USWNT Soaks China with Five Goals from Five Players

Megan Rapinoe regains her position as Sydney Leroux chases down a loose ball

Megan Rapinoe regains her position as Sydney Leroux chases down a loose ball. Photo: Kara McDermott

China 0 : 5 United States Women’s National Team

By Kara McDermott

The Chinese team had to warm-up in torrential rain before the clouds cleared in Albufeira, and then had to face a deluge of goals by the US side in the second round of group play of the Algarve Cup.

With the 5-0 victory, the US has continued their momentum for top tournament honors, but must first settle with Sweden on Monday.

Head US coach Tom Sermanni trotted out a new line-up – only forward Alex Morgan has started both games – featuring young players and proved the depth of the American squad.

The soggy grounds, spraying water up every time the ball landed and slowing its progress across the turf, highlighted some trouble areas for the US. Particularly in the first 15 minutes, the different combinations of players struggled to organize fluid attacks up the field. With the Chinese coming out strong, there were several instances of poor communication with the defense that led to more chances than keeper Nicole Barnhart surely would have preferred.

She was called into action in the 13th minute when a through ball snuck behind the back line in the box. Clearly expecting an offside call, Barnhart was left on her own with a one-on-one. She came out big and deflected the shot off her chest.

Single-Match-Tickets-V2That scare was surely the turning point, because former Seattle Sounders player Sydney Leroux immediately transitioned down the left side of the field on a long run, marched the ball into the box and returned the favor, only with a more successful end, for the US’ first goal of the match in the 14th minute.

USA 1 : 0 China

The Chinese continued to attack, giving the US another close call in the 18th minute when Wang Lisi slid the ball to Wang Shuang unmarked in the box. Her turn away from the goal allowed the US defense to close in and shut down the danger.

The US held most of the possession and as the game wore on, gave it up less and less to the Chinese. The Chinese touch on the ball seemed crisper and more confident than in their earier game against Sweden, when first touch was a continual downfall. But as the new American lineup gelled, the game shifted towards greater US dominance.

Sermanni was certainly pleased with the results of their pre-game preparation:

“We tried to really pressurize China on their half and make it difficult for them to play technical football and I think we did that exceptionally well. They made some good decsions when they had possession and they scored five goals; there wasn’t many negatives.”

Noticeably absent from the US play though was the coast-to-coast game that has been characteristic of their style. With the saturated turf, lifting the ball across the field and taking advantage of their mostly taller players could have led to a faster game overall.

But nonetheless, they put another goal away on a deep play when Alex Morgan crossed the ball from near the endline to the right post where defender Ali Krieger was ready to finish to the back of the net in the 32nd minute.

USA 2 : 0 China

China held the US at 2-0 until halftime, with help from Zhang Yue who made three successive saves against Morgan in the 37th minute that visibly frustrated the not oft-denied forward.

However, soon after coming out of the lockers, with the sun now out, Tobin Heath drew a foul just outside the box on the right side. Megan Rapinoe stepped up to the shot and powered a shot towards the goal, where it appeared to deflect off a defender and graze the fingers of Yue before heading in for the US’ third goal in the 47th minute.

USA 3 : 0 China

China’s head coach Hao Wei decided to pull Yue and replace her with Wang Fei within five minutes of this goal, but that did little to halt the American onslaught as the Chinese players began to fatigue and run into trouble by drawing three yellow cards.

Zhang Yue was substituted at 3-0

Zhang Yue was substituted at 3-0. Photo: Kara McDermott

Christian Press shot a straight and true ball into the top of the goal mouth for her fourth goal in four games in the 64th minute, sending all the numerologists into overdrive. For extra measure, Whitney Engen rounded out the day with a volley finish in the 84th minute.

USA 5 : 0 China

The most key match for the US will come on Monday March 11, and should prove to be their toughest opponent in group play. They take on Sweden and former coach Pia Sundhage.

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 USA – Sydney Leroux (Alex Morgan)  14th minute
USA – Ali Krieger (Alex Morgan)         32
USA – Megan Rapinoe                       46
USA – Christen Press (Alex Morgan)  64
USA – Whitney Engen                       84

USA : 18-Nicole Barnhart; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), 14-Whitney Engen, 8-Kristie Mewis; 17-Tobin Heath, 16-Yael Averbuch, 23-Christen Press (22-Lindsey Horan, 74), 15-Megan Rapinoe; 2-Sydney Leroux, 13-Alex Morgan (9-Heather O’Reilly, 67)
Substitutions Not Used: 3-Christie Rampone, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Crystal Dunn, 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd, 19-Rachel Buehler; 20-Abby Wambach, 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head coach: Tom Sermanni

CHN: 1-Zhang Yue (12-Wang Fei, 52); 4-Li Jiayue, 5-Wu Haiyan, 6-Zeng Ying, 11-Pu Wei (capt.), 16-Wang Chen, 19-Zhou Feifei, 21-Wang Lisi, 23-Ren Guixin (20-Wang Shuang 3rd,10-Ma Xiaoxu, 63), 25-Zhang Rui, 27-Li Ying
Substitutions Not Used: 3-Qin Qingfei, 14-Lu Yueyun, 15-Lei Jiahui, 18-Hang Peng
Head coach: Hao Wei


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