Big Moments, Big Win
The U.S. Women’s team entered the Algarve Cup sporting new away kits and brought home a 2-1 win against Norway. The first goal went to Norway, as U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, wasn’t able to get enough of a touch on the ball in her first game back from her 30 day suspension. Not the ideal start but midfielder Carli Lloyd stayed positive and helped get the team back on track.
“I hate losing…I’m a winner and I want to go out there and win. It might not be pretty, it might not be a shutout, but that’s what we need to do. I’m a veteran and I have to lead this team and show up in big moments.”
In the 55th minute of the game, following her winning mentality, Lloyd scored a goal into the left frame in order to tie the score. Later she put away a penalty shot, finalizing the U.S. victory against Norway.
Continued Success Against Switzerland
The March 6th match versus Switzerland started slow when the U.S. couldn’t seem to break through Switzerland’s defense. Regardless of the rough start, the women’s team adjusted and pulled off an impressive 3-0 win. All goals were scored in the second half by Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, and Abby Wambach. The match showcased a variety of players, with head coach Jill Ellis utilizing all six substitutions during the match. Abby Wambach was one of the six substitutes who came in during the second half, and made a powerful impact with her first goal of the season during the 81st minute. Wambach later commented, “Tonight it showed that we not only can play those starting eleven but the players that come off the bench can make an immediate impact.”
Scrappy Yet Successful
Although the U.S. did not find another win, a 0 - 0 tie with Iceland allowed the team to take first place in Group B and head to the championship game against France. It was a scrappy and physical game featuring 29 fouls, 18 of which coming from Iceland. Iceland had few opportunities to shoot, but when they shot one high to the middle of the goal, Hope Solo earned her 80th shutout by pushing the ball over the bar. U.S. Defender Becky Sauerbrunn described it as “a game of duels and winning your individual battles.” By using all six substitutions, the U.S. players got some well-deserved leg rest in preparation for the final match against France on March 11th.
U.S. Women’s National Team wins 10th Algarve Cup
After a successful journey leading up to the championship game, the U.S. Women’s National Team earned their 10th championship at the Algarve Cup with a 2 - 0 defeat over France Wednesday afternoon. With 20 visits to the tournament under their belt, the championship match was the U.S.’s 14th appearance in the Algarve Cup title game. This game was the first time the United States and France faced off in the Cup’s championship title game. The U.S. locked in their victory with two goals by Julie Johnston and Christen Press, marking Johnston’s first goal as a member of the WNT, and Press with her 20th international goal. Goalkeeper Hope Solo was named Budweiser Woman of the Match after impressing fans with a diving stop on a penalty kick in the 81st minute of the game - coincidentally making the game her 81st career shutout.
What’s Next for WNT?
Head coach Jill Ellis commented positively on the victory but also admitted there is still lots of work to be done:
“We want to enjoy this for a day certainly but, we’re going into camp again in a matter of days. For me, the fitness piece and continuing to build that is important. I think our legs are getting there and this tournament was good in terms of getting a lot of players’ experience.”
Ellis goes on to mention how Hope Solo’s return was helpful, and although the team performed successfully as a whole, the areas of improvement can now be assessed. “Now it’s about the takeaways, and what we need to continue to work on. Because obviously June is the target.”
Kicking off the regular season, the U.S. Women’s team is scheduled to host New Zealand on April 4th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri at 2:30pm. 30,000 tickets have already been sold for this opening match.
Photos & video courtesy of US Soccer.