The U.S. women’s national team ended a disappointing 2014 Algarve Cup with a 3-0 victory over North Korea to claim a seventh-place finish in Portugal.
Abby Wambach scored twice, first 11 minutes into the match when she headed in a cross from right back Ali Krieger and again in the 59th minute when she back-heeled Carli Lloyd’s low cross into the net. The goals were Wambach’s 166th and 167th in her career.
Heather O’Reilly also scored in her 200th cap with the U.S., becoming the ninth player to appear that many times for the team. O’Reilly came on at halftime and roofed a cross from Carli Lloyd in the 88th minute.
With the victory, the U.S. avoided going winless in four consecutive games for the first time since 2001. Only twice have the Americans lost three straight games, in 1993 when they fell Norway and twice to Germany in a one-month span and in 1991 when they lost twice to Norway and again to China.
After opening the Algarve Cup with a 1-1 draw against reigning World Cup champions Japan, the United States lost 1-0 to Sweden to snap a 43-game unbeaten streak and then suffered a stunning 5-3 loss to Denmark on Monday. That was the first time since 2001 that the U.S. had lost two straight games and the most goals ever conceded by the Americans, against a Denmark team ranked No. 13 in the world.
Germany made a statement on Wednesday, defeating Japan 3-0 in the Algarve Cup final to firmly plant their stake as 2015 World Cup favorites.
After a scoreless first half, the European champions needed less than a minute to score in the second half and put the game beyond doubt within 17 minutes. Nadine Keßler opened the scoring right after halftime and Anja Mittag scored a crafty backheel goal four minutes later to put Germany in control.
Dzsenifer Marozsan scored a sublime goal from 20 yards out with her right foot to ice the game for Germany, making it 3-0. The goal was her fourth of the tournament.
Disappointment from the 2011 World Cup is well behind the Germans, who are ranked second in the world behind the United States. Germany bowed out to Japan in the quarterfinals on home soil in 2011 and missed the 2012 Olympics as a result, they won the EURO 2013 title and just dominated world No. 3 Japan. With 15 months until the 2015 World Cup, Germany looks like the team to beat, especially with the struggles the U.S. endured over the past week.