I must say that it was refreshing to find an opponent that wasn’t totally overwhelmed by the USWNT. I was entirely impressed by the fight, skill and organization of this young team. Several players, including the keeper are under 20. I honestly don’t know how our under 20 team would do against our senior team. I wonder if they would do as well.
This game found the US on their heels in the first half. The cross bar was the difference in a possible 3-nil lead for the Matildas going into the half. As it was, they only lead by one going into the locker room at the half. Abby Wambach had very little to do in this game. Megan Rapinoe was basically shut down as well, so all of the action was going down the left side for the US. Heath and Morgan, along with Lloyd and Cheney did what they could to no avail.
It took until the final fifteen minutes of the first half before the US actually seemed to wake up. They appeared rusty, out of sync and uninspired in the first 30 minutes or so. I found myself wondering if the US were going to let the Matilda’s take this one. Alex Morgan was having a hard time getting behind their line, and when she did, she had little help getting the ball into the back of the net.
The player of the match for me was Tobin Heath. She seemed to be one of the only players that had stayed in game shape over their break. Her ball skill is amazing, her vision is stellar, and she definitely came to win. I agree with coach Pia Sundhage, she is the future of this team.
The second half subs made all the difference in this game. Shannon Boxx had one of her better games when she came off the bench. Heather Mitts, Heather O’Reilly and Rachel Buehler rounded out the second half replacements. Each one played a pivotal role in earning the come back win. In fact, it was Buehler who started the play that allowed the tying goal by Morgan. This was Morgan’s 32 international goal, in her 50th cap game. Shannon Boxx scored the winning goal in the 63rd minute with a Penalty Kick, granted for a take down of Morgan in the box. Tobin Heath had made a beautiful through pass for Morgan, which allowed her to take on the keeper 1 vs 1, and the keeper clipped Morgan, sending her sprawling.
Amy Rodriguez subbed in for Abby Wambach in the 67th minute, and immediately caused problems for the young Matilda keeper. She peppered the goal with long range shots, which freed up room on the left for Morgan to make runs. Sydney Leroux subbed on for Alex Morgan in the 78th minute and looked threatening with her speed. Most of the second half found the Matilda’s on the defense, and the US looking much more aggressive and skilled.
This should prove to be a very good game on Wednesday. Game time is at 7:00pm PST, and it will be showing on ESPN2 and streamed on watchESPN. This will be Pia Sundhage’s final game as the head coach. The game is being played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. There will be a game thread at SounderAtHeart.com.