So much for a supposed hex. After three straight matches without a win, the United States Women’s National Team finally got one over the reigning world champions.
Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan (because who else, really?) each netted two goals in Monday’s 4-1 win. The USWNT depart Sweden in buoyant spirits after securing convincing victories against top sides Sweden and Japan.
Japan never quite got out of first gear, which may be a result of a ten-week lay-off. The team didn’t line up with its usual defensive corps either. And after four conceded goals (and it really could have been six or seven), it showed.
Morgan and Wambach formed an absolutely deadly strike partnership. They accounted for six of the seven goals scored at this tournament by the team.
Wambach’s brace puts her on 138 goals; just 20 shy of Mia Hamm’s all-time record. Morgan has now tallied 17 goals this year alone. She could realistically become just the sixth USWNT player to score 20 goals in a calendar year before the team wraps up Olympic group play this summer.
So is it mission accomplished? Mostly. Almost every player in the squad got time on the bench. Wambach, Morgan, and auxiliary attackers Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, and Tobin Heath looked to be in unstoppable form over these two games. Pia Sundhage toyed with her options in midfield – an experiment that yielded mixed results. Carli Lloyd – a player known to polarize members of the USWNT supporting brethren – was dropped from the starting line-up, but energized the attack each time she came off the bench.
The team’s occasional defensive frailty is worth fretting over, though. This tournament failed to uncover any innovative solutions to the problem. The back four will have one last chance to fully settle on June 30 when the team faces Canada at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Is the team truly peaking at the right time? That match will be the determining factor, but this tournament suggests the team is on the right track.