(March 13, 2013)-Alex Morgan didn’t score her first goal of the year until Monday against Sweden when the U.S. Women’s national team needed a tie to advance to the championship game of the Algarve Cup. Today during the final match she added two more and propelled her team to their 9th Algarve Cup victory with a 2-0 win over 2nd ranked Germany.
It wasn’t the cleanest game that the U.S. Women have played in recent history but thanks to a Herculean effort by Nicole Barnhart in goal the Americans were able to shutout a German squad that played far better than the score reflects.
Barnhart had a busy day recording five saves while the Germans took a total of 12 shots on goal compared to only 6 for the U.S.
Morgan’s goals came in the 13th and 33rd minutes of the game and the 23-year-old nearly had a hat trick in the second half when her shot was deflected off the crossbar.
Coach Tom Sermanni mixed up his roster once again choosing to start Morgan with Sydney Leroux as his two forwards keeping veteran Abby Wambach on the bench until the last fifteen minutes of the game. Megan Rapinoe was in the initial line-up and then scratched at the last minute due to an injury she incurred during warm-ups. Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Shannon Boxx and Yael Averbuch rounded out the midfield while Rachel Buehler, Kelley O’Hara, Whitney Engen and Ali Krieger started on the back line for Sermanni.
Their record 9th Algarve Cup title was not without cost as Jill Loyden and Carli Lloyd both suffered injuries while in Portugal. Loyden will miss 3-4 months with a broken hand while Lloyd broke a small bone in her left shoulder during the first game against Iceland and is expected to miss close to two months.
The team will have a few weeks away from national team duty before regrouping for two much anticipated friendlies in early April. On April 5th they will travel to Germany for a rematch with their German counterparts and then to Holland to take on the Dutch squad on April 9th.
U.S. Soccer also released the news today that veteran defender Heather Mitts has announced her retirement from the game.
“The time has come for me to move onto a new stage of my career,” said Mitts through a statement to U.S. Soccer. “I truly appreciate the women who paved the way, to my friends and dear teammates that I will never forget. I will miss the little things, the travel by plane, train and mini-van, the locker room moments, keeping my teammates on their toes and nothing will ever compare to putting on that U.S. jersey. It’s been an amazing journey with some obstacles, but in the very end I feel so fortunate that we were able to close on a golden note. . . . Soccer has given me so many opportunities and has been a positive and humbling teacher. I feel completely fulfilled and it’s that perfect time to move on. I leave with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart.”
The 34-year-old began her career for the national team in 1999 and will leave with 137 caps and three Olympic gold medals.