USA ends 'strange tournament' with dominant win

[ALGARVE CUP] The USA settled for seventh place at the Algarve Cup -- its lowest placement in its 19 appearances in the tournament -- when it beat North Korea, 3-0, on Wednesday thanks to two goals from Abby Wambach and one from Heather O'Reilly, celebrating her 200th cap.

Algarve Cup:
Final: Germany 3 Japan 0
3rd place: Iceland 2 Sweden 1.
5th place: China 1 Denmark 1
(China wins on penalties).
7th place: USA 3 North Korea 0.
9th place: Russia 1 Norway 0.
11th place: Austria 2 Portugal 1.

Only twice before has the USA gone winless in as many as four games -- in the first four games it ever played in 1985 and again in 2001 -- but it avoided matching that record with its first win in four games in the 21st edition of the Algarve Cup.

Domination was not a problem at this year's tournament -- the USA finished with a 64-23 edge in shots -- but it got finishing against North Korea that had been lacking earlier in the tournament.

The service was excellent on both Wambach goals -- the 166th and 167th of her international career -- as she finished off Ali Krieger's cross with a diving header at the far post in the 11th minute and flick of the ball with the sole of her left foot on Carli Lloyd's pass in the 58th minute. O'Reilly, a second-half sub, was wide open at the far post to put away Lloyd's cross for the third goal with two minutes to play.

“It was a terrific performance, to be honest," said U.S. coach Tom Sermanni. "We dominated the game, we dominated possession, and I can’t remember them having a shot on goal. I’m really pleased with the way players came out and approached the game. To be honest, they could have come out feeling fairly dejected because we are playing in an unusual position in this tournament rather than playing for first and second. So, it’s a credit to them, their professionalism and focus, and we finished the game off exceptionally well.”

Sermanni praised Wambach's performance.

“She led from the front," he said. "Morgan [Brian] and Carli dominated midfield, and Becky [Sauerbrunn] and Buehler [Rachel Van Hollebeke] dominated in the back, so right down our core today we were really solid. It was a good way to finish what has been a strange tournament.”

The USA will be back in action next for two games against China on April 6 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., and April 10 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

-- Germany, the reigning European champion, won the Algarve Cup in convincing fashion with a 3-0 win over Japan, the 2011 Women's World Cup champion, thanks to goals by Nadine Kessler, Anja Mittag and Dzsenifer Morazsan.

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March 12 in Parchal
USA 3 North Korea 0. Goals: Wambach 11, 58, O'Reilly 88.
USA -- Loyden; Krieger, Sauerbrunn, Van Hollebeke, Klingenberg (O’Hara, 59); Rapinoe, Brian, Lloyd, Heath (O’Reilly, 46); Rodriguez (Press, 75), Wambach.
North Korea -- Hong; Kim Un Hyang, Kim Nam Hui, Kim Un Ha, Yun; Kim Su Gyong, Kim Un Ju, Jong, Kim Yun Mi; Ho, Ra.
2 comments about "USA ends 'strange tournament' with dominant win".
  1. Bertrand Hamilton, March 12, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.

    Where is Alex Morgan when we need her?

  2. R2 Dad, March 13, 2014 at 1:21 a.m.

    "Domination was not a problem at this year's tournament -- the USA finished with a 64-23 edge in shots". "Domination" is not that important. It's the quality of shots against top opponents that counts. US 20 shots/8 on goal vs Japan (8/4), US 12 shots/6 on goal vs Sweden 4/3, US 20/11 vs Denmark (9/7).

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