USWNT 2:1 Australia
By Kara McDermott
It was a game of two halves as the USWNT came back from an early deficit to defeat Australia 2-1 in Carson, California as part of the Women’s National Team victory tour.
Outgoing coach Pia Sundhage didn’t make many changes to the starting line-up that crushed Costa Rica 8-0 in their last match, but facing another top-ten team proved to be a challenge for the home team.
The first half was characterized by a US team that is not usually seen; one manipulated by their opponents. Australia controlled most of the movement of play. Though the teams went into the locker rooms with the US ahead in total shots and the teams tied in shots on goals, the US offense was largely unseen until the last 10 minutes of the first half, and the shots did not present much danger to goalkeeper Brianna Davey.
The US failed to utilize their greatest strength: space. Megan Rapinoe, who was so instrumental on the outside midfield during the Olympics, condensed inside, leaving her lane open and on the right side. The Socceroos shut down the center of the field, effectively stunting the Americans’ ability to advance on goal.
Lisa De Vanna proved why she is the most lethal Matilda by exploiting this opening. In the 34th minute, she received a ball about five yards on the left side inside her defensive half . Sweeper Christie Rampone was stationed on her back, but De Vanna turned and burned the veteran defender and ran the ball 50 yards into Hope Solo’s penalty area with Rampone the only defender in position to give chase. The Aussie finished her march with a textbook left-footed shot to the upper far corner past Solo.
The second half marked a definite improvement for the US side. Four subs at half turned around the positioning issues, including Heather O’Reilly to stretch the field and Shannon Boxx to organize the center.
O’Reilly made an immediate impact by assisting Seattle Sounder Alex Morgan in the 55th minute. The midfielder fed a sharp pass forward across the field to Morgan, who received it just outside the box on the right. The speedster touched the ball ahead and then cut around a defender to set up her right foot to bury the ball past Davey.
With the US back to their trademark spunk and style, the wheels of the game began to turn in the other direction. Both Sundhage and Tom Sermnanni pumped in fresh legs, but aided by the great efforts of sub Amy Rodriguez, the US spent most of their second half in front of the Australian goal, not allowing the Matildas a single shot for the entire half while more than doubling their their own from seven in the first half to a total of 16.
Boxx pulled the US away for good in the 63rd minute, placing a clinical penalty kick between the right post and Davey’s outstretched hand. Morgan drew the foul after running on to a long ball from Tobin Heath. She touched the ball past the keeper to avoid the dive, but Davey caught her feet and brought her to the turf along with her own defender Teigen Allen. Boxx has now scored in five of the last six matches she has played at the Home Depot Center.
The US continues their unbeaten streak to 15 games, having last lost to Japan in the Kirin Cup on March 5. Australia will have another chance to disrupt this momentum on Wednesday, September 19 when the two teams will square off again in Colorado. After this, the tour will continue with powerhouse Germany coming to visit on October 20.