CARSON, Calif. — The U.S. women’s national team came from behind to defeat Australia 2-1 in front of 19,851 fans at the Home Depot Center on Sunday afternoon in the second game of the post-Olympic “Fan Tribute Tour.”
Hometown favorites Alex Morgan and Shannon Boxx each scored, with Morgan tying the game in the 55th minute and Boxx converting a penalty kick for the winner in the 63rd minute.
Australia struck first, with Lisa de Vanna leaving U.S. defender Christie Rampone behind as she raced from the middle of the field and placed her shot into the upper right of the goal in the 34th minute of play
“If you look at the first half, eh, wasn’t happy about that, but then they turn it around,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “They come back. That’s typical for this team, you know, coming back and never, ever give up.”
The U.S. stepped up its game in the second half, with Boxx, Heather O’Reilly, Heather Mitts, and Rachel Buehler coming in and helping to speed up the tempo of the game.
“I think our subs did a fantastic job for us,” said forward Abby Wambach. “I think that Heather O’Reilly and Shannon Boxx changed the game. Shannon just has a knack for winning balls and spraying it wide, which is what we needed to do in the first half.”
O’Reilly sent a pass to Morgan, who cut around her defender and scored with a hard shot to the back of the net.
Eight minutes later, Morgan chased down a pass into the box and was tripped up as both Australian goalkeeper Brianna Davey, who charged Morgan, and trailing defender Laura Aleway also went down on the play. Aleway left the field with an injury and the U.S. was awarded a penalty kick. Although Wambach is usually the go-to, she gifted it to Boxx.
“Abby usually takes that kick, but she came over and asked me if I wanted it,” Boxx said. “I really wanted it, so I went the direction I felt comfortable and was lucky it went in the net.”
The U.S. outshot the Australians 23 to 8, but only seven of the shots by the Americans were on goal.
“They had a lot of good opportunities in the first half, and there were a couple we were lucky,” Morgan said. “I probably had five or six shots that just went wide. And finally in the second half I got it on frame and got it in.”
For the Australians, their best chances came early in the game, starting with a shot fired over the crossbar by Sarah Walsh in the 4th minute of the game. Caitlin Foord sent a rocket over the head of U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo in the 26th minute, but it deflected off the left post, hit Solo in the back, and somehow stayed out of the goal.
Solo made two saves in the game, while Davies saved five.
With Sundhage coaching just one more game before returning to Sweden to coach its national team, the U.S. women gave their coach a gift after Sunday’s game — a guitar, signed by each of the players. Sundhage wasted no time trying it out, treating the crowd to a few bars of “Jailhouse Rock” while strumming the guitar. Before the game, fans cheered as Sundhage belted out a verse of “You Are My Sunshine” during her pregame interview.
A replacement for Sundhage has not yet been named. The U.S. will play their last game under Sundhage in Commerce City, Colo. on Wednesday, where they will again take on the Australians.
Check out the photo gallery of the game below from Patti Giobetti (Copyright Patricia Giobetti | http://www.printroom.com/pro/psgiobetti):
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