Julie Johnston

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USA vs. Japan friendly abandoned with USWNT leading 2-0

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CLEVELAND (AP) Julie Johnston and Alex Morgan scored goals, leading the U.S. women’s national team to a 2-0 win over rival Japan in a friendly halted in the 76th minute by severe weather on Sunday.

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Johnston scored in the 27th minute and Morgan one-timed a nice pass from Crystal Dunn in the 62nd minute to pace the Americans, who tied Japan 3-3 earlier this week. The matches have been the first since the U.S. won last year’s World Cup with a 5-2 victory over Japan in the final.

The match was delayed in the second half by rain and lightning, which sent fans in FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the NFL’s Browns, scrambling for cover. With more rough weather expected, officials decided to call the match following an hour delay.

[ MORE: Judge rules in favor of U.S. Soccer; USWNT has no right to strike ]

Johnston’s goal came after Japan failed to clear the ball following a free kick. Morgan scored after streaking down the middle of the field and finishing a pass from Dunn with her left foot for her 11th goal this year.

Press, Johnston get the goals, USWNT thumps Colombia in latest friendly

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CHESTER, Pa. (AP) Julie Johnston scored two goals, Tobin Heath had a pair of assists and the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated Colombia 3-0 on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

Christen Press also scored for the Americans, who wrapped up a two-game exhibition series with Colombia after a 7-0 win on Wednesday in Connecticut.

U.S. captain Carli Lloyd, the 2015 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, was held scoreless despite several chances in her homecoming, coming out to a thunderous ovation in the 73rd minute.

The Delran, N.J., native grew up 30 minutes from Talen Energy Stadium, the home stadium of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. It was her first game in the area since leading the United States to the 2015 World Cup, getting a hat trick in the final.

“Although I would have liked to score in front of my home crowd, it’s not really the end of the world,” said Lloyd, who had more than 100 family and friends in attendance. “We won the game and that’s the most important thing.”

The Americans are 11-0 in 2016, outscoring their opponents 42-1. They are preparing for the Rio Olympics, where they’re seeking their fourth straight gold medal.

[ MORE: Press scores a stunner in 7-0 victory over Colombia ]

Coach Jill Ellis has several tough choices for the tournament and experimented with Sunday’s lineup, giving playmaker Heath her first start at fullback and sitting out starting goalkeeper Hope Solo in favor of Alyssa Naeher, who’s competing with Ashlyn Harris for the backup role in Rio.

“Way back when, Tobin played at the under-20 level as a left back,” Ellis said.

“But Tobin has a good mind, good feet, versatility, athleticism and she’s playing with so much confidence. That’s huge, especially when you go into a tournament with six games and a small roster – to have that flexibility is great.”

Heath admitted that she “prefers to be attacking,” but certainly put in a strong shift at both right back and left back, especially with her set pieces.

In the 42nd minute, Johnston one-timed Heath’s free kick past Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez to put the United States up 2-0. Heath and Johnston connected again on another free kick to close the scoring in the 79th minute.

“At the end of the day, it’s all Tobin,” Johnston said. “Tobin played the set piece perfectly where I needed to be. I was lucky enough to be in the right spots.”

[ MORE: England women’s team supports USWNT in equal-pay battle ]

It was the first multiple-goal game for Johnston, whose seven career goals have all come off set pieces. Like Lloyd, she also played in front of several family members, including her fiance, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.

“It was awesome,” Johnston said. “To have Zach here, my family here, it’s always fun.”

Naeher improved to 4-0, earning her fourth career shutout. But she didn’t need to make any saves.

Perez, who plays for the University of Miami, made seven saves, including a big one on Lloyd in first-half stoppage time and a couple of more great ones right before the final whistle.

“I have a lot of respect for her,” Perez said of Lloyd. “Of course I watched her win the Golden Ball (at the World Cup). I think she’s an amazing person and player. To be able to play against her, it was awesome.”

Star Alex Morgan (hip) and Morgan Brian (hamstring) both missed their second straight game with injuries.

[ MORE: Abby Wambach apologizes for DUI arrest ]

Press opened the scoring in the 26th minute with a chip over Perez following a through ball from Lindsey Horan. It was the 33rd goal of her career, moving her into 16th place on the team’s all-time list.

Lloyd had a few chances to build on the Americans’ first-half lead, but pushed one close-range shot wide and had trouble controlling a cross right in front of the net.

Afterward, the star midfielder lamented that she “couldn’t buy a goal,” but denied pressing in front of her home crowd.

“Carli could be playing in front of five people and she will want to press for a goal,” Ellis said. “I think that’s her instinct. She’s a competitor and a goal-scorer. I think she could have had a couple today but credit their ‘keeper. She came up big and, at times, we weren’t as precise as we need to be.”

The Americans were playing their second game since five players, including Lloyd, filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Lloyd, Solo among four USWNT players on first FIFPro Women’s World XI

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FIFPro announced the first-ever Women’s World XI on Thursday, a world all-star team selected by players from across the globe. Four players from the United States team which won the 2015 Women’s World Cup title are on the list.

Carli Lloyd, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, made the list, along with U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Julie Johnston.

France was the next-most represented country with three players: defender Wendie Renard, midfielder Amandine Henry and forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

FIFPro, which is the world union for soccer players, created the concept of a Women’s World XI throughout 2015 as women’s players expressed their interest in seeking the same kind of recognition as men get. FIFA and FIFPro have an official World XI for the men which is honored at the annual Ballon d’Or Gala.

“This is a landmark for the women’s game,” FIFPro General-Secretary Theo van Seggelen said.

FIFPro says that “players of 33 different nationalities spread out over 20 countries participated in this year’s test vote. Players were asked to pick one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards, replicating the same format used in deciding the men’s award.”

“This is a great step forward in terms of equality, respect and recognition for women’s football,” Lloyd said.

“I’d like to thank FIFPro for making this possible. It’s an initiative that will be appreciated by female players all over the world.”

The full list is as follows:

Goalkeeper:

  • Hope Solo (USA, Seattle Reign FC)

Defenders (4):

  • Wendie Renard (France, Lyon)
  • Meghan Klingenberg (USA, Portland Thorns FC)
  • Kadeisha Buchanan (Canada, West Virginia Mountaineers)
  • Julie Johnston (USA, Chicago Red Stars)

Midfielders (3):

  • Carli Lloyd (USA, Houston Dash)
  • Amandine Henry (France, Lyon)
  • Aya Miyama (Japan, Okoyama Yunogo Belle)

Forwards (3):

  • *Celia Sasic (Germany, 1.FFC Frankfurt)
  • Eugenie Le Sommer (France, Lyon)
  • Anja Mittag (Germany, PSG)

*Retired

Voting parties, according to FIFPro:

Four national teams participated: Australia, Cameroon, Finland and Portugal. Australia and Cameroon appeared in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Finals in Canada and reached the final 16.

Participating players from clubs such as Bayern Munich, Chelsea (English champions), Olympique Lyon (French champions), Paris Saint-Germain (Champions League finalists), VfL Wolfsburg (runners-up Germany), FC Rosengard (Swedish champions), Verona, (Italian champions) Atlético Madrid (runners-up Spain), Houston Dash and Portland Thorns.

GLORY IN PHOTOS: Our favorite shots from the USWNT’s winning evening in Vancouver

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Whether it’s a teary-eyed Alex Morgan draped in the flag, Jill Ellis leaping into the arms of Abby Wambach, or Wambach’s post-game kiss with her wife, plenty of memorable photos are making their way around the Internet today.

[ MORE: With a legend as a super sub, the USWNT wrote a team-first tale ]

But did you know others were taken? Of course you did, with plenty more flag-waving winners, emotional players, and post-World Cup couple smooches leaping off the wire. Shall we look at a few?

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Alex Morgan (Getty Images)
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USA forward Sydney Leroux gets a kiss from husband Dom Dwyer. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
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VANCOUVER, BC – JULY 05: Julie Johnston. (Photo by Maddie Meyer – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
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Ellis and Wambach (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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VANCOUVER, BC – JULY 05: Alex Morgan and Servando Carrasco (Photo by Matthew Lewis – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
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USA midfielder Shannon Box walks on the field with daughter Zoe (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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(Stuart Franklin – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
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With legendary Wambach serving as super sub, the USWNT spun a team title tale

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There’s no better way to envelope the United States’ remarkable Women’s World Cup run than to acknowledge that the team’s most potent attacker of all-time needed her teammates to help her win the ultimate team prize.

Abby Wambach has scored more goals than any American, and more World Cup goals than all but two players in the history of women’s soccer. She’s the face of an era of U.S. women’s soccer, a symbol of the States’ swagger.

And now that era has a World Cup title, one that she helped kickstart on the field but found its form with her on the bench.

[ WORLD CUP: Lloyd fulfills her wildest dreams ]

Wambach’s goal against Nigeria in the final Group D match awoke a slumbering offense that hadn’t scored in two and a half hours of soccer going back to the 3-1 win over Australia, but the team needed to move away from the “lump it to Abby’s noggin” approach in order to become a championship unit.

So somehow Jill Ellis found the courage to sit a legend, and the world’s most famous player became the world’s most famous sub — Ssssh! Pia was right — and a World Cup champion.

The Nigeria goal ended up Wambach’s only goal of the tournament, after scoring three in 2003, six in 2007 and four in 2011. For the 2015 World Cup, it puts her on even footing with Kelley O’Hara, Alex Morgan, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath and Christen Press.

Only Megan Rapinoe (two) and Carli Lloyd (six) scored more than a single goal in earning the States’ historic third star, and even their superlative performances tell the story of how the U.S. in 2015 became a team worthy of its championship predecessors.

Rapinoe was the States’ dynamic force for the group stage, and Lloyd took the wheel for the knockout rounds (and did she ever last night?!?). Hope Solo was perhaps the most important player when Australia came charging out of the gates to start the tournament, and Julie Johnston may’ve won tournament MVP were it not for her penalty conceded against Germany (and Lloyd’s 16-minute hattie).

Finally, as in most tournament, the champion needed some good fortune. It earned a date with No. 1 Germany mere days after the opponent had gone 120 minutes in knocking out France (one of only two teams to beat the USWNT since 2014). It overcame its star missing a penalty and watched Germany’s hero miss one in return.

Wambach’s name was always going to carry its weight along Hamm, Foudy, etc. due to her ritual slaughter of the record books, but this World Cup title needed Lloyd, Johnston and so many others to get there.

And that just works for us, right down to a quiet play from Wambach that so typified the States’ run while being atypical to our expectations. The legendary No. 20, now a sub, held up the ball in the left corner as Germany tried to find an equalizer. A few players of possession later, O’Hara buried the goal that sunk the Germans.

No name on the score sheet, but one in the winner’s ledger.