VANCOUVER, B.C. – Team USA took to the pitch yesterday afternoon to play their second game of the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament against 85th ranked Guatemala. Guatemala looked over-matched even before the game started when they came onto the field for the national anthems. As a result Team USA cruised to an easy 13-0 victory and now sit a top of “Group B” thanks to goal differential over Mexico. Mexico and the US will meet up on Tuesday night at BC Place Stadium to determine who finishes first in the group and most likely avoids a semi-final game against host country Canada.
The star player against Guatemala was Canadian born forward Sydney Leroux who grew up in Surrey, BC, but moved to the US as a teenager. Leroux came on at half-time for Abby Wambach and scored five fantastic goals. Leroux’s first goal came in the 48th minute when she dribbled towards the slot and rifled the ball into the top right corner. Leroux’s second goal was headed in after a tremendous cross was delivered to the back left post by Amy Rodriguez. In the 58th minute Leroux dove feet first to get a piece of the ball and direct it into the net. The fourth goal for Leroux came in the 70th minute when she scored off another header, after a terrific cross from Kelley O’Hara. Leroux’s fifth and final goal was setup by Amy Rodriguez in the 87th minute. This was Leroux’s first career five-goal game and it came in only her second appearance at the international level for the US. Leroux had this to say about her performance after the game: “My teammates gave me some great balls and I put them away and did what I was supposed to do with them. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks and I’m so blessed to be able to play with these girls. They make me better everyday so I give my thanks to them.”
Abby Wambach got her team going early when she scored the first two goals of the game for the US. With her 128th, and 129th goals Wambach moved past German striker Birgit Prinz for third on the all-time international goal scoring list for Women’s Soccer. Wambach is one goal back of retired American Kristine Lilly. Wambach had an assist on Amy Rodriguez’s breakaway goal in the 29th minute. After the game Wambach talked about facing Mexico next: “That’s obviously the game that’s been marked on our calendar this entire tournament. Whoever wins that game goes through out of our group in first place. That’s what were thinking about and were prepared for it.”
Kelley O’Hara had a great game for Team USA with 3 assists which included setting up Lori Lindsey for her 1st career international goal with the US. O’Hara sent in a cross that Lindsey headed home past Guatemalan goalkeeper Maricruz Lemus in the 34th minute.
Besides bringing in sharpshooter Sydney Leroux at half-time the US also made two more substitutions at the half. Shannon Boxx came on for Carli Lloyd, and Alex Morgan came on for Lauren Cheney. Cheney scored her second goal of the tournament in the 24th minute and also contributed an assist. After coming on, Alex Morgan showed great flashes of skill and talent with a goal and 3 assists. Morgan has such great vision and chemistry with her teammates she should be a permanent fixture in Team USA’s lineup for years to come.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe from Redding, California had a great game. Rapinoe came close to scoring early on when her shot on target almost snuck past the Guatemalan goalkeeper. Rapinoe did eventually find the net in the 75th minute when her shot hit the crossbar and bounced down just past the goal-line. This was Rapinoe’s first action in the tournament and she played excellent. US Coach Pia Sundhage will have quite a few decisions to make when filling out her lineup for the game against Mexico.
Coach Sundhage was quite pleased with her team’s performance. Kelley O’Hara made some great plays at outside back filling in for Ali Krieger who tore her ACL and MCL last game against the Dominican Republic. Krieger will be out for 6-8 months and will likely miss the London Olympics if Team USA qualifies. Krieger will be leaving Vancouver today to return home and begin the long road back to recovery. Coach Sundhage had a few things to share with the media after her teams mind-blowing win. “This is a unique situation. I think it’s astonishing, coming off the bench and scoring so many goals. I’m so proud and happy to be around this team. I’m happy for the team and I’m happy for Syd (Sydney Leroux) today.”
Coach Sundhage on facing Mexico next: “I will look at the two games we’ve played and I’ll look at our strengths and of course how Mexico has been playing in their two games. This is 2012 and we want to qualify.”
Hope Solo had another easy night in net and has yet to face any difficult shots on target. Guatemala’s best chance to score came in the 23rd minute off a set piece. Maria Monterroso headed the ball just wide of the top right corner. Hope Solo should see plenty of action on Tuesday night when Team USA takes on Mexico at 7:30pm at BC Place. Mexico has scored 12 goals (combined) in their first two games against Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
Amy Rodriguez scored her 6th goal of the tournament in the 29th minute and Carli Lloyd scored her 2nd goal of the tournament in the 33rd minute.
Notes: The announced attendance for the game was 6,259.