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.
Tancredi was fouled by Buehler upon her next venture up field in the 31st minute. Matheson’s free kick flew beyond the crowd of players waiting in the penalty area and was easily headed away.
The frame of the net was a curse and a saviour for both teams beginning in the 33rd minute. Wambach drew the attention of four Canadian players before threading a through ball to Rapinoe. LeBlanc wasn’t able to come off her line in time to smother the ball, but Rapinoe’s chip went off the crossbar. The Canadian defence was in position again to block a shot when Marton got in the way of Wambach’s rebound. Six minutes later, Rapinoe rattled the crossbar in the exact same spot with a shot from distance.
Canada would close out the first half with an attacking opportunity when Tancredi received Kelly Parker’s pass, but her shot trickled to Solo. The US, too, saw another wasted chance when Boxx’s shot glanced just high.
Schmidt continued her ways at masterfully forcing turnovers. She dispossessed second half substitute Tobin Heath and sent a great pass up field to Christina Julien. Julien went 1v1 against Rampone, but opted to wait for backup instead of taking a shot herself and the opportunity fizzled.
In the 48th minute, Parker received the ball from across the field by Sesselmann. Parker’s ensuing cross into the 6-yard box set up an opportunity for Julien. Solo was beaten by Julien’s volley, but the woodwork would deny once again.
We had a few glimpses of Heath using her technique to her advantage. In the 53rd minute, she trapped the ball with her chest, touched it over Rhian Wilkinson and then beat Marton to get off a right footed shot that seemed destined for the back of the net. LeBlanc’s replacement, Labbé, made a huge diving save that left Wambach with her hands on her head in disbelief.
Julien sent a perfectly weighted ball over the top for Tancredi in the 58th minute. Tancredi stayed shoulder-to-shoulder with her defender, but her soft header was picked up by Loyden, who replaced Solo about 12 minutes into the second half. A minute later, Wambach threatened the Canadian net with a cross by Heather Mitts (second half substitute) when she towered over Labbé, but sent the ball wide.
The goal scoring started when Canada lost its defensive focus. Sesselmann cleared the ball to Desiree Scott, who subbed in for Kaylyn Kyle, near the sideline but Kelley O’Hara, Rodriguez’s replacement, poked the ball away before Scott could turn. Wambach was left wide open at the top of the box and struck an unstoppable ball to the far post up high, making it 1-0 63 minutes into the match. Wambach tied her previous continuous goal scoring record with her 6th consecutive goal in a game.
Wambach attempted another shot on goal a few minutes later, but was denied at the near post by Labbé. Then, substitute Cheney’s well weighted ball to O’Hara produced a cross to Wambach, who found the back of the net a second time when she was left unmarked once again and jumped over Wilkinson’s back to head in the ball.
Canada’s last chance on net came in the 73rd minute. Schmidt’s shot was too high.
With the introduction of Alex Morgan in the 77th minute, the US switched to a 4-4-2 with Wambach and Morgan up top. Five minutes later, her near post shot forced a save from Labbé. The ensuing corner kick was sent back towards the net, but Wilkinson’s sub, Robyn Gayle, was there to clear the ball off the line.
In stoppage time, Labbé denied Mitts a goal. The Canadian defence would become its own worst enemy once again; the corner kick that followed fell to Heath, who put the ball back into the mix and Cheney’s downward header was tapped into the net by Morgan. She was left unmarked in the 6-yard box for the duration of the corner kick. Final score, 3-0 USA.
This match marked a number of milestones. It was the 50th meeting between the North American rivals, with the US holding a skewed 42W, 3L, 5D advantage. Also, although Solo earned her 100th cap during the WWC, she was officially honoured yesterday in a pre-game ceremony and wore the captain’s armband during her time on the field. Similar to the 2011 WWC days, Wambach and Morgan were both trending worldwide on Twitter following the match. For Canada, 21 year-old Tina Romagnuolo earned her first senior cap when she replaced Matheson in the 81st minute (and was later greeted by a hard tackle from Wambach for which a yellow card was issued to the American).
Both teams will take a break before regrouping later in the fall. The US will be back in camp in November and will face Sweden November 19 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Further details on the game will be released at a later date.
Canada will begin preparations for the 2011 PanAmerican Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in less than two week’s time. They will face Costa Rica (October 18 at 12pm ET), Argentina (October 20 at 11am ET) and Brazil (October 22 at 9pm ET) in group play. The final PanAm roster will be released on Monday, September 26.
The US and Canada, along with Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and two teams from Central America who are yet to qualify, are preparing for the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers January 19-29 in Vancouver, BC at BC Place. Two teams will represent the region at the Summer Olympic Games in London.
Sauerbrunn – Rampone – Buehler – Cox
Lindsey – Boxx
O’Reilly – Rapinoe – Rodgriguez
Wilkinson – Marton – Moscato – Sesselmann
Matheson – Kyle
Tancredi – Julien
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: Sept. 22, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: JELD-WEN Field; Portland, Ore.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. PT
Weather: 68 degrees – clear and warm
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
CAN 0 0 0
Abby Wambach (unassisted) 63rd minute
Abby Wambach (Kelley O’Hara) 70
Alex Morgan (Lauren Cheney) 92
USA: 1-Hope Solo (capt.) (21-Jill Loyden, 52); 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (2-Heather Mitts, 46), 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone, 14-Stephanie Cox; 9-Heather O’Reilly (17-Tobin Heath, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx (13-Alex Morgan, 77), 16-Lori Lindsey (12-Lauren Cheney, 60), 15-Megan Rapinoe, 8-Amy Rodriguez (5-Kelley O’Hara, 60); 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 6-Amy LePeilbet, 10-Carli Lloyd, 11-Ali Krieger, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
CAN : 1-Karina LeBlanc (21-Stephanie Labbé, 46); 7-Rhian Wilkinson (5-Robyn Gayle, 72), 4-Carmelina Moscato, 16-Lauren Sesselmann (3-Melanie Booth, 75), 17-Lexi Marton; 6-Kaylyn Kyle (11-Desiree Scott, 55), 8-Diana Matheson (capt.) (9-Tina Romagnuolo, 81), 13-Sophie Schmidt; 10-Christina Julien, 14-Melissa Tancredi (20-Diamond Simpson, 89), 15-Kelly Parker
Subs not used: 2-Emily Zurrer, 12-Jaclyn Sawicki, 18-Erin McLeod, 19-Chelsea Stewart, 22-Justine Bernier
Head coach: John Herdman
Statistical Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 21 / 6
Shots on Goal: 10 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 7 / 0
Fouls: 9 / 5
Offside: 2 / 5
Abby Wambach (caution) 87th minute
Referee: Christina Ibanez (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Veronica Perez (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy Hanson (USA)
Fourth Official: Josh Wilkens (USA)