US women beat Iceland 3-0 in Algarve Cup opener

Jeff Kassouf March 6, 2013 42
Rachel Buehler

Rachel Buehler scored in her 100th appearance for the United States. (Photo Copyright: Patti Giobetti | http://www.printroom.com/pro/psgiobetti)

Rachel Buehler scored inn her 100th cap and Abby Wambach drew within four goals of Mia Hamm’s all-time international scoring record as the United States women’s national beat Iceland 3-0 in the opening game the Algarve Cup for each team.

Buehler, wearing the captain’s armband as per US Soccer tradition for players in their 100th cap, opened the scoring in the 48th minute, heading in a Lauren Cheney corner kick.

“Usually we hit the corner kicks back post, but it came right to my head and I was ready and it was probably the best goal I’ve had,” Buehler told ussoccer.com after the game.

The US doubled the lead in the 62nd minute on another Cheney free kick, which was redirected by Christie Rampone into the path of the Shannon Boxx, who headed it into the back of the net.

Wambach struck for her 154th career international goal in the 74th minute. Alex Morgan picked off an errant back pass and centered a square ball to Wambach for the easy tap-in.

Goalkeeper Jill Loyden made just her third career start and University of North Carolina defender and 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner Crystal Dunn made her first career start for the US, sliding in at right back.

Next up for the US is a Friday match (9 a.m. ET) vs. China.

Highlights and postgame reaction from US Soccer are below:

Other Algarve Cup results:

Group A: Norway 2-0 Japan, Denmark 0-0 Germany
Group B: Sweden 1-1 China
Group C: Mexico 1-0 Hungary, Portugal 2-0 Wales

Cyprus Cup results:
Group A:
England 4-2 Italy, New Zealand 1-0 Scotland
Group B: Canada 2-0 Switzerland, Netherlands 1-1 Finland
Group C: Republic of Ireland 5-1 Northern Ireland, South Korea 2-0 South Africa

  • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

    While it wasnt pretty they were only one of the four top rated teams to get a win. I love Sermanni’s confidence in his players. To give them a real chance to prove themselves, not just a few meaningless minutes at the end of out of reach games.

    • Anon

      To be fair, he did a bit of that in the Scotland friendlies. It was a bit disappointing to me, as someone who believes in Julie Johnston, to see her get ~10 minutes off the bench in the first match, then Engen get a full 90 in the second one. Wasn’t surprising after that to see Engen make the roster and JJ not, although at least she got game time with the U23s.

      • Steglitz49

        Ms Engen is 25 and has a fine soccer resume while Ms Johnston is 20 and starting to accumulate one. Age must, obviously, not be a barrier; Ms Kumagai was 20 when she slammed in that final nail into the coffin.

        On the other hand, Whitney will play in the FAWSL for Liverpool which will add to her experience, having also played a few games for Tyresö. Maybe TS also is sending a signal? Go abroad if your spirit takes you there because TS will not discriminate against you.

        You will be surprised how many top players around the world play abroad. They used to come to USA and hopefully one day they will again.

      • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

        Johnston was a victim of a numbers game. I think Johnston will get her chance but it was clear that he has Engen rated higher on the depth chart based on the camp.

      • vert2013

        The whole point of the Scotland friendlies was for Sermanni to see a lot of players. This is a tournament, while it’s not the Olympics or WWC it’s still a tournament where the objective is to win.

        • Steglitz49

          The objective is to learn and have fun. Enjoy playing against top teams in a comradely spirit of mutual trust.

          Remember who won the Algarve in 2011 and who are World Champions.

  • vert2013

    The game was pretty disappointing to be honest. The midfield was a complete mess with the exception of HAO and Alex and Abby didn’t look that sharp either (although I think that was more of a result of the midfield failing to get the ball up to them). I’m curious as to why Sermanni only used 1 sub though. There were plenty of players that needed to be relieved especially towards the end.

    • Steglitz49

      Your point is well taken. One should use all subs in these training matches because that is what they are: opportunities to experiment.

      Sadly, those around the USWNT seem to see this Algarve as an extension of the Fans Victory tour, a totally incomprehensible view to take. Win at all costs. More people watched France draw 2-2 with Brazil last night than will go to all the Algarve matches together. Let the Algarve be the Algarve — it grew out of a training camp and ought to be played in that spirit of mutual trust and comradeliness.

      • LCLondoner

        I’m not sure where you get the idea that the new management has a “win at all costs” mentality. Tom Sermanni, it seems to me, is his own man, with his own theory and strategy. How about we wait just a while (maybe more than, say, 3 games?) to see how it plays out, before indulging in tedious stone-throwing. I thought the first half was poor – as Sermanni admitted afterwards, – and the second half was a huge improvement, to the point where we looked like we might score with every attack. Next game up, he may select a very different line-up, which would suggest only that he wants to see how a formation performs over close to a full game, rather than in meaningless snippets here and there.

        • Steglitz49

          About 25 years ago the Swedish women’s national began traveling abroad to train for the spring season. Cyprus was their first location. They soon played with the other Nordic ladies teams.

          When the Swedish FA expressed a desire to run a training tournament based around the Nordic countries in the Algarve, the Portuguese FA bent over backwards to help. Thus, from 1994, the Nordics moved to the Algarve and the tournament has grown to be the world’s best alongside the official championships.

          Hopefully this year’s anniversary tournament will be special. Norway reigned in the early 90’s and played in four out of the first five finals of the Algarve Cup’s, but not in 1996, when Sweden beat Denmark.

          As time went by the Algarve Cup became a “Little World Cup”. Initially Germany could not imagine shifting its Bundesliga but finally relented. Japan is the last of the top nations that regularly booked into the Algarve Cup.

          In the early days the newly built luxury resort Villamoura was the base. At that time, the playing fields in the small coastal towns was probably not the smoothest, but what did that matter when the grass was thick and the air sweet for those who had trained on dirt in the cold during the winter.

          It is that joy, fun, exploration and exhilaration that must not be lost from ladies football.

        • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

          Exactly. The idea that u learn anything from a 10 minute cameo against tired players is silly. Dunn got a chance to prove herself and did pretty well. She made mistakes but got the chance to work thru them. Im sure Sermanni has a much better picture of what Dunn brings to his team now. I expect more of the same against China. A back line of Krieger, Sauerbrunn, Engen and O’Hara in front of Harris wouldnt surprise me. Ull definitely see Heath and Rapinoe on the wings. U may also see him sit Wambach or play her a half at most.

      • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

        I still believe the sub pattern was based on lack of rest between games. With only one day off til the next game I expect u will see a lot of changes to the starting line-up for China. I would expect Rapinoe, Heath, Krieger, Engen and Sauerbrunn to get the call. Im not sure he revamps the midfield with Mewis and Averbuch but I bet they play. Same with the front line. U may see Wambach and Morgan give u a half. This way he has fresh players instead of tired ones on the field.

        • Steglitz49

          He only used one substitute. That was an error of judgement. In the Algarve you use your full compliment.

          • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

            He said in an interview it was his plan to get as many players as possible 90 minutes in the first two games. If the second group handles China he’ll get two days before Sweden and have a well rested squad.

          • Steglitz49

            TS is the manager and must do what he thinks is best. It seems odd though not to bring on substitutes around the 60-65 minute mark, maybe keep one in reserve to cover a late injury but bring her on with 10 min to play.

            I think he got caught by surprise by Iceland and got cold feet. Sweden drawing with China was annoying; USA with Iceland would have been embarrassing. Maybe the ghost of Völler flitted by in his peripheral visual field?

  • heremerawr

    There’s nothing wrong with critiquing the team’s performance, especially since a majority of the starters were veterans. That said, I also have great faith in TS, and I believe he will correct the situation experienced in the game yesterday. However, even if he does change the lineup, I’m sure several core players will stick around for next game, namely AM and Abby, because AM needs a goal to get her confidence back, and I’m almost positive TS wants her to break Mia’s record for the sake of fostering public support.
    Also, I was contemplating the issue of older players staying on (because I’m clearly lacking in the life department haha), and I think the main issue is the fact that everyone in the older generation, excluding Christie Rampone, have not yet won a World Cup, and they really want a chance to experience that glory, Abby especially. So… yeah. Selfish? Of course. But I can’t really blame them for wanting the trophy after all this time. If we’d won the last World Cup, I get the feeling that we’d see more people retiring willingly.

    • Steglitz49

      It is easy to forget that in 2 years ago USA beat Iceland in the Algarve final and Japan took 3rd place by beating Sweden. Later that year, when it mattered, Japan became World Champions and Sweden got 3rd place, the USA having been fortunate to lose to Sweden in the group game and not the knock-out stage.

      I am disappointed that TS has not been pruning more ruthlessly. Ring out the old; ring in the new! He clearly must be under considerable pressure to win this tournament which grew out of the Nordic countries having winter training camp together. Why does the USA (and Canada) always have to win at all cost? Japan remain World Champions till 2015 whatever happens in Algarve this year and the next 2 years. Get a life!

      High time to cut off the pony-tails and dye an orange streak down the middle and play with flags painted on your cheeks or whatever floats your boat. Use a set of practice matches for what they were designed for: experimenting!

      • Greg

        I think the “pruning” will come. It’s still early. A lot of the players people want to see pruned I think can still play at this level. I do wish that Sermanni brought a few more young players to this tournament- but I don’t think he’s under any sort of pressure to win it. I don’t think he wanted to be embarrassed (Algarve Cup 2001), but I don’t see a reason he would be under pressure already.

  • Anton

    I think Tom has to take a page out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s book here in regards to Alex. Her confidence is shot, similar to how Jozy Altidore’s was for the Nats last year. Now was/is it all on Altidore/Morgan? No. The lack of service is one of the main reasons for both of their struggles, but you can tell that they’re both pressing too hard to make something happen.

    What did Klinsmann do? Not call in Jozy for the final two WCQ matches last year. I’m not suggesting that Sermanni go anywhere near that far. But having her sit for the next match against China (and depending on her response, possibly the Sweden match) would be my suggestion, not only to give her a chance to calm down and relax but also show her, hey, you’re replaceable. If you’re not scoring and Leroux and/or Press are, I have to go with them.

    But did Klinsmann’s tactic work? I’d say yes. Jozy’s been tearing the Dutch league a new one and put in a decent 90 minutes for the MNT against Honduras (albeit, he didn’t score, but he put in a much better performance). Alex needs a fire lit under her and seeing as she’s a fierce competitor, taking her away from the competition and showing her that her spot is not 100% safe may be the fire she needs. Unpopular opinion, probably, but that’s just what I’d do if I were Sermanni.

    • Steglitz49

      Careful, Anton. Klinsmann only took a favored side on home ground to the SF. It was Derwall and Völler who took Germany to the final and, of course, the Kaiser who managed the last cup-winning side.

      Has Alex recovered fully from her injury? That is the question. With USA’s strength in depth, a bit of experimenting would not come amiss in a tournament that grew out of winter training for the Nordic countries.

      In short, the USA has got to stop viewing the Algarve cup as an extension of the Fans Victory tour and start going on the field to play. Have some fun! Let your hair down. Enjoy yourselves.

      • Anton

        Huh? That German side in ’06 wasn’t favored, at all. In fact, there were contingency plans to fire Klinsmann before and even during the WC if things got embarrassing, that’s how bad the locals thought it was going to be. Listen, I’m far from Jurgen’s biggest fan, but lets give him credit where credit is due in regards to the 2006 World Cup. The DFB wanted him back remember.

        You’re right about the U.S. (players and coaches both) needing to use the Algarve as a guide to future WC’s and Olympics instead of like a friendly January.

        • Steglitz49

          The criticism of JK by Germans was mainly owed to him living in LA and being perceived as parachuting in for the odd training sessions and bringing with him American style sport psychologists and other stuff. Those seemed alien to a country with a fine tradition in football.

          America must expand its league game-system rapidly. They, and the demented beavers with wood-chippers up north, must get into the spirit of the common person’s game. Everyone knows that America has fabulous lady players and strength in depth and that only the very best teams can beat them. What else is new?

          Relax. Use all substitutes. Enjoy each day as it comes. Open another bottle of Vinho Verde. Do like Petter Northug: chuck the TV-reporter into the pool whilst snatching the microphone from her, all live on TV. That’s the spirit!

          • Anton

            Yeah, it was different, but it worked. Not to mention, Low is still using most of Jurgen’s ‘foreign techniques’. That doesn’t change the fact that in the run up to the 2006 WC everyone from the head of the DFB to the drunk on the streets of Frankfurt was scared to death going into that tournament at how bad it was going to be.

            No idea what you’re getting at in paragraphs 2-3. All I got out of it are Canadians are demented beavers and Petter Northug throws reporters into pools.

          • NYRick

            LOL. You got it hand it to Steglitz though. He’s got a creative flair for the metaphors.

          • Don B.

            Yes, he does. I love reading his posts – you often learn something and get a good laugh at the same time.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you and NYRick for your kind words. I will try to keep up the standard. btw are you an opera fan?

    • vert2013

      I think for a player like Alex, sitting her would be the worst possible route to go. It’ll kill her confidence even more. She’s in a goal scoring slump, but just watching her you can see how frustrated and hungry she is and it’s not like she’s not playing well in other areas. Against Scotland in JAX she realized she was triple teamed and created room for her teammates and she’s had a handful of assists. Yeah she’s not scoring, but she’s not playing terribly either.

      • Steglitz49

        I doubt if Ms Morgan lacks confidence. She may not have recovered totally from her injury. Also, the midfield may not have been up to its task.

    • Don B

      I’m not so sure that Alex has a confidence problem. I know it was only a practice scrimmage divided into 30 minute segments, but against Denmark she scored two fantastic goals in the first 30 (especially the second). Also, she and Press had an opportunity for a magnificent goal, with Press bringing the ball up the right side, crossing it to the box with Morgan making a full on baby horse run from midfield. The keeper, the ball and Morgan all reached the same spot at the same time a foot outside the goal, and if the keeper had been a half second later it would have been a superb display (instead of simply excellent) of teamwork between the two. As an aside, Morgan and Leroux were both at midfield when Press started her dribble, and only Morgan anticipated.

      Morgan does get frustrated when her shots aren’t finding home, but that is not the same as losing confidence. She herself has said that a forward’s life is sometimes one of luck, and that one day ten shots can be made and none will go in, and other days all ten will find the back of the net. She’s a perfectionist, and will always criticize herself, but she also is one who will work hard to change it. She’ll be fine.

    • NYRick

      Alex is going to be just fine. C’mon, she only played a half of the first Scotland game and missed the second, and in the Iceland game she was extremely active despite not getting proper service from the midfield. I don’t get this massive slump or pressing that people are talking about. I’m just happy she’s running fine and looking healthy after her injury last month.

      She is absolutely the least thing to worry about on this team. The goals will come. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if she netted at least two against China. If fact, it would surprise me if she didn’t. And she doesn’t have to sit. Maybe play her 60-70 minutes in the China game and save her for the full 90 against Sweden and Japan or Germany in the fourth game.

      The key for Alex this year is to hopefully develop a chemistry with Press. The two together are going to something to watch in the next two years leading to WC15, and also playing well for her club team in the NWSL. I don’t worry about Alex. She is the real deal.

      • Steglitz49

        Provided Alex gets proper service from midfield she will score or pass to someone better place than herself. For the US the midfield may be a harder nut to crack, though if one assumes that Tobin will play on the left, you only have to pencil in the other three.

        Let’s leave the defense and wing-backs till after a real test because one cannot judge them yet, except if there is an upset, in which case there will be no mercy.

    • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

      Wow! Not even a game and a half and we need to bench Morgan. First of all, Morgan would continue to play even if her goal production fell way off. She creates easy goals for other people and thats as valuable as finishing. She had one assist against Iceland and should have had two more against Scotland. She put a ball on Press’ foot about a minute in that Press crushed but it pinged off a defender standing on the goal line. She also fed Wambach a nice ball that went wide. I’ll start worrying about Morgan when she cant get her shot off. She got a ton of shots against Iceland but had trouble keeping them on frame. She can create her own shots seemingly at will and as long as she can do that the goals will come.

      • Don B.

        I think she’s saving up to score a six-pack against Sweden in Pia’s honor.

        • NYRick

          Pia is going to be singing the blues after the US game. Hat trick for Alex, but 2 for Press, which would be quite sweet.

          • Don B.

            Wouldn’t it be cool if they both ended up with 3 goals and 3 assists?

  • NYRick

    I’d like to see Kristie Mewis get a half or maybe even 90 against China like Dunn did the first game. It’s the perfect game to do so. Should be a 4-nil game. Against Sweden, there will be a bit of pressure going up against Pia for the first time, and when it gets to the final, the US certainly wants to win the Algarve. Especially if it’s against Germany. Japan looks like it may have already played itself out of the final.

    • Anton

      Agreed on Mewis.

      Have no idea what Japan is doing. Yeah, I get that you want to integrate new, young talent. But wouldn’t you want to have Miyama and Sawa there to help them guide the way?

      • NYRick

        I’m disappointed if it isn’t Japan or Germany in the 4th game for the US. These are the 3 best teams in the world right now, and it would lend itself to some competition. Sometimes, I’d rather the US be playing friendlies against Stanford or N. Carolina. But I have to admit, Iceland played pretty well. Give them credit. A lot tougher than I thought they’d be. They should bury China tomorrow though. Especially with Tobin back on the pitch. Look for a big game from AM. It’s happening.

        • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

          With US playing Germany in April a final against them would be redundant. I would have preferred Japan but if Norway beats Germany then theyll be a good test for the US. Sometimes being hot transcends ranking.

          • NYRick

            Good point. Forgot about the 2 Germany matches. But it still is always nice to play one of your top rivals with something at stake. When it gets to a final, Germany will want it bad too. The two Germany matches in April are still friendlies. Also, maybe Norway is ready to enter the fray as one of the better teams again now too. They do have a good pedigree in this sport.

          • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

            Ha Ha…matches against Germany r friendly in name only. I think its one against Germany and one against The Netherlands but both will be tough on the road.

      • Steglitz49

        Japan are experimenting wildly, as is their wont. They bring the youngest team — average age 24 yrs — and they are on average 5 cm taller than the team that played in London 2012! They also have found a goalie >6 ft tall but whether she is on this trip I can’t remember.

        Miyama, the glorious midfield-general with the sweet boot for freekicks and penalties, will no doubt be in Canada if she is fit; of Sawa I am not convinced.