CanWNT Battled in a Scrappy 1-1 Draw

The first of the two-game friendly series between the United States and Canada resulted in a 1-1 draw in front of a near capacity crowd of 16,191 packed into Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Boisterous fans created a lively atmosphere to welcome home their Women’s World Cup heroes, whose performance in this summer’s tournament ignited interest all over the US. Of the three friendlies played at home in 2011 prior to the WWC, two took place in comparatively large stadiums, like Red Bull Arena (25,000 capacity) and Columbus Crew Stadium (20,000 capacity), but had only managed to draw attendance merely in the 5,000s.

The situation for both teams couldn’t be more different: the USWNT was playing with the exact same group who recently propelled themselves to newfound celebrity status, and a coach whose unwavering loyalty to a particular formation and players have drawn cries for change and ingenuity from fans and commentators alike; in contrast, the CanWNT was playing under a new coaching staff following a sorrowful WWC with new players and new tactics.

September 17 was to be a battle of old and new. Yet, surprisingly, both teams stepped onto the pitch to test new strategies.

Pia Sundhage implemented a 4-2-3-1 for the match, a departure from her favoured 4-4-2.  The USWNT coach expressed her hopes of adding another dimension of unpredictability to the attack. Sundhage experimented by moving Lauren Cheney and Carli Lloyd, both of whom normally occupy more offensive roles, back to act as deep-lying midfielders. She was quick to point out that the pair would be “possession midfielders” as opposed to holding midfielders. Still in search for the team’s true No. 10, the Swede had Megan Rapinoe assume that role in the starting XI. The new formation was to emphasize play in the centre of midfield, but the US still found the most success attacking from the wings, especially in the first half.

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Thoughts on the United States' 2-1 Victory Over China

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe Was Sensational for the U.S. in Saturday's Win

The Good

-The Real Megan Rapinoe was on the pitch in Atlanta on Saturday night. Chicago Red Stars fans are probably cursing their fate as the jaded and inconsistent player of WPS form was nowhere in sight on Saturday. This Rapinoe was a constant terror down the left (or right when she switched flanks with HAO), making surging runs down the flank or cutting inside while also defending well from the front, forcing some of the Chinese defenders into mistakes. Rapinoe took her goal well to give the U.S the early lead and had an opportunity to add a second in the second half that was kicked away by Chinese keeper Huang Luna.
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We're Entering the 347th Minute and It's Still Scoreless…

Photo courtesy of Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com

The Philadelphia/Washington match-up was always going to be characterized by one adjective: laborious. And was it ever. 

Both teams worked hard throughout the 120 minutes (more on this in a bit). But perhaps it was the viewer who worked the hardest, as there were many sequences in the match that rigorously tested one’s attention span. Possession kept getting knotted up in midfield and neither team managed to find a consistent rhythm. And then there were the missed chances. Dozens of them, it seemed. 

Washington had a decent first half and controlled the flanks reasonably well. Philadelphia, on the other hand, were dead set on sending the ball up the middle and hoping that Amy Rodriguez could convert something out of nothing. Still, neither side looked very threatening. 

The second half resumed and Washington vowed to play in a more attacking formation, subbing off fullback Becca Moros for forward Lene Mykjaland at the half. Anita Asante was shifted from midfield to the back line. Despite Asante’s best efforts, Washington paid dearly for this. Philadelphia was the aggressor for the rest of the match. Amy Rodriguez, Tina DiMartino and Caroline Seger troubled Washington’s back four and would have easily put the game to bed had it not been for one person: the USWNT’s #1 in waiting, Ashlyn Harris.  

Sensing trouble, Jim Gabarra demoted the industrious and dependable Sonia Bompastor to left-back. She made three tremendous saves that rivaled the brilliant work of her goalkeeper and kept the Freedom alive. Abby Wambach was uncharacteristically anonymous in the second interval, as was Nikki Marshall. 

It’s never good when a team’s goalkeeper gets more time on the ball than a team’s star striker. But the Freedom were in good hands. The rookie Harris seemed utterly unflappable, even as her back line continued to falter. By the end of the second half, Washington’s defense had apparently sent out a hospitable invitation to Philadelphia’s front six players for tea and biscuits in the final third. But Harris wasn’t having any of it. Her one-handed aerial stop of Lori Lindsey’s close-range effort could have perhaps won the game. 

The score remained 0-0 at the end of regulation. 30 minutes of extra time would commence and perhaps it was tired legs or maybe a lapse of concentration, but both teams seemed content with penalty kicks. The intensity that characterized the match for much of the second half had cooled down considerably. Philadelphia kept on the attack, albeit at a much slower clip while Washington’s attack remained non-existent. 

And then it happened. 120′ after the first whistle indicated kick off and 30 seconds before the final whistle would indicate penalty kicks, Amy Rodriguez totally pulled an Abby Wambach. Tina DiMartino slipped Rodriguez a pass in the box and Rodriguez calmly put it past Harris. Rodriguez had been frustrated by either Harris, the post or poor technique throughout the entire game. But not at that moment. She snapped her six-week goal-scoring drought with what will surely be one of the most significant goals of her life. 

Rodriguez’s 12 regular season goals proved she’s no fluke. Her team’s surprising postseason appearance proved that she isn’t damaged goods. Her extra time goal to send her team through to the penultimate match before the WPS Championship game proves that she’s a stellar striker who can change games when it matters most. That’s what elite athletes do and in this moment, Amy Rodriguez is a member of the elite. 

And if things go her way in five days, perhaps Tony DiCicco will agree.

Rodriguez, Philadelphia Continue To Write Story of the Season

Last night’s stunning comeback victory against the Washington Freedom added yet another twist to the fantastic tale that is that of the Philadelphia Independence. The 3-2 win elevates the Indies/PHIINDY/the Cheesesteaks’ to 21 points, just one point behind FC Gold Pride who host Sky Blue FC in a few hours. The victory also furthers the chasm in the standings between them and the Washington Freedom who are now five points behind Philadelphia.

The Freedom’s disastrous second-half collapse in which they conceded all three goals is an indicator of just how dangerous this Philadelphia team can be. After a flat first half that saw both Lene Mykaland score after just 45 seconds and Abby Wambach bury a penalty, Philadelphia came roaring back with inspiration and endeavor. Amy Rodriguez hit two goals in quick succession before Lianne Sanderson beat Erin McLeod in the 92’. Their efforts were duly rewarded as they earned their fourth result in five matches.

If there’s one player who deserves the spoils of this victory, it has to be Amy Rodriguez. After all, she scored Philadelphia’s opening two goals in trademark A-Rod fashion. For the first, Tina DiMartino found Rodriguez behind the defense and the striker made the most of it with a one-timed left-footed shot across goal. Just ten minutes later, Jen Buczkowski found Rodriguez over the top once again. After a touch, Rodriguez dispatched a low shot into the back of the net.

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