The U.S. women’s national team defeated Japan emphatically on Monday at the Volvo Winners Cup in Halmstad, Sweden, beating the reigning world champions 4-1 behind two goals apiece from Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan.
It was a game of ‘right foot-left foot’ for Morgan, who opened the scoring in just the 3rd minute with a left-footed laser past Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori. Seven minutes later, Megan Rapinoe’s left-footed cross found the outstretched foot of Wambach at the near post and the redirect doubled the U.S. advantage.
Japan got one back in the 26th minute on a diving header from Ayumi Kaihori. Captain Aya Miyama provided the right footed service.
Miyama was active in the second half, too, including a half volley from 30 yards out in the 75th minute which looked destined for the top corner until U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo parried it away.
Morgan struck again – this time with her right foot – in the 61st minute to make it 3-1 before being replaced by Amy Rodriguez in the 69th minute. Just like she did against China three weeks ago, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage pushed her team into a 3-4-3 formation despite the 3-1 lead, inserting forward Sydney Leroux into the match in place of defender Kelley O’Hara in the 81st minute.
Just like against China on May 27, that led to a fourth goal.
Wambach scored her second goal of the day by tapping the ball into the back of the net from six yards out. Wambach found herself unmarked in the box when she headed in Heather O’Reilly’s cross.
The 4-1 victory over Japan snaps the U.S.’ three game win-less streak against their new-found rivals. That began with the July 17 Women’s World Cup final, which the U.S. lost 3-1 on penalty kicks.
“At halftime, Pia said she gained a little bit of confidence and with a game like this heading into the Olympics, it helps our confidence as well,” Morgan said. “It helps us feel at ease with all this preparation that we are putting in. We see the actual results, which is such a great feeling and we are exactly where we want to be heading into the Olympics.”
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