Wambach Scores Twice as U.S. Women Defeats Norway 2-1 at Algarve Cup in Portugal
- Wambach Increases International Goal Total to 103
- Cheney and Lindsey Set Up Goals
- USA Finishes Group Play Against Sweden on March 1 in Ferreiras Live on MatchTracker at 10 a.m. ET
OLHÃO, Portugal (February 26, 2010) – Forward Abby Wambach scored two goals, including the game-winner in stoppage time of the second half, to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to a dramatic 2-1 victory against Norway in the second match of Group B at the 2010 Algarve Cup.
The USA will now face Sweden on March 1 in Ferreiras (10 a.m. ET live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker) for a berth in the championship game. Sweden trounced Iceland 5-1 in the other Group B match today, scoring four goals in the second half, meaning the USA will need a tie or a win over the Swedes on Monday to make its eighth consecutive appearance in an Algarve Cup title game. The USA has six points from two wins and Sweden has four points from a tie and a win.
This classic USA-Norway match was played in wet, sloppy conditions which made playing passes through the midfield dicey at best. With several sections of the field covered in more water, mud and sand than grass, the U.S. women still managed to put together an excellent attacking performance. As the game wore on, the field conditions deteriorated and the U.S. legs tired in the final 20 minutes, forcing the Americans to attack with more direct balls. That tactic led to the winning goal.
The goal came when defender Cat Whitehill, who came on for the second half and slotted into the center back position, moving Stephanie Cox to left back, smashed a perfect long ball over the defense to the streaking Lauren Cheney. With almost two of the three allotted minutes of stoppage time off the clock, Cheney raced in on a breakaway, but her first shot was well-saved by 6-foot-2 Norwegian goalkeeper Christine Nilsen. Cheney got a crack at the rebound, but it was blocked over the right sideline by a scrambling defender.
Heather O’Reilly took the throw-in quickly, as the seconds were counting down, and as Cheney received the ball, she backed her defender deep into the penalty area. Cheney turned toward the end line, then cut the ball back away from the goal and lofted a short cross to Wambach at the far post. The 5-foot-11 Wambach lunged between two defenders and caught the ball with the toes of her left foot, knocking it into the left side of the net for the victory.
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made four changes to her starting lineup from the team that defeated Iceland 2-0 two days ago, giving Nicole Barnhart the start in goal for her 21st cap.
Heather Mitts, who did not see action against Iceland, went the distance at right back while Lori Lindsey, who played well off the bench two days ago, started at left midfield. Stephanie Cox, who was slated to start at left back, instead started in the middle of the defense after Sundhage was forced to make a change to her starters during the warm-ups. Amy LePeilbet, who was supposed to start in the middle next to Rachel Buehler, took ill and could not go. Meghan Schnur was put into the lineup at left back, but left the game at halftime for Whitehill, who played a great second half with Buehler.
Norway on the other hand, made six changes to its lineup from its 2-2 tie with Sweden two days ago, leaving several of its top players on the bench.
The USA was surely the better side for the first 25 minutes and got the first goal 13 minutes into the game on Wambach’s 13th all-time goal at the Algarve Cup.
Lindsey, who set up Cheney’s goal against Iceland two days ago, hit a very similar through ball to Wambach. The U.S. forward went shoulder-to-shoulder as she bullied her way past a Norwegian defender, who went to the ground, giving Wambach a one-on-one chance. She coolly bent the ball into the lower right corner from just inside the penalty area.
Norway immediately answered, forcing Barnhart to leap backwards and push away a shot from Guro Knutsen Mienna. Barnhart, who played a very solid match despite the muck-filled goal areas, then went high to grab the ensuing corner kick.
Norway almost scored a few minutes later as future Washington Freedom striker Lene Mykjaland knocked down a corner kick at the far post. Lise Klaveness had a look at it, but Barnhart fell on the ball before she could get a kick at it.
The puddles also created a few scary moments for both teams when the ball stopped dead in dangerous areas, but each time players managed to scramble away the ball.
Norway picked up the attack in the final 20 minutes of the half, and earned six corner kicks before the break, but couldn’t find a way through the tough U.S. back line.
Cheney, who caused problems for Norway all game long both back-to-goal and running at the net, almost made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, but her blast from the right side of the penalty area clanged off the right post and bounced outside the penalty area.
Wambach’s two goals increased her international total to 103 and gave her 14 in the Algarve Cup, moving her past Kristine Lilly as the top U.S. scorer in the history of this tournament. Wambach has now scored four goals since returning from the broken leg that knocked her out of the 2008 Olympics.
In the 61st minute, new Norwegian head coach Eli Landsem went to her big guns, bringing on Solveig Gulbrandsen, Leni Larsen Kaurin, Ingvild Stensland and Isabel Herlovsen and the tactic immediately produced a goal.
Just two minutes later, Kaurin burst down the right wing to the end line and served a perfect cross inside the six-yard box. Herlovsen came knifing through to flick a header past Barnhart and into the net. It was just the second goal ever given up by Barnhart in a U.S. uniform.
Just a few minutes later, the U.S. had a goal called back after Carli Lloyd pounded a 20-yard shot off the chest of Nilsen and Wambach roofed the rebound from close range, but the assistant referee had her flag up for offside.
After the Norway goal, it was the United States that admirably took the initiative and the last 10 minutes featured a frenzied series of American attacks that gave a hint to the stoppage time game-winner.
In the 85th minute, Lloyd made a great dribbling run down the left wing, beat a player into the penalty area and crossed to Wambach at the far post. Her header was looping into the left corner when Nilsen reached back to push it away for a corner kick.
Next up was substitute Yael Averbuch, who hit a searing shot from 25 yards right at Nilsen, but it gave the big ‘keeper trouble on the wet grass and she had to knock it down before grasping it.
Lloyd, who played a hard-fought match with Shannon Boxx in the sandbox that was the center midfield, almost scored herself when she worked free with a nifty dribble into the left side of the box, but her left-footed shot skipped wide right from 15 yards away.
The Americans continued to push and Nilsen had to tip an O’Reilly cross over the goal for a corner kick. The corner was cleared away, but that set the stage for Whitehill’s long pass to Cheney that led to the winning goal.
In Group A, China defeated Denmark 2-0 while Germany handily defeated Finland 7-0. China would have to defeat Germany in the final Group A match to earn a place in the championship game. The Germans just need a tie to advance to the March 3 final at Stadium Algarve.
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Norway
Date: Feb. 26, 2010
Competition: 2010 Algarve Cup; Group B
Venue: Estadio Jose Arcanjo; Vila Real de San Antonio, Portugal
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (10 a.m. ET)
Weather: 63 degrees, Mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
NOR 0 1 1
USA – Abby Wambach (Lori Lindsey) 13th minute
NOR – Isabel Herlovsen (Leni Larsen Kaurin) 63
USA – Abby Wambach (Lauren Cheney) 92+
USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Heather Mitts, 26-Rachel Buehler, 14-Stephanie Cox, 17-Meghan Schnur (4-Cat Whitehill, 46); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx – Capt. (12-Yael Averbuch, 64), 10-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lori Lindsey (8-Amy Rodriguez, 77); 11-Lauren Cheney, 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 1-Hope Solo, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 13-Megan Rapinoe, 15-Casey Nogueira, 24-Jill Loyden.
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
NOR: 12-Christine Nilsen; 2-Toril Akerhaugen, 3-Marit Christensen, 6-Lise Marie Woods (8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 61), 15-Hedda Gardsjord, 17-Maren Mjelde, 14-Lise Klaveness, 18-Guro Knutsen Mienna (11-Leni Larsen Kaurin, 61), 20-Lena Storløkken – Capt. (4-Ingvild Stensland, 61); 16-Elisa Thorsnes (9-Isabel Herlovsen, 61), 19-Lene Mykjaland (10-Lindy Melissa Wiik, 75).
Subs not used: 1-Ingrid Hjelmseth, 5-Gry Tofte Ims, 7-Trine Rønning, 13-Cecilie Pedersen
Head Coach: Eli Landsem
Statistical Summary: USA / NOR
Shots: 14 / 7
Shots on Goal: 9 / 2
Saves: 1 / 7
Corner Kicks: 10 / 8
Fouls: 9 / 9
Offside: 4 / 4
NOR – Marit Christensen (caution) 11th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (caution) 76
Referee: (Korea Republic)
Asst. Referee: Suel Gi Lee (Korea Republic)
Asst. Referee: Saori Takahashi (Japan)
Fourth Official: Jia Wang (China)
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