It might not have been pretty, but the U.S. women’s national team finished the two game stand against Russia with another lopsided victory, this one 8-0 in front of 16,133 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.
Russia was able to limit the damage in the first half, with the U.S. only managing to exit the half with a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for Russia, it was an own goal from Elena Terekhova. After Megan Rapinoe sent the ball in off a corner kick in the 12th minute, Whitney Engen took aim. The ball ricocheted off the post, then off Terekhova and in for the only goal of the half.
The U.S. struggled to complete passes in the final third for most of the first half. Despite plenty of possession, Russia had clearly made adjustments after the the 7-0 thumping in Boca Raton.
“The first half was a little bit more difficult in this game,” said Tom Sermanni, who has still yet to lose a match as U.S. coach (16-0-3). “We’ve been two days stuck up in the hotel and I think that was noticeable in the first half. And in fairness to Russia they had obviously done their homework from the last game and in the first half made it quite difficult for us.”
It only got worse for Russia in the second half, and it started with another own goal, this time from Valentina Orlova. It was the first of 3 goals the U.S. would add to the scoreline in 4 minutes. Amy Rodriguez volleyed in a cross from Heather O’Reilly in the 52nd minute, and in the 54th, Abby Wambach added her own at point-blank range after a collision with Russian goalkeeper Maria Zhamanakova.
“The difference in the second half was we got two early goals,” Sermanni said. “As soon as we got the two early goals that basically finished the game from the standpoint of Russia probably being able to come back and win the game. So after that I think we got into stride, the space opened up a little more, and we started to create a few more changes.”
The U.S. would add six of their own in total in the second half.
Next up, Morgan Brian and Megan Rapinoe combined in the 65th minute to make it 5-0. Rodriguez dropped the ball to Brian, who rifled one from about twenty-five yards out. Rapinoe was in the path of the ball, and got a touch on it with her head to deflect it past Zhamanakova.
In the 80th minute, Lauren Holiday was dragged down by a Russian defender in the box. Both the call and the conversion in the 81st minute were easy, as Holiday went left and Zhamanakova guessed right.
Two minutes later, Budweiser Woman of the Match Heather O’Reilly scored her second goal of the USA-Russia series to make it 7-0. Christen Press had just entered the match for Abby Wambach, and immediately made her presence felt with the assist. She didn’t have to wait long to add the finishing touch on the match when she scored the final U.S. goal in the 83rd minute. Despite being surrounded by four Russian players, all four declined to challenge her for the ball in the 18, and she was able to turn and put one on frame.
The game was also notable for the return of Kelley O’Hara after an eight-month long recovery from ankle surgery. She started the match and played 33 minutes before Kristie Mewis replaced her as left back. While there wasn’t much for O’Hara to do, she has looked solid in U.S. practices, and there was no hesitation to her step on the field at the Georgia Dome tonight.
“I felt really good,” said O’Hara, who was born in Fayateville, Georgia. “The game plan was 30 minutes and I got through that. I felt confident and comfortable. It was just nice to put on a jersey and play in a real game.”
Two matches, two shut-outs, and a 15-0 goal advantage to the United States. There wasn’t much to learn from the two games against Russia for Tom Sermanni, but the extra time in camp ahead of the Algarve Cup in March may be all the benefit they need.
-additional reporting by Steve Bruno
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