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U.S. Women’s National Team Routs Sweden 4-0 to Take Third Place at 2012 Algarve Cup !

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The U.S. WNT captured third place at the 2012 Algarve Cup with a 4-0 victory against Sweden. Alex Morgan registered her first career hat trick while Abby Wambach chipped in for another. Nicole Barnhart got the shut out in goal.

  • Forward Alex Morgan Scores First Career WNT Hat Trick
  • Wambach Adds Her 134th Career International Goal
  • U.S. Team’s Next International Match Will be April 1 Against Japan in Sendai, Live on ESPN2 and ESPN3 at 6:30 a.m. ET

PARCHAL, Portugal (March 7, 2012) – The U.S. Women’s National Team scored three times in the first half on the way to a resounding 4-0 victory against Sweden in the third-place match of the 2012 Algarve Cup. Forward Alex Morgan scored her first career hat trick while fellow striker Abby Wambach added one goal, which was her 134th in a U.S. uniform.

“I am very happy about the four goals we scored and the way we played at times and the way we created chances,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “Abby’s goal is very important because we should do well on set pieces and Alex Morgan, she can create chances from nothing sometimes.”

The USA will next return to action with two matches in Japan, taking on the hosts on April 1 from Sendai in a game that can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN3 at 6:30 a.m. ET. The U.S. team will then travel south to Chiba to meet Brazil in a game that will be broadcast at 7 a.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN3.

Heading into the Sweden match, the U.S. Women were coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Japan in their final group match that not only sent them to the third place game, but saw the USA fail to convert its scoring chances. That would not be the case against the world’s fifth-ranked Swedes as the USA fired 13 shots, putting 11 on goal, and scored less than five minutes into the game.

The first goal came after Heather O’Reilly received a ball on the right wing inside her own half and cut into the middle before playing a pass on the ground up the field to Wambach. The ball rolled past Wambach and then it was all Morgan. Although a Swedish defender had several steps on Morgan, the U.S. forward raced past her to latch onto the ball. The defender tried to slide but instead toe-poked the ball inside as she fell. Morgan then ran past another Swedish defender, who had taken a poor defensive angle, and found herself only with goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl to beat.

The Swedish net-minder clearly did not expect Morgan to be in that position with the ball and was caught off her line. Morgan then calmly chipped her shot over the ’keeper and into the left corner of the net from just outside the penalty area on the right side.

The second goal came in the 33rd minute after Carli Lloyd had sent a free kick into the Sweden penalty area from about 35 yards out. The ball was cleared over the left sideline and Kelley O’Hara took the throw-in to Wambach, who touched the ball back to Tobin Heath. Heath, who got the start at left midfield, looked up and slipped a pass into the left side of the penalty box for the cutting Morgan.

The U.S. forward sprinted onto the ball and with a touch, burst past a defender. It seemed at first that the touch had taken her too deep into the penalty area as she was right on the end line but just a few yards from Lindahl when she squared up to shoot. Lindahl had come about five yards outside of the post to cut down the angle, giving Morgan only a sliver of space in which to shoot. Morgan’s well-struck shot somehow squeezed past Lindahl to her right, deflected off her right palm and just inside the left post. The Swedish ’keeper got just enough of the ball to put some spin on it, causing it to roll behind her and over the line.

The USA finished off the first half by scoring three minutes later off a beautifully struck free kick from Christie Rampone, who hit a few long set plays on the day that produced danger. This one was driven from the center of the field into the center of the penalty box with the perfect height and pace. Wambach was making a run across the six-yard box and got her head on the ball, sending it straight into the lower left corner.

Sundhage gave the start in goal to Nicole Barnhart, who played splendidly in her first action of the tournament, keeping an extremely tidy penalty area. Sweden fired eight shots, seven on goal, and most from star forward Lotta Schelin, but Barnhart saved them all. She also solidly caught several corner kicks and Sweden crosses to earn the shutout.

Schelin was by far the most dangerous player for Sweden, but her strong runs up the middle were well handled by Rampone and Rachel Buehler, who did a great job putting pressure on the lanky striker even when she did get in a good position to shoot.

Sweden did manage a few dangerous counterattacks, a few coming off giveaways by the U.S. in midfield, but the backs managed to run everything down.

O’Reilly had a fine game for the USA at right midfield as the Americans possessed the ball and changed the point-of-attack pace at a much higher level than in the Japan match. O’Reilly was the recipient of several of these weak-side passes and sent in several searching crosses while also earning a few corner kicks.

Before Morgan completed her hat trick, the USA had a few chances to add a fourth goal. Just a few minutes into the second half, O’Reilly hit a perfect cross from the right wing that found Morgan at the far post. She was unmarked, but instead of heading on goal, sent it back into the middle and the ball was cleared after a scramble.

In the 53rd minute, Heath played a fantastic first-time touch out of the air to guide Morgan into the left side of the penalty area. Morgan shot from a sharp angle again, but this time the ball skipped wide right of the goal.

In the 58th minute, O’Reilly sent a corner kick from the right side all the way to the far post where Shannon Boxx got a solid head on the ball, sending it on frame. A Swedish defender managed to head to ball off the line and Boxx got shaken up on the play, but rose to finish the match.

In the 69th minute, Amy Rodriguez, who had come on 13 minutes earlier, got around the defense on the left side and cut the ball back for Lloyd but she shot wide right from 15 yards.

Morgan completed her hat trick in the 72nd minute on a magnificent pass from Lauren Cheney, who had come into the match just moments earlier in the center midfield. Cheney jabbed her right foot into the ground and sent a delicate chip over the back line to Morgan, who once again saw Lindahl off her line and lobbed the Swedish ’keeper from 12 yards out. Morgan led the USA in scoring during the tournament with five goals, upping her career total to 21 in 36 international matches.

The U.S. team will now have several weeks off before regrouping at the end of March for the trip to Japan and the two huge matches against the world’s third- and fourth-ranked teams.

Additional Match Notes:

  • Germany took the Algarve Cup title – its second – with a dramatic 4-3 victory against Japan. With the score tied 2-2 in the final minutes, the Germans converted a penalty kick in the 89th minute. Japan equalized a minute later and then the Germans scored in stoppage time to win it.
  • The Algarve Cup will have a major impact on the next FIFA Women’s World Rankings that come out March 16. Third-ranked Japan beat the top-ranked USA but lost to second-ranked Germany, which also beat fifth-ranked Sweden, as did the USA. Stay tuned.
  • The U.S. victory broke a streak of three straight non-wins against the Swedes. The USA lost 2-1 in January of 2011 at the Four Nations Tournament in China, fell 2-1 in group play at the Women’s World Cup and tied 1-1 in the final match of 2011 in Glendale, Ariz.
  • The USA out-played Sweden in all three matches in 2011 but got the finishes it needed on Wednesday, striking all but two of its 13 shots on goal.
  • The 4-0 result marked the USA’s largest margin of victory ever over Sweden. The Americans had won five games previously by 3-0 scores.
  • In the other placement matches, the Republic of Ireland beat Hungary, 2-1 for 11th place, China edged host Portugal 1-0 for ninth, Norway defeated Wales 3-0 for seventh and Denmark defeated Iceland 3-1 for fifth.

– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: March 7, 2012
Competition: 2012 Algarve Cup – Third-Place Match
Venue: Estadio Municipal Bela Vista; Parchal, Portugal
Kickoff: 11 a.m. Local / 6 a.m. ET
Attendance: 400
Weather: 63 degrees, sunny, windy

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                            3          1          4
SWE                            0          0          0

USA – Alex Morgan (Heather O’Reilly)                     4th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Tobin Heath)                           33
USA – Abby Wambach (Christie Rampone)              36
USA – Alex Morgan (Lauren Cheney)                       72

USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler, 5-Kelley O’Hara; 9-Heather O’Reilly (15-Megan Rapinoe, 71), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (12-Lauren Cheney, 71), 17-Tobin Heath (8-Amy Rodriguez, 56); 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach (11-Sydney Leroux, 82)
Subs not used: 1-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 14-Stephanie Cox, 16-Lori Lindsey, 22-Whitney Engen
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 2-Charlotte Rohlin (capt.), 2-Stina Segerstrom (7-Linda Sembrant, 46), 6-Sara Thunebro, 13-Emma Berglund (20-Marie Hammaström, 85); 5-Caroline Seger, 11-Antonia Göransson (10-Sofia Jakobsson, 63), 14-Johanna Almgren (18-Nilla Fischer, 46), 15-Therese Sjögran (19-Susanne Moberg, 88), 17-Lisa Dahlkvist; 8-Lotta Schelin (9-Jessica Landstrom)
Subs not used: 4-Annica Svensson, 12-Kristin Hammarstrom, 16-Madelaine Edlund, 21-Sofia Lundgren
Head coach: Thomas Dennerby

Statistical Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 13 / 8
Shots on Goal: 11 / 7
Saves: 7 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 5 / 9
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Morag Pirie (SCO)
Assistant Referee: Sian Massey (ENG)
Assistant Referee: Eveline Bolli (SUI)
4th Official: Nami Sato (JPN)

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