Los Angeles Soccer: Japan women's national team
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.
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.
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.