With only a few matches remaining for the US Women’s National Team to prepare for the London Olympics, each match is crucial as they look to defend their gold medal this summer. This Sunday found the team playing an international friendly against the Chinese National team before a sold out crowd of 18,573 at PPL Park outside of Philadelphia in Chester, Pa. The USWNT also was donning their new home kit’s provided by Nike. The splashy red and white uniforms certainly brought the team good luck as the US won 4-1.
Although heavily favored to win against a very young Chinese team, the US women found themselves facing an opponent that quickly looked to leave a mark once the game got started. Barely into the 4th minute when China had its first shot on Hope Solo, one that was barely deflected off the crossbar.
The first several minutes of the match were a battle for ball control though the US had two separate chances by Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan to take the lead. Surprisingly China managed to score the first goal of the game in the 23rd minute. Attacker Zhang Rui came up the left side and tucked the ball past Solo into the far post.
The lead would not last long. Morgan who had been stifled a few times earlier in the game equalized the match in the 34th minute. She took the ball to the left side of the net past a disjointed Chinese defense. Only two minutes later the US took the 2-1 lead off a free kick from Megan Rapinoe that a Chinese defender knocked in for an own goal.
As the second half began the US wasted little time in adding to their lead when Morgan caught a long pass from captain Christie Rampone and nailed in a shot for her second goal of the night. The 3-1 lead held until the 83rd minute when veteran forward Abby Wambach added her 135th career goal off of a throw in from Morgan.
As much energy as the Chinese team brought to the game in the first half, it sorely lacked in the second. Solo found herself merely an observer as the US defense kept the Chinese team easily at bay.
The US started with their 4-4-2 formation that Coach Pia Sundhage has gone with for most of the year placing forwards Morgan and Wambach up front, a combination that continues to be a winning formula for the team. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe found herself in the starting lineup on the left side having spent several games coming off the bench. Joining her in the midfield was Shannon Boxx, Heather O’Reilly and Carli Lloyd. On the back line were Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara.
The start of the second half brought some substitutions for the US as Coach Sundhage continues to tinker with her line up. Heather O’Reilly came out and was replaced by Amy Rodriguez while Lauren Cheney came in and took the spot of home crowd favorite Carli Lloyd. Becky Sauerbrunn saw some action on the defensive end when she replaced Rampone midway through the half. And the youngest member of the team Sydney Leroux came in at the 80th minute to lend support to the front line.
Coming off a two week training camp the US women proved that they have been continuing to put in the hard work that will be required if they want to take home a gold medal later this summer in London. Coach Sundhage also this weekend named her 18-player roster for the Summer Olympics. Only three of those players did not play tonight. Those were back up goalie Nicole Barnhart, midfielder Tobin Heath, and defender Heather Mitts.
Allowed to carry three less players than the twenty-one allowed at the FIFA World Cup meant cutting midfielder Lori Lindsey. She as well as goalkeeper Jill Loyden, midfielder Meghan Klingenberg, and forward Christian Press will serve as the four alternates for the Olympic squad.
The US team will have a week off before traveling to Sweden for a two-week training camp that will feature matches against both the Swedish National team and Japan. The final domestic match will be played against Canada on June 30th at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. It will be broadcast live at 12pm MT on NBC.