Los Angeles Soccer: Alex Morgan
Morgan (Diamond Bar HS) went down with a twisted right knee after she was tripped by a Canadian defender near midfield. She was in anguish and needed on-field medical attention, then walked off under her own power and was replaced by Amy Rodriguez.
Morgan, who turns 23 Monday, is a rocketing presence and increasingly the primary face for the U.S. women, who will be seeking their fourth gold medal in five Olympics when the London Games begin July 25. She has 27 goals in 42 international appearances, with a team-best 17 this year.
U.S. Soccer reported that Morgan was pulled out for precautionary reasons, and she is expected to be fine. The U.S. departs on July 10 for Scotland, where it will play two of its first-round matches.
Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC) scored the winning goal, finishing from Abby Wambach's backheel off an opponent following Megan Rapinoe's cross in the 85th minute.
The U.S. went ahead on a Carmelina Moscato own goal in the 15th minute, but Melissa Tancredi equalized for Canada, which also is Olympic-bound, 12 minutes into the second half.
The U.S. played its first-choice lineup, likely the team that will take on France in the Olympic opener: Hope Solo in goal; Amy LePeilbet, captain Christie Rampone, Del Mar's Rachel Buehler and Kelley O'Hara along the backline; Rapinoe, Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx (South Torrance HS), Lauren Cheney (UCLA) and Tobin Heath in midfield; and Morgan and Hermosa Beach's Wambach up top. Canadian-born UCLA alum Sydney Leroux came off the bench for the Americans.
The Fullerton Rangers took a huge stride toward the National Premier Soccer League playoffs with Sunday's victory over FC Santa Clarita, a showdown for second place in the Western Division's Southern Conference.
Former Chivas USA/New York Red Bulls forward David Arvizu (Santa Ana/Foothill HS) scored two goals as the Rangers avenged a loss two months earlier in Santa Clarita with a 3-0 triumph at Santa Ana Stadium.
The Rangers (7-3-2) have a two-point advantage over the Storm (6-3-3) with two games to play. Both have matches remaining with the San Diego Flash (9-0-2), which has clinched the Southern Conference title.
The Rangers' NPSL team finished second to the Flash and went to the playoffs last year, when they were affiliated with the Santa Ana Winds.
Arvizu scored in the 17th and 60th minutes and Cuban forward Eder Roldan tallied in the 24th for Fullerton, which has won three in a row and scored at least three times in its past four games. Santa Clarita has won just twice in its past five games, over the division's two worst clubs (Phoenix and North Coast, with a combined 2-18-1 record), and could rue a 1-1 draw at home June 9 with San Diego Boca (4-5-3).
Santa Clarita is likely to vault back to second next weekend, when it faces fading Conejo Valley side FC Hasental (3-7-2), but getting a resullt against the Flash on July 7 is critical to the Storm' playoff hopes. Fullerton plays the Flash in San Diego this weekend, then closes July 8 at home against Boca.
Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:
There's no stopping Alex Morgan these days. Ditto Abby Wambach.
Both scored two more goals Monday to lead the U.S. women's national team to a 4-1 rout of Japan in an Olympic tuneup in Halmstad, Sweden.
Morgan, from Diamond Bar, netted her 16th and 17th goals off the year and Wambach, who has a home in Hermosa Beach, climbed within 20 goals of Mia Hamm's international career record with her 137th and 138th in a rematch of last year's Women's World Cup final.
It was the third meeting since last July's title game in Frankfurt, Germany, which Japan won on penalties following a 2-2 draw. Japan won, 1-0, in March at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, and the teams drew, 1-1, in Japan on April 1.
Morgan, who is increasingly becoming the face of women's soccer in America, has 27 goals in 41 international appearances.
Morgan scored in the third and 61st minutes and Wambach in the 10th and in second-half stoppage. Yuki Nagasato tallied, from an assist by former L.A. Sol star Aya Miyama, in the 28th for Japan, which faces Sweden on Thursday to conclude a three-national tournament.
The U.S. beat the Swedes, 3-1, with Morgan and Wambach scoring goals, on Saturday.
Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx and UCLA alum Lauren Cheney also started for the Yanks, and Lake Forest's Amy Rodriguez and UCLA product Sydney Leroux came off the bench. Palos Verdes Estates' Christen Press was on the game-day roster but did not play.
In the four Olympics to include women's soccer, the Americans have won three gold medals (Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and one silver (Sydney 2000). The U.S. opens its London Games schedule July 25 against France in Glasgow, Scotland.
The forward from Diamond Bar netted No. 15 in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Sweden to open a three-nation tuneup for the London Olympics in Halmstad, Sweden.
Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach plus Tobin Heath also tallied for the Americans, who meet world champion Japan on Monday in a rematch of last year's Women's World Cup final. Sweden and Japan play Wednesday.
Wambach's 136th international goal, an amazing strike from 35 yards, provided an eighth-minute lead, and Morgan's effort in the Swedish box to win a ball from Stina Segerström paid off with another goal in the 22nd. Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx picked up an assist on Morgan's goal.
The goal was rising star Morgan's 25th in 40 international appearances. Wambach, who has played 180 times for the U.S., is only 22 goals behind all-time leader Mia Hamm.
Lotta Schelin scored Sweden's goal in the 35th minute, and Heath tallied from a Wambach assist 11 minutes into the second half.
The U.S., which has won three gold medals (Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and one silver (Sydney 2000) in the four Olympics to include women's soccer, opens its London Games schedule July 25 against France in Glasgow, Scotland.
The W-League's Western Conference title appears to be headed the Pali Blues' way or to the Seattle Sounders. They're the chief contenders just four weeks into the campaign.
Pali completed sweeps of its Southern California rivals, both of them one-goal home wins, to improve to 4-0-0. The Sounders, also 4-0-0, won three games last week with U.S. national team stars Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe and Stephanie Cox on hand.
Morgan (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS) scored and assisted Lyndsey Patterson's goal in the 3-0 romp Monday night over Colorado Rapids' women's team. Leroux (UCLA) had an assist in a 2-1 win Thursday over the third-place Colorado Rush (3-1-0), a match that sold out the Starfire Sports Complex's 4,500-seat stadium in Tukwila, Wash.
Pali, which is affiliated with the L.A. Blues' men's team (both are coached by Charlie Naimo), got goals from Nikki Washington and Liz Bogus to beat the L.A. Strikers, 2-1, then pulled out a 1-0 triumph over Santa Clarita Blue Heat on Australian national-teamer Servet Uzunlar's goal three minutes into second-half stoppage.
The Blues and Sounders meet twice this season: June 20 in Tukwila and in the July 15 regular-season finale at Palisades High School.
Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:
Alex Morgan made the U.S. Olympic roster, which was never in doubt, so she celebrated with the usual aplomb.
The striker from Diamond Bar scored two more goals Sunday evening to lead the U.S. women's national team past China, 4-1, before a sellout crowd of 18,573 at the Philadelphia Union's stadium in Chester, Pa.
It was the first game in the Americans' final run-up to the London Games, which kick off July 25. Head coach Pia Sundhage unveiled her 18-woman roster for the tournament earlier Sunday, and there were no surprises.
Morgan (Diamond Bar HS), who is quickly evolving into the Americans' most visible star, at least on par with Hope Solo, has 24 goals in 39 international appearances, after netting her ninth and 10th in a dozen games this year. She had a breakout performance at last year's Women's World Cup in Germany.
Other local players on the roster are midfielder Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach/South Torrance HS), forward Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC), UCLA products Sydney Leroux and Lauren Cheney, and star forward Abby Wambach, who has a home in Hermosa Beach. Leroux is the only player on the roster who was not at the World Cup last year.
A tumultuous winter has left the American women's soccer landcape in flux: The pro league is dead and gone, a lot of the players have scattered overseas, and the maneuvering for position among clubs and rival leagues for whatever's next is well under way.
The impact will surely be felt in the USL W-League's Western Conference, which has picked up its share of big names -- with more possibly to come.
The W-League season kicked off this weekend, and two Western matches are featured -- one pitting SoCal clubs Pali Blues and L.A. Strikers on Sunday evening at Occidental College. Pali, a two-time league champion, is one of the clubs benefiting from the talent dispersal and thus one of the expected contenders to win the national amateur/semipro league's title.
The Blues have brought in one national-teamer -- defender Whitney Engen, from Rolling Hills Estates -- among a handful of WPS veterans, and more could be coming, with speculation centered on local stars Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Amy Rodriguez.
The Seattle Sounders made the biggest splash, luring the U.S. team's biggest name (goalkeeper Hope Solo) and hottest property (Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan, whose boyfriend, Servando Carrasco, plays for the Sounders' MLS side), the No. 1 pick in the WPS draft (UCLA's Sydney Leroux), along with two more national-teamers (midfielder Megan Rapinoe and former L.A. Sol defender Stephanie Cox), among other pros.
“It's interesting. Kind of a feeding frenzy,” said L.A. Strikers head coach Demian Brown, who did not pursue WPS and U.S. national team stars. “I know a lot of W-League teams made real strong pushes for international and national team players, and almost by circumstance we didn't. I would have loved to have a Whitney Engen or a Hope Solo, but some of those women will only play in the league for a bit because of their commitment to the country.”
Most WPS vets will be available all season. The national-teamers, as Brown says, not so much. The London Olympics begin in mid-July, and preparations will be the top priority for the big stars the rest of the spring and into summer.
“I'm not worried about the full national team players [Seattle] signed,” said Charlie Naimo, who guided the Pali Blues to the 2008 and 2009 W-League titles, served as GM of the WPS's L.A. Sol in 2009 and returns to the women's game after taking last season off to concentrate on the L.A. Blues pro men's team, which he continues to run. “They're not going to be around for the playoffs. When I look at the league schedule versus the national team schedule, they're physically available for only a few league games. If they do play against us, we'll be excited. It's a great challenge for our team.”
The Vancouver Whitecaps, who reached the W-League title game two years ago and the semifinals last year, have a handful Canadian national-teamers but lost the core of its team. The Colorado Rapids, formerly the Force and now the third team in the league with an MLS affiliation, brought in WPS standout Brittany Bock, another former Sol player.
Everybody, it appears, will be improved, at least in the eight-team West, which features three Pacific Northwest teams (the third is in Victoria), two from Colorado and three teams from So Cal (the third is Santa Clarita Blue Heat). It might be the best division in the women's game, on par with W-League rival rival Women's Premier Soccer League's Elite Division, which has three WPS survivors.
A look at the three local teams:
Brazil couldn't stop Alex Morgan, but a linesman could.
The scoring sensation from Diamond Bar scored again Tuesday, heading home a free kick from former L.A. Sol defender Stephanie Cox, but it was waved off because one of her U.S. women's national teammates was in an offside position.
No matter. The Americans, with goals from Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx and Lake Forest's Amy Rodriguez, romped to a 3-0 rout of a Brazil side missing Marta to finish their participation in Japan's Kirin Challenge Cup, an Olympic prep for both sides.
The match, in suburban Tokyo, kicked off four hours ahead of schedule because of impending bad weather.
Boxx (South Torrance HS) gave the U.S. a two-goal lead from former UCLA All-American Lauren Cheney's free kick in the 23rd minute, and Rodriguez (Santa Margarita Catholic HS/USC), who came on for Morgan with 20 minutes to go, netted the third in the 83rd minute. Abby Wambach (Hermosa Beach) got a touch to Cheney's free kick before A-Rod's finish.
Boxx's goal, her 23rd in international play, was her first in 13 months. Rodriguez's goal was her 24th.
Carli Lloyd's goal in the 18th, also following a free kick, started the rout.
Morgan (Diamond Bar HS) has a dozen goals this year and had scored in six of the previous eight U.S. matches.
Alex Morgan can't be stopped. The explosive forward from Diamond Bar netted her 12th goal of the year for the U.S. women's national team Sunday to give the Americans a 1-1 draw with Japan in the opener of the Kirin Challenge Cup in Sendai, Japan.
Morgan (Diamond Bar HS), who has become the Americans' most-watched star, scored a 73rd-minute equalizer, sending in a loose ball after Carli Lloyd lost possession. It was initially waved off as offside, but Chinese referee Li Juan overruled after consulting with the Japanese linesman.
Yukari Kinga scored in the 32nd for Japan. Both teams are preparing for this summer's London Olympics.
It was the second Women's World Cup title rematch within a month. Japan won, 1-0, in an Algarve Cup group game in Portugal in early March.
Morgan, 22, has scored in six of the past eight games for the U.S. and has 22 goals in 37 international appearances.
Other local players for the U.S. were midfielders Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach/South Torrance HS) and Lauren Cheney (UCLA) and forward Abby Wambach (Hermosa Beach). Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC) and Sydney Leroux (UCLA) came off the bench.
The U.S. on Tuesday meets Brazil in Chiba, a Tokyo suburb.
Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan netted her first international hat trick Wednesday, leading the U.S. women's national team to a disappointing third-place finish at the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal.
The Americans are used to carting off the trophy -- they'd won seven of the past nine years -- but had to settle for a 4-0 romp over Sweden in the consolation game after falling to Women's World Cup champion Japan in their group finale Monday.
Morgan, who scored five times in the tournament, tallied in the fourth, 33rd and 72nd minutes to lead the Americans, netting her 19th, 20th and 21st goals in just 36 international appearances. Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach also tallied, her 134th international goal.
Germany won the title, pulling out a 4-3 victory in stoppage time against Japan in the final.
No Algarve Cup title for the U.S. women's national team this year.
The Americans' Women's World Cup title-game rematch with Japan didn't go their way, a 1-0 loss in Monday's Group B final ending their run of 10 successive finals at the annual event in Portugal.
Megumi Takase headed home a corner kick from former L.A. Sol star Aya Miyama in the 84th minute to send the Japanese, who prevailed on penalties in last year's WWC final in Germany, to the Algarve championship match Wednesday against the Germans. A draw would have sent the U.S. to the final.
The U.S., shut out for the first time in 58 matches -- since November 2008 -- will meet Sweden in the third-place game. The Swedes lost the Group A finale to Germany, 4-0.
“I think in the first half, we looked very nervous and the decision-making was off,” U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage told U.S. Soccer's website. “Too many times we gave away the ball in situations when we were not even under pressure or in tight spaces. We couldn’t keep the ball enough to be dangerous.
“When you give away the ball against Japan, they keep it. It’s so much defending. Mentally and physically, that’s tough. … Overall you could tell there is a lot of things to work on and, especially looking at Japan, their technique and how they keep the ball. They should be role models for the world, the way they play.”
The U.S., preparing for this summer's London Olympics, had won eight Algarve titles since 2000, including seven of the last nine. Germany in 2006 and Sweden in 2009 overcame the Americans on penalties in the final.
“I think, more than anything, it opens our eyes to areas we can improve in,” U.S. midfielder Heather O’Reilly told media afterward. “Better now that we have this experience than later during the Olympics. I think we have a lot to learn from and a lot grow from, but we’re trying to pull the positives out of it.”
Sundhage's starting lineup included Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx, Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan, Lake Forest's Amy Rodriguez and Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach, plus former UCLA All-American Lauren Cheney. Sydney Leroux, who wrapped her UCLA career last fall, came on for Wambach in the 72nd minute.
Rarely, if ever, has there been a day quite so golden for U.S. Soccer -- involving multiple teams -- as was Wednesday.
- The full men's national team beat Italy for the first time -- and in Italy, in Genoa -- as Clint Dempsey finished from Jozy Altidore's finish up top. Also splendid: midfielder Michael Bradley and German-born left back Fabian Johnson.
- The U.S. women's national team won its Algarve Cup opener in Portugal, dominating Denmark, 5-0, as Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan scored two more goals -- her 17th and 18th in 34 international games -- and assisted another by Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach. UCLA products Sydney Leroux (goal) and Lauren Cheney (assist) also contributed in the scoring.
- The U.S. under-23 national team, preparing for the Olympic qualifiers in March, outclassed Mexico's U-23s, 2-0, in Frisco, Texas, on goals two minutes apart by Juan Agudelo and Freddy Adu.
One more international event to report, from Tuesday night. UCLA looked good in holding Mexico's under-20 national team to a scoreless draw at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.
Rising women's star Alex Morgan has a new club, and it means she'll be spending more time with her boyfriend.
Morgan, 22, signed Monday with the Seattle Sounders' W-League team, joining fellow U.S. national-teamers Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux for the upcoming season in the United Soccer Leagues' women's competition.
The striker from Diamond Bar, who has 16 goals in 32 international appearances and made huge splashes at last year's Women's World Cup and last month's CONCACAF qualifiers for the London Olympics, was a rookie last year for the Western New York Flash in Women's Professional Soccer. With WPS going on hiatus, her contract with the Flash doesn't carry over into this season, in which the club will play in a new “elite” division of the Women's Premier Soccer League, the W-League's rival.
“I am excited to play in a city that is so passionate about soccer,” Morgan said in a release from the Sounders Women. “The Sounders [has] one of if not the best fan support in MLS. I can only imagine how Seattle fans would respond to having a full professional women’s team in the future.”
Morgan knows the Sounders well. Her boyfriend, Servando Carrasco -- they've been together since her freshman year at Cal -- is a second-year midfielder for the Major League Soccer club.
Morgan is in Portugal with the national team for the annual Algarve Cup, which begins Wednesday, with the U.S. taking on Denmark.
The forward from Diamond Bar tallied in the 88th minute and again in stoppage as the U.S. women's national team, preparing for the London Olympics, rallied to beat New Zealand, 2-1, Saturday in near-freezing temperatures in Frisco, Texas.
Morgan, 22, has 16 goals in 32 international games and six in five matches this year.
Morgan headed home a Megan Rapinoe cross to pull the U.S. even -- Kiwis goalkeeper Jenny Bindon appeared to knocked it away, but she was in the net at the time -- and then nodded in the winner after Abby Wambach got her head to a Rachel Buehler cross.
New Zealand scored in the 49th minute, with Hannah Wilkinson taking advantage of a poor pass by outside back Kelley O'Hara, a converted forward. Wambach missed a penalty kick in the ninth minute, firing off the post.
The U.S. next plays in the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal, starting Feb. 29.
Alex Morgan had way too much speed for Canada's defenders, and that's the starting point of the U.S. women's national team's comprehensive victory in Sunday's title game at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
The rising star from Diamond Bar scored two goals and assisted both of Abby Wambach's in a 4-0 victory that might have been far worse if not for veteran Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
It completed a perfect run for the Americans in Vancouver, British Columbia, with five shutout victories, none closer than three goals, a 38-0 scoreline and a series of impressive performances that showcased their skill, movement, interchange and versatility in a 4-2-3-1 alignment that has added dynamics to the U.S. game while better utilizing the strengths of midfielders Carli Lloyd and, now the most influential figure on the field, former UCLA All-American Lauren Cheney.
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage switched things up against Canada, going back to a 4-4-2 that turned on Morgan's blinding speed. They call the 22-year-old forward “Baby Horse” within the squad -- “I think it's 'cause I gallop like a horse, and I was the baby of the team,” she says -- and Canada had no hope corraling her.
She provided a fourth-minute lead, running onto a Lloyd ball that Wambach headed into space, racing past one defender and holding off another, then sprinted past the defense on the right flank to chip for a Wambach header in the 24th.
It was 3-0 four minutes later, when Lloyd hit the left post and Morgan squared the rebound for Wambach. Morgan added another 11 minutes into the second half, badly beating an offside trap, fending off McLeod and two defenders in a looping run in the box and firing into the empty net.
Morgan scored four goals with six assists during the tournament; Lloyd, Wambach (Hermosa Beach) and Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC) scored six apiece to lead the U.S.