Wednesday - Team Performance of the Year
Today, Dec. 21, marks the third day of our 2016 U.S. Soccer Best of Awards. UPDATE: The U.S. Women's National Team performance against Germany at the SheBelieves Cup takes the prize as U.S. Soccer's Best Team Performance of 2016, Presented by Thorne. Check back tomorrow for more!
WNT vs. Germany – March 9, 2016 -- WINNER
In the de-facto Final for the inaugural 2016 SheBelieves Cup, Germany struck first as Anja Mittag gave the European Champions the lead in the 29th minute. It was then that the USA turned on the engines for a truly terrific team performance. Meghan Klingenberg evaded a defender near midfield and lofted a ball over the top of the German defense down the left side into the path of a sprinting Alex Morgan. Morgan let the ball bounce twice, as she muscled out a first defender, before deftly lifting it over Saskia Bartusiak with her left foot and ripping a right-footed shot into the net in two fluid steps. The goal was spectacular, but more importantly, it tied the game in the 35th minute. It was Samantha Mewis who then scored the game-winning goal in the 41st minute – her second international goal – after stealing the ball from Germany midfielder Melanie Behringer (who is up for 2016 FIFA Player of the Year) and pushing it forward to the top of the Germany penalty box. She then sent a left-footed shot from just over 20 yards out that deflected off a Germany defender and spun underneath the goalkeeper to give the USA the tournament title.
WNT vs. Canada – Feb. 21, 2016
After securing its berth in the Olympic Games with a 5-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago in the semifinal of the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Feb. 19, the U.S. WNT was in search of the tournament title when it took against Canada in the championship match on Feb. 21 in Houston. With the USA and Canada rivalry being one of the strongest in the women’s game, the match did not disappoint, as both teams began pressuring earlier and emotions ran high heading into the locker rooms scoreless at the half. It did not take long however for Lindsey Horan to find the back of the net as she opened the scoring on a header in the 53rd minute off an assist from Becky Sauerbrunn, who was celebrating her 100th appearance with the U.S. WNT. Tobin Heath added the second and final goal of the match in the 61st minute with a nifty finish after a weaving dribble and assist from Mallory Pugh for the USA’s 2-0 win. The win marked the fourth consecutive title in this tournament for the USA which has the longest unbeaten streak in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying history and an overall 18-0-1 record.
WNT vs. France – March 6, 2016
In an even match that saw excellent chances and quality overall play from both teams with the USA recording 10 shots and four on goal, while France had eight shots and three on goal, it was a dramatic stoppage-time goal from Alex Morgan that lifted the U.S. Women’s National Team past France 1-0 in front of a record crowd of 25,363 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Morgan’s goal in the first minute of stoppage time came when Mallory Pugh brought a ball down skillfully at midfield and penetrated the France defensive half. With Morgan making a run behind the France back line, Pugh slipped her a perfectly-weight pass and the speedy U.S. striker roared into the penalty box before hitting a left-footed blast past onrushing goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and into the lower right corner.
MNT vs. Guatemala – March 29, 2016
On the heels of a disappointing 2-0 defeat in Guatemala, the U.S. turned around four days later to face los Chapines at home in Columbus, Ohio. Another loss against the Central American side would have proved disastrous to the MNT’s chances of advancing to the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying, but the USA responded admirably, using first half goals from Clint Dempsey and Geoff Cameron and second half strikes from Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore to turn in a hard-fought 4-0 victory and get back on track towards the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying.
U-17 MNT vs. France – March 29, 2016
The U-17 MNT began an impressive run in 2016 by defeating France to clinch the 44th Mondial Football de Montaigu tournament in March. After drawing 1-1 with Brazil and 2-2 with England, the U.S. impressed with a 4-0 victory against Russia to setup the Final clash vs. the hosts. The U-17 MNT took the lead early through Timothy Weah’s sixth minute strike, but went into the halftime break down 2-1. Ever resilient, the U.S. equalized through George Acosta just after halftime, before the Miami, Fla., scored his second in the dying moments of the match, handing the U.S. the first of two tournament titles in 2016.
MNT vs. Costa Rica – June 7, 2016
Following a 2-0 defeat to Colombia to open the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a loss vs. Costa Rica would have seen the U.S. eliminated from the competition after only two matches. Backs against the wall, the U.S. responded once again, riding first-half strikes from Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood, and a late night-cap from Graham Zusi to earn a 4-0 victory against Costa Rica, a result that sparked the USA’s run to the tournament semifinals.
MNT vs. Ecuador – June 16, 2016
Having finished atop their Copa America Centenario group, the USA earned a trip to Seattle to face Ecuador in the Quarterfinals. While a Clint Dempsey goal gave the U.S. a halftime lead, tempers flared early in the second stanza when Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia was shown a second yellow card, and Jermaine Jones received a straight red for a sideline skirmish after Valencia’s foul. With 10 players aside, the U.S. ran out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Dempsey’s connection with Gyasi Zardes, and while Ecuador pulled a goal back, the MNT saw out gutsy 2-1 victory, advancing to their second Copa America semifinal appearance.
PNT vs. Netherlands – Sept. 8, 2016
The U.S. Paralympic National Team knew it was in for a tough test against the Netherlands – a world power in 7-a-side soccer – in its first Group B match at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Looking to make a statement early, 2016 U.S. Soccer Disabled Player of the Year Adam Ballou, found the back of the net exactly 2:06 into the opening match. The goal sent the Dutch into full attack, but the U.S. defense banded together to prevent more than half of the Netherlands’ 32 shot attempts from reaching the goal. The Netherlands did well to score twice in the second half to earn a 2-1 lead, but once again, Ballou found the back of the net for the USA, this time in the final seconds of the game, to earn a historic 2-2 draw.
U-20 WNT vs. Mexico – Nov. 25, 2016
After a gritty first-half defensive effort from the U-20 WNT, Mexico was finally able to push through in the 66th minute to jump to a 1-0 lead in the Quarterfinal match of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. In dramatic fashion, U.S. substitute Ally Watt tied the game in the 81st minute off a superb pass from Ashley Sanchez, and the USA wasn’t done yet. After some end-to-end play produced chances for both teams near the end of regulation, it was Sanchez who set up the game-winner three minutes into stoppage time with a brilliant dribble and pass from the right wing. She beat a defender around the corner, got to the end line and played a pass back on the ground that was dummied by Mallory Pugh and rolled to the crashing Kelcie Hedge, who had entered the game in the 68th minute. With the comeback 2-1 win, even after being outshot four to 15, the U-20 WNT showed unbelieve fight to advance to the semifinal of the U-20 WWC, coming from a goal down to score twice in the final 13 minutes and defeat its biggest CONCACAF foe.