Mon 28.May 2012 13:18 Tanya Taylor,
USA beats China in a friendly
Alex Morgan scored 2 goals yesterday
Taken from
The U.S. Women’s National Team fell behind early but roared back to score four unanswered goals to defeat China 4-1 in the second-to-last domestic match before the team leaves for the 2012 Olympics. A sell-out crowd of 18,573 boisterous fans filled PPL Park to the brims as the Americans put on an entertaining show, scoring twice in each half.

Forward Alex Morgan scored two goals, sandwiched around a China own goal, while forward Abby Wambach capped the night with a spectacular finish seven minutes from the end of the game.

“I’m very happy scoring goals but the happiest thing for us was we changed the game,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “We struggled a bit in the first half but we turned it around in the second half and the crowd was great. You look at the crowd like this and it makes a difference. In the Olympics we’ll have big crowds and in the World Cup we had big crowds. You have to deal with that feeling and you should take advantage of it. Playing in front of this crowd is almost like having a 12th player and it’s fantastic.”

The U.S. team came out a bit jittery in the opening stages of the game and in just the fourth minute gave up a dangerous chance as Han Peng got loose in the left side of the penalty box. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo chose to hold her ground, and from a sharp angle, Peng scraped her shot off the crossbar.

The USA then started to exert its game on the Chinese with Megan Rapinoe putting the ball through the legs of a Chinese defender on the left end line in the seventh minute, only to shoot into the side netting.

In the 19th minute, a long ball into the Chinese penalty area was headed up in the air and it fell to Carli Lloyd in the middle of the box, but she struck her full volley high over the net.

Lloyd had an even better chance one minute later after Heather O’Reilly made a darting run down the right wing and cut back a pass to Morgan in the slot. She took a touch and fired from close range at Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yue, who made the save but pushed the ball into the middle. Lloyd was perfectly postioned for the rebound and kept this shot low. It was surely headed into the net before the ball hit the leg of a fortunate Chinese defender and skidded wide left of the goal.

China scored in the 22nd minute against the run of play after Lloyd was disposed by several pressuring defenders near the top of the box on the left side. The ball rolled to Lou Jiahui who drove her dribble at U.S. captain Christie Rampone before dishing into the left side of the penalty area to Zhang Rui. The Chinese attacker was able to dribble uncontested almost all the way to the near post before slotting home low into the right corner.

It took the USA only a dozen minutes to equalize and it came off a turnover in the Chinese defensive third. O’Reilly darted in to win a ball down the right wing and then accelerated into the penalty area before trying to find Morgan again in the slot. A defender got a foot on the ball, but it was deflected right into the path of Morgan who clinically bent her left-footed shot into the lower left corner from 14 yards out.

Just two minutes later the USA took the lead as Rapinoe served a free kick from the left wing into a dangerous spot at the far post. The ball was headed up into the air by a Chinese defender and it fell to Shannon Boxx, who sent her header back into the pack of players inside the six yard box. Wambach then got a head on it to nod the ball towards the net where it bounced in front of defender Zhou Gaoping, who found her body in poor position to clear. She tried to head the ball away, but instead sent it past her own goalkeeper and trickling into the lower right corner.

In the 38th minute, Morgan foreshadowed her second goal when she latched onto a ball at midfield before turning and burning all the way inside the penalty box. She had a good look at goal, but slapped her right-footed shot wide right.

China had pretty much its final really dangerous chance of the game just before halftime off a free kick that was served well into the penalty area. Solo came out to punch, but a challenging Chinese attacker forced the ball to bounce high in the air. Solo lost sight of the ball for a moment, but fortunately it was headed over the goal and settled into the top of the net.

Morgan added her second of the game, and team-leading 14th of the year, in the 50th minute off a fantastic long ball from Rampone. Under pressure after a back pass from Amy LePeilbet, Rampone hit a first time ball over the back line to the streaking Morgan, who out-muscled and then out-ran the Chinese center back before placing her left-footed shot past Zhang and into the lower right corner from 18 yards out.

Sundhage made two substitutions at halftime, sending on Lauren Cheney for Lloyd and Amy Rodriguez for O’Reilly and the Americans totally dominated the second 45 minutes. Cheney played extremely well in the center of the midfield, helping the USA catch a nice attacking rhythm that caused China to chase for most of the second half.

Shots from Rapinoe and Rodriguez inside the first 15 minutes of the second half didn’t miss the frame by much as the Americans, unlike in the first half, totally controlled the pace and tempo the game.

The fourth and final goal originated from a throw-in from the right side as Morgan threw the ball to Wambach, who spun around a defender to the end line and let the ball skip through into the penalty area. She then smashed her shot into the upper left corner from a sharp angle, giving Zhang no chance.

Sundhage also gave Rampone, who earned her 257th career cap, a breather during at the end of the game, sending on Becky Sauerbrunn in the 62nd minute.

Prior to the game, Sundhage named the 2012 Olympic Team, choosing the 18 players who will travel to the U.K. this summer in quest for a gold medal. Seventeen players from the Olympic Team suited up for the USA against China with midfielder Tobin Heath – who is still rehabilitating an ankle injury – the only omission. She was replaced on the game day roster by Olympic alternate Meghan Klingenberg.

Twenty-two-year-old Sydney Leroux, the youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and only player on the squad who was not a member of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team, also got a run in. She came on for Amy LePeilbet in the 81st minute as the USA went into a 3-4-3 formation until the end of the match.

The U.S. team will now have a week off before heading to Sweden for matches against the Swedes and Japan, but will play its Olympic send-off game on June 30 against Canada at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. MT and almost 10,000 tickets have already been sold. The match will be broadcast live on NBC.

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