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Morgan leads Americans to ninth Algarve Cup title
by Paul Kennedy, March 13th, 2013 5:08PM

TAGS:  germany, women's national team


[USA-GERMANY] Alex Morgan's two goals were the difference as the USA won the Algarve Cup for a ninth time as it beat Germany, 2-0, in Wednesday's final that pitted the world's top two ranked teams in the world against each other. The tournament title was the first under new coach Tom Sermanni, who made a number of lineup changes. Longtime captain Christie Rampone did not play, FIFA Women's Player of the Year Abby Wambach came off the bench for the first time since 2011, and Megan Rapinoe, the tournament MVP, was a late scratch due to an injury.

Morgan's opportunism accounted for both goals. She pounced on a failed clearance of a Sydney Leroux cross and fired a left-footed shot into the top corner for the first goal in the 13th minute.

Later in the first half, Morgan took advantage of a mixup in the German defense to gran Tobin Heath's ball into the area and put the ball into the goal.

With Hope Solo and Jillian Loyden both hurt, Nicole Barnhart got the start in goal and was outstanding with two great stops on Celia Okoyino da Mbabi in the second half to shut out the Germans, who finished with a 12-6 edge in shots.

The win gave the USA its eighth Algarve Cup title in the last 11 years and extended its unbeaten streak to 29 games dating back more than a year to last year's Algarve Cup.

The U.S. women will head back to their clubs -- the majority of them to teams preparing for the first year of the new NWSL -- before assembling again for a two-game European tour in April.

The first match: Germany April 5 in Offenbach.

March 13 in Faro
USA 2 Germany 0. Goals: Morgan 13, 33.
USA -- Barnhart; Krieger (Dunn, 58), Buehler, Engen, O'Hara; Press (Wambach, 75), Boxx, Averbuch (Sauerbrunn, 68), Heath (Mewis, 82); Morgan, Leroux.
Germany -- Schult; Peter (Cramer, 46), Wensing, Henning, Maier; Faisst (Huth, 75), Odebrecht (Kessler, 46; Bresonik, 60), Goessling, Marozsan (Lotzen, 81); Okoyino da Mbabi, Mittag (Popp, 46)
Referee: Carol Anne Chenard (CAN)
Att.: 1,200.

1 comment
  1. Brian Threlkeld
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.
    A powerful tournament performance by the U.S.; fun to watch. While Hope Solo obviously remains the first choice in goal, it was very encouraging to see Barnhart turn in such a strong performance. It's reassuring to have it shown that if Solo is down, we can still get first-rate play from our other keepers. I am starting to wonder about the future of U.S. keeping. Solo and Barnhart turn 32 this year. Jill Loyden and Ashlyn Harris will turn 28. They're far from geezers, and, of course, keepers often remain in top form at a greater age than do field players. Nevertheless, I'm starting to wonder: who's the future of U.S. keeping, and how are those top prospects coming along? By the way: what's up with Japan's national team? They fizzled in group play this year, beating Denmark in the last game, but only after losing handily to Norway and Germany. In their placement game they edged China for 5th place, but that was hardly an overwhelming achievement, all things considered. Is their group of players that were so strong in winning the World Cup in 2011, and in reaching the Algarve Cup and Olympic finals in 2012, starting to show *their* age? Just a bunch of untimely injuries? Something else? FIFA's site reports that Coach Norio Sasaki stated before this tournament that it would be the ‘base’ for building toward the World Cup in Canada in 2015. So did he go with an exceptionally youthful roster, expecting that they'd take it on the chin this year, but that it was just the price to pay to get them seasoned for 2015? They're still third in FIFA's rankings (whatever *that's* worth), but one does have to wonder about the direction of their program. Interesting, too, to see Norway turn in a strong performance to secure 3rd place. One wonders if they're on their way back to being a leading national team, after over a decade in relative decline after their 2000 Olympics gold medal.

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