Wednesday, March 13, 2013
U.S. beats Germany in Algarve Cup
The United States gave Tom Sermanni a title in his first tournament as coach of the American women's team.
Alex Morgan scored twice in the first half, and the U.S. defeated Germany 2-0 Wednesday night in the final of the Algarve Cup at Faro, Portugal. The Americans won the prestigious tournament for the ninth time in 18 appearances.
"It's great to continue the winning tradition that the U.S. team has," said Sermanni, who took over this year after Pia Sundhage left to coach her native Sweden. "At least I haven't been a jinx in the short term."
The Americans have won three straight Olympic gold medals, including two under Sundhage, but have not won the Women's World Cup since 1999.
"It was such a good foundation for us. Now we just need to work off that," defender Ali Krieger said. "Tom has done such a great job with us, and he has a lot of knowledge of the game and we need to let it all soak in."
Backup goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart protected the lead with some strong saves in the second half. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe was selected tournament MVP despite missing the final after straining a muscle in pregame warmups.
"This is obviously very unexpected. I thought I was getting punked when our liaison told me," she said.
Morgan started the scoring in the 13th minute. Sydney Leroux sent a cross that Germany central defender Josephine Henning tried to clear with a header. But the ball fell to Morgan just inside the area and she scored with her left foot.
Morgan connected again 12 minutes later. A mix-up between goalkeeper Almuth Schult and her defense let Morgan steal the ball and she rolled a shot into the empty net from the edge of the box.
"It's been a different lineup every single game, so I think that it's good for him to evaluate players and good for us to get games," Morgan said, referring to Sermanni. "Other than a World Cup or Olympics, we never really get this many games in this short a time."
Forward Abby Wambach came off the bench for the first time since March 9, 2011, against Iceland at the Algarve Cup. She entered in the 75th minute for Christen Press, but did not score. She remained at 154 career goals, four shy of tying Mia Hamm's international record.
NOTES: Three-time Olympic gold medal winner Heather Mitts announced her retirement. The 34-year-old defender made her international debut in 1999, played her last match in December and had two goals in 137 appearances. She had been allocated to the Boston Breakers for the new National Women's Soccer League. ... The United States has won Algarve Cups in 2000, '03, '04, '05, '07, '08, '10, '11 and '13. ... The Americans have not lost in 29 games, including victory at last year's London Olympics. Their last defeat was in this event a year ago to World Cup champion Japan. ... Tobin Heath started in Rapinoe's place and assisted on the second U.S. goal.