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Morgan wonder goal caps spectacular effort
by Ridge Mahoney, August 7th, 2012 2:09AM

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TAGS:  olympics, women's national team

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[USA-CANADA REPORT CARD] If it wasn't the greatest game in the history of women's soccer, it must rank very near the top. The Americans rallied three times from one-goal deficits imposed by Canadian nemesis Christine Sinclair before Alex Morgan headed home the winner in the final seconds of overtime stoppage time. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney provides U.S. ratings of an incredible game both teams deserved to win ...
 
Starters
GRADE/PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
5 Hope Solo (Seattle Sounders Women) 123/0.
Didn't have much chance on any of the three goals but came up with an excellent kick save late in the match on a Sophie Schmidt shot, and collected the crosses and through balls she should have reached. Cleared a long ball with a confident kick about five yards outside her penalty area.

4 Amy LePeilbet (no club) 74/0.
She didn't contest one of Christine Sinclair's headers while guarding the back post and also had trouble subduing Marie-Eve Nault and Melissa Tancredi when they came up her side. Offensively she overhit balls up the line but did deliver a few quality serves to the forwards.

4 Christie Rampone (no club) 265/4.
Tancredi schooled her on the flank to set up the second Canadian goal and though she won a lot of balls she wasn't able to use her touches to slow and settle the game once the USA had equalized. She did rally her troops through a searing see-saw of emotions.

5 Rachel Buehler (no club) 87/3.
Tackled tenaciously on the ground, but was beaten by Sinclair as she and Abby Wambach didn't mark up on a corner kick. There were many battles won, however, before she came off in the 110th minute, and her sliding block on Sinclair late in the first overtime might have saved the game.

5 Kelley O'Hara (no club) 24/0.
Sinclair cut inside her to score the first goal but she played a solid game, seldom allowing Canada the opportunity to run at goal or cross from her side. She raised her game when the USA went to a 3-4-3 formation.  A great crossfield ball in the final minute provided O'Reilly the chance to deliver a game-winning cross.

4 Carli Lloyd (no club) 140/38.
She got a forward a few times in the first half and nearly reached a through ball to get a chance, then retreated to concentrate on defensive duties and playing outlet balls to the attackers. Too many times Canada ran or played the ball through her areas in midfield.

5 Tobin Heath (New York Fury) 50/6.
Tremendous energy and range were betrayed by poor touches at critical moments, such as the heavy mis-trap of an Morgan diagonal ball that bounced out for a corner, and a couple of shooting opportunities she passed up. She used both flanks and the middle to unhinge the Canadian midfield but was also caught out of position when the Canadians pushed forward.

5 Lauren Cheney (no club) 72/18.
She hit several good balls over distance and out to the flanks, and twisted away from pressure a few times to keep possession. When given time on the ball she hit hasty passes that were intercepted, and she lost several duels with Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott.

8 Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Sounders Women) 57/15.
Returned to her threatening, creative persona of the first two games and scored twice: an "olimpico" directly from a corner kick that snuck in at the near post, and a right-footed cracker from the edge of the penalty area that kissed the inside of the far post. She waged some gladiatorial battles with former college teammate Schmidt, and pushed on relentlessly to the final seconds.

9 Alex Morgan (Seattle Sounders Women) 47/30.
She blistered the Canadian defense repeatedly with an amazing display of runs, touches and passes that should have produced one or two goals. She owned the left side for much of the match and with a typical move played a ball to the far post that Wambach sent wide of the goal, and in overtime provided her another shot that came back off the crossbar. In the final seconds, she somehow mustered the strength and poise to direct a header that looped just under the crossbar as she tumbled to the ground.

6 Abby Wambach (no club) 187/143.
She knocked home the penalty kick that re-tied the match at 3-3 yet later couldn't put away a ball from Morgan for the goal that could have avoided overtime, and also hit the crossbar in OT. Canada dished out a fair number of hits in a vain attempt to stop her, though she did lose her legs in the final minutes, which isn't surprising.
 
Substitutes
4 Sydney Leroux (Seattle Sounders Women) 19/8.
Despite her entrance with 14 minutes left in regulation she wasn't much of a factor. Canada thwarted her efforts to threaten.

6 Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers) 170/34.
Used her 19 minutes to optimum use; she hit a deep cross that required a good catch by the goalie, buzzed into the box a step too late to reach a through ball, and in the final seconds delivered a classic serve that Morgan headed home to win the game.

NR Becky Sauerbrunn (D.C. United Women) 26/0.
Gave a ball away shortly after replacing Buehler in the 110th minute but managed to avoid another mistake.

(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)



10 comments
  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.
    Abby Wambach was very ineffective. She did score a good PK. I have always felt the US will become a much better team when she is moved out of the lineup. Don't get me wrong, she has proven again and again to be an effective player, kinda like Peter Crouch (too good to leave off the team, but how do you build your overall team if all she can do is finish crossed balls)? I expect to be crucified for my remarks, but I stand by them.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.
    Does the US have the ability to link between the center mids and the forwards? Is it a player problem or a system problem (see above)? I can't imagine not having a player in the entire continent who can play a true attacking center mid.

  1. John Soares
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
    Ridge; Nothing derogatory! I think you know the game and are usually spot on.... Now the "BUT". I have to wonder if you use the same scale (do you?) to grade the women that you use for the men!? It seems that average to mediocre performances by the guys in no pressure friendlies receive 6, 7 even 8s. But very good work in world class High pressure games, by women earn a 4 or 5. Would love to know/understand the logic!?

  1. John Soares
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.
    Bill, agree..sort of. Abby is not the best at "handling" the ball. Most target players are not. But with a goal per game and 142 over all she is a hell of a target. Crouch can only dream of being that good. Second, also agree sort of on your mid field take. Lloyd usually does a good job at that position. With Boxx out she had to fall back, and the job was then done by comity. Not bad under the circumstances!

  1. Brian Bouhl
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 2:45 p.m.
    Alex Morgan gets a 9 and Rapinoe an 8? Other than the last 5 minutes of regular time and part of overtime, Morgan was NOWHERE to be found. Her and Wambach were invisible. Rapinoe ran this show for the US. Other than Morgan scoring the winner and creating some chances late and in OT, she was barely even there. Same for Abby. If they were any where near effective or existent during the first 80 minutes then it wouldn't have taken 2 goals from Rapinoe to level. Skewed ratings for sure.

  1. tom hammond
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.
    100% agree with brian. Rapinoe for the 5th straight game seemed a tireless machine. Midfielder is a position requiring a lot of running but Rapinoe takes that to an extreme. Always flying up and down the field to put herself in position to make a play. Throughout these games, she has been the kingpin of the offense. Goals, assists, corner kicks (maybe they will change the phrase to "bend it like Rapinoe", she does it all. Take away Sinclare and Rapinoe and the best game of the olympics would have been rather boring. If Rapinoe's performance doesn't rate a 10, what does?

  1. James Madison
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 7:28 p.m.
    Morgan deserved a 7, but I cannot disagree with the other marks or comments. Rapinoe, who was amazing in Game 1 and 2 and borderline awful in Games 3 and 4, was "on" for this one. Those who criticize Wambach should take note (a) of the beatings she has absorbed and (b) the excellent passes she makes.

  1. Ronnie j Salvador
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 9:08 p.m.
    Agree that Rapinoe deserved a higher mark than Morgan. Two goals, and a constant presence both offensively and defensively [although had a handball in the box which wasn't called]. Yes, Morgan went by her defender a couple of times but Rapinoe was the best player for the USA in this game. I hope Ridge isn't biased because of Morgan's good looks!

  1. Blank Dan
    commented on: August 8, 2012 at 12:09 a.m.
    I disagree with Brian and Tom. Here is one play that shows how Alex was central to the entire match. Before Megan hit her "olimpico", the Canadian defender Scott was guarding the near post. But Alex came out away from the near post to meet a possible short pass from Megan. Alex's marker followed her AND Scott followed her, too, exposing a gaping hole at the near post. Megan's ball would not have gone in had Scott stayed put. So I may submit that the presence of Alex has created additional and quality opportunities for others, in this particular case, for Megan's first goal. Watch the replay again and see if you agree with me on this play.

  1. Ronnie j Salvador
    commented on: August 9, 2012 at 12:06 a.m.
    Scott [the CDN holding mid who had the near post] did take off to follow Morgan. No argument there; it was a mistake. Someone else needed to follow Morgan along with her marker to avoid a 2 on 1. Scott leaving the near post was a big mental mistake. Similiar thing happened in one of the Canadian goals [the USA defender moving off the post too soon]. I don't understand why seasoned players leave their assigned post, when a disciplined youth or high school team typically doesn't have that issue.


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