Jacksonville, FL (February 9, 2013)-It has been almost two months since the U.S. Women’s national team defeated the Chinese national team 4-1 to end what was a fantastic 2012 season. A 28-1-3 record capped off with a third consecutive gold medal last summer in London provided almost nothing but positive memories for 2012.
The U.S. Women started their 2013 season the same way they left off, with a 4-1 victory. This time however their opponent was the Scottish national team with some new faces in the mix for the Americans.
The U.S. women met this past week for their first training camp of 2013 after some much needed time off. This year may be looked at as a bit of an off year for the team since qualifying for the 2015 Women’s World Cup will not start until next year. Yet with the arrival of a new coach in Tom Sermanni, a heightened interest lends itself as Sermanni looks to build his own team.
29 players were invited to Jacksonville, the site of Sermanni’s first training camp with the national team and 18 players were made available for the first match. Notable players not listed as available for the game were Megan Rapinoe, Rachel Buehler and Hope Solo. Solo was scratched due to a minor calf strain while both Rapinoe and Buehler missed the first part of camp.
Sermanni chose to stick with the 4-4-2 formation utilized by former coach Pia Sundhage with captain Christie Rampone, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger starting on the back line. The midfield featured Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath and Christen Press. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were given the starts up front and Jill Loyden earned her fifth cap at goal for the injured Solo.
Making her presence known early in the game was Press who received her first cap with the national team and scored her first goal for the U.S. only 13 minutes into the match. A shot off her left foot from about 18 yards out broke up a somewhat stagnant first few minutes as the U.S. took a lead that they would not relinquish.
Press wasn’t done as she scored again in the 31st minute. With a pass from the left side from fellow midfielder Heath, Press was able to head the ball in past a Scottish defender for her second goal of the game. Though she is a natural forward, Press was slated in the right midfielder position due to the abundance of talent on the forward line.
The first half ended on a sour note when Morgan collided with a Scottish player who inadvertently stepped on her left ankle. Morgan had to be helped off the field and Sydney Leroux came in off the bench to join Wambach up front. No word yet on the severity of the injury.
Only seven minutes into the second half Boxx gave the U.S. the 3-0 lead with a 25-yard strike to the top left corner of the goal. It was the 26th career goal for the veteran midfielder appearing in her 181st game for the U.S.
Scotland was able to provide a counterattack only a few minutes later when Kim Little was able to slip a shot past a scrambling Nicole Barnhart, a second half substitution for Loyden, for their only goal of the afternoon.
Leroux tacked on a final goal for the U.S. in the 89th minute after she added a goal off of a long pass from Yael Averbuch to clinch the 4-1 victory for the Americans.
Noticeably quiet was the play of Wambach who is chasing Mia Hamm’s all time international goal total. Wambach currently sits at 152, six goals behind the record. Wambach who had 27 goals last year should easily be able to pass Hamm’s mark in the next few months barring injury. Wambach however was mostly ineffective playing just a few minutes into the second half.
Julie Johnston also earned her first cap with the national team. Only 17 years old she replaced Sauerbrunn in the final minutes of the game. And Krieger was a welcome addition to the defensive line after missing 2012 with the national team due to a torn ACL.
Over 18,000 fans came out to cheer on the reigning gold medalists who now move onto Nashville, TN where they will conclude their two-game series on Wednesday. That game can be followed on www.ussoccer.com at 8pm ET.