Brad Smith/U.S. Soccer IN THE IMAGE: Alex Morgan netted twice for the U.S. Women en route to their 5-0 win against Denmark.
U.S. Soccer News: Alex Morgan Scores Twice, Wambach Scores 132nd Career Goal, Lloyd and Leroux Also Score as America Wins Big Against Denmark Today.
America was always leading - U.S. National Women's Team Defeats Denmark 5-0 to Open Algarve Cup
Japan Defeats Norway 2-1 in other Group B Match - U.S. WNT Will Have One Day of Rest Before Facing Norway on March 2 in Lagos at 10 a.m. ET
The U.S. Women's National Team scored twice in the first half and three times in the last 15 minutes to defeat Denmark 5-0 in its Group B opener at the 2012 Algarve Cup.
U.S. forward Alex Morgan scored twice with one assist while Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd and Sydney Leroux added single goals as the USA took a commanding lead in its group after the first round of matches. Japan defeated Norway 2-1 in the other Group B contest.
The USA will meet Norway next on March 2 at 10 a.m. ET in Lagos.
The USA played in a 4-4-2 formation with Morgan and Wambach starting up top, and the duo once again proved to be a potent partnership.
The USA's first goal came in the 21st minute as Wambach spun a long ball over the top to Morgan, whose run took her defender deep into Denmark territory. Morgan flicked the ball with her head to Heather O'Reilly on the right side and the U.S. midfielder collected, cut inside and then played it back to Morgan behind the defense and into the right side of the penalty area.
Under pressure, Morgan struck a hard shot from 16 yards out that caromed off the left post, rolled behind Denmark goalkeeper Heidi Johansen, and then settled into the net just inside the post.
The USA's first quality series of ball possession came in the 15th minute and led to right back Amy LePeilbet sending in a cross from the flank. Morgan kept the ball alive with a leaping header at the far post. The ball fell to Lloyd inside the six-yard box, but she was almost too close to Johansen, who snuffed her hard shot at point blank range at the left post.
The match had a bit of a rambunctious start as the Danes put good pressure on the U.S. midfield and backs, but the Americans settled down to control most of the first half hour. Denmark flipped the field on the U.S. in the latter part of this half and looked dangerous at times with some nice passing around the top of the penalty area, but it was the Americans who scored the next goal.
It came just a minute before halftime and was once again a Morgan-Wambach production. LePeilbet struck a long ball from near the top of her own penalty box to Wambach at midfield. The big U.S. striker flicked it on with her head to Morgan, who turned and raced down the right side with a defender in tow. She sprinted almost all the way to the end line, drawing the 'keeper to the near post, and for a moment it looked as if she wouldn't have space to cross. Wambach lost her defender with a fantastic hesitation run, burst to the top of the six-yard box and met Morgan's short pass with a powerful sliding shot into the middle of the net. It was Wambach's 132nd career goal.
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made three changes at halftime, replacing Wambach with Tobin Heath, sending on Amy Rodriguez for O'Reilly and inserting Stephanie Cox for Kelley O'Hara at left back. All would add to the USA's attack in the final 45 minutes as Heath played flank midfield, moving Cheney up top with Morgan.
Denmark had several dangerous counter-attacks in the second half, but almost all were cut off by U.S. defenders. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo earned the shutout by handling her housekeeping chores inside the box with aplomb. She cleaned up a few bouncing balls, caught several crosses, punched away one dangerous corner kick and was quick off her line to smother several through balls at the feet of Danish attackers.
Denmark's best second-half chance came when Nadia Nadim flew through the middle to get her head on a corner kick, but it bounced right into Solo's steady hands.
The USA put the game away with three nice goals at the end of the match. The first came in the 76th minute when Morgan slipped a ball through to the streaking Lauren Cheney into the left side of the box. She beat Johansen to the ball, smoothly rounding the Denmark 'keeper with a deft touch and then slammed her shot off the left post.
Amazingly, the ball came right back to her in the left side of the penalty area and she showed remarkable composure to collect and then roll a pass into the middle for the crashing Lloyd. She took her chance first-time, pushing a shot into the right corner with her right foot a few yards left of the penalty spot.
Morgan added her second goal in the 84th minute after substitute Lori Lindsey lofted a ball from the right side toward the top of the box. Morgan leaped to win the ball and it fell into a pack of players just inside the penalty area. Heath battled several defenders to dig the ball out and Morgan came running through to smack her shot through traffic and into the net. It was Morgan's 18th career international goal and her team-leading eighth this year.
The USA continued to push in the final minutes and it was no surprise that a fifth goal came. Morgan ran down a pass on the left flank, just saving it from going out of bounds. She then passed back to Cox in the left side of the box and the U.S. defender struck a hard shot on the ground through a pack of players and was likely going to roll past the far post until Leroux - who did well to stay onside - slid to knock the ball into the open net from the sharpest of angles. Leroux, the USA's youngest player at 21, scored her sixth career goal in just six games after getting five in one game at Olympic Qualifying in Vancouver, Canada.
What did the Players and Coach have to say on the big win against Denmark?
U.S. head coach PIA SUNDHAGE
On the match…
“It wasn’t easy, I really want to emphasize that. I think Denmark is a good team and the way they played with a sort of 4-3-3 made it really hard for us at times, so I am happy to score five goals. The fact that we scored more goals in the second half with the changes that we created makes coaches happy.”
On the second half changes…
“We changed the outside mids, and even though Abby (Wambach) didn’t play the whole game, still we scored goals. That says something about how we have many good, versatile players and we have and the different combinations we can put out there. Having Alex (Morgan) playing well, she brings out the best performance in the players around her.”
On Morgan embracing her new starting role…
“She’s been playing well for a while now, but now is the first time she is in the starting lineup for more than one game and not only that but she plays 90 minutes. During the World Cup she helped the team tremendously coming off the bench. She will help this team being on the field for 90 minutes for many games I think. For young players, there will be ups and downs, but her speed and her technique is better than a year ago and she’s a goal scorer that’s for sure.”
On who will be the starting right back to replace the injured Ali Krieger…
“Unfortunately Ali Krieger is not here, but Amy LePeilbet, who usually plays on the left, played on the right and I think she did well today. Most likely, we will continue to look at different options in the back, but as long as Christie Rampone and Rachel Buehler play solid (in the middle) we can have different options out wide.”
On the match…
“I really like the fact that although late in the first half we struggled, and I think Denmark did a good job and keeping possession in front of our back line, that instead of talking too much about defending, we talked about the attack. In the second half, we had Amy Rodriguez on one side and Tobin heath on the other and still played 4-4-2, but were able to swing the ball from one side to another and Cheney and Alex did a good job up top. I am happy about the changes from first half to the second.”
On the speed the USA can put on the field…
“Late in the game Syd Leroux is a handful. You have Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez and Syd Leroux. It’s tough to play against those three. We pushed it and we really wanted to score goals, which we did.”
U.S. forward ALEX MORGAN
On the match…
“In the first half we struggled a little bit. We needed to get a little wider, it was a little too cluttered in the midfield. So in the second half I think we figured that out and had our outside midfielders stay wide and we got some good chances and the important thing is that we finished the chances we had.”
On starting vs. coming off the bench…
“It’s a huge difference. I am able to feel a lot more comfortable on the ball, posting up as a forward, being a little more versatile rather than running in behind every time. In the World Cup, getting in 20 minutes or less, my job was to get in behind and break down the defense that way, but now I am able to play both in front and behind the back line.”
On her first goal…
“The ball was on my right foot, not my strongest foot, but I wanted to get a good rip on it so I finally took a shot. I saw the ‘keeper leaning to the near post so and I shot far post. It ended up hitting the far post and maybe the near post as well? And fortunately went in.”
On her second goal…
“Tobin did a great job of keeping her ground and fighting off two players. The ball popped out perfectly for me and the defender was actually blocking the ‘keeper’s view so I just tried to hit on the ground hard and low and luckily it went through the defenders and the ‘keeper was unable to see where the ball was going.”
U.S. midfielder CARLI LLOYD
On the match…
“I thought the end result was great. We scored some great goals and we moved the ball around well towards the end of the game. We played a game a couple weeks ago and now we are back at it, so it’s just about finding that rhythm.”
On the USA scoring five goals…
“Pretty impressive. We went through a rough spell a few years ago as far as getting the ball into the back of the net and now we’ve got players coming off the bench and new players in the lineup who score goals and that’s what’s going to win games.”
On her goal…
“Alex sent a great ball into Cheney, a little bent ball in behind the back line. She took a great shot and it bounced back to her directly. I saw the gap opening up with that slot ball back into the middle. I made sure I ran in the box and made sure I kept it low. I saw the ‘keeper lean left so I went right.”
U.S. forward ABBY WAMBACH
On watching the second half from the bench…
“It’s great to get to sit on the bench and watch your teammates evolve and grow up and get the experience. It’s amazing. Alex Morgan is playing so well right now, she’s lifting the players around her and that a sign of greatness.”
On how the game progressed…
“I think it got better. The team calmed down a bit. Once the second half started, we had two goals under our belts and I think people kind of relaxed, got their legs about them. I thought Tobin (Heath) and Amy Rodrigez came off the bench and played fantastic in the second half.”
On her teammates…
“Tobin was one of the best players on the field in the second half. She was a magic player. I could say so many things about so many players; Rachel Buehler winning nearly every head ball for our defense, Christie Rampone organizing, Amy LePeilbet tracking down on defense and showing the mentality with the kind of back line we want to play.”
On her partnership with Alex Morgan on the forward line…
“Alex and I are developing a great connection. The thing about Alex is that she’s so strong with the ball. She gets faster with the ball because she loves scoring goals and putting herself and her teammates in position to score goals.
On her goal…
“I told Alex to go at (the defender) and she did and cut the ball back perfectly. As a forward you always look for those passing channels and lanes. I set up my defender up, and I slowed down, and Alex put the ball in the position she needed to so we could score.”
Additional Match Notes:
The match was the second in U.S. Women's National Team history on "Leap Day" after a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Feb. 29 back in 2004.
- Wambach scored one goal that day against Mexico, and with one today, is tied with Morgan as the USA's all-time "Leap Day" scorers with two apiece.
- Wambach's goal was her 16th in the Algarve Cup, most all-time for any U.S. player.
- The USA defeated Denmark in the 2009 Algarve Cup opener 2-0 in the most recent meeting between these two teams before today.
- This was the fourth time the U.S. has scored five goals in an Algarve Cup match, and second most in the tournament. The USA scored seven against Portugal in 2000.
- Both Group A matches ended 1-0 with Germany defeating Iceland and Sweden defeating China.
- Both Group C matches also ended 1-0 with Hungary defeating Ireland and Wales downing host Portugal.
U.S. Women's National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Denmark
Date: Feb. 29, 2012
Competition: 2012 Algarve Cup - Group B
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Lagos, Portugal
Kickoff: 5 p.m. Local / Noon ET
Weather: 67 degrees, clear and breezy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 3 5
DEN 0 0 0
USA - Alex Morgan (Heather O'Reilly) 21st minute
USA - Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan) 44
USA - Carli Lloyd (Lauren Cheney) 76
USA - Alex Morgan (Tobin Heath) 84
USA - Sydney Leroux (Stephanie Cox) 90+3
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet, 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 5-Kelley O'Hara (14-Stephanie Cox, 46); 9-Heather O'Reilly (8-Amy Rodriguez, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx (16-Lori Lindsey, 72), 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney (11-Sydney Leroux, 78); 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach (17-Tobin Heath, 46)
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 22-Whitney Engen
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
DEN: 1-Heidi Johansen; 2-Line Hansen (18-Marie Bjerg, 46), 4-Line Jensen, 8-Therese Nielsen, 15-Malene Olsen; 3-Katrine Pedersen (capt.), 6-Mariann Knudsen (20-Anna Thorsen, 46), 11-Katrine Veje (13-Johanna Rasmussen, 65), 12-Nanna Christiansen (14-Kristine Pedersen, 65); 10-Pemille Harder (7-Sanne Nielsen, 78), 17-Nadia Nadim (9-Lise Munk, 68)
Subs not used: 5-Janni Jensen, 16-Stina Petersen, 19-Sofie Pedersen
Head coach: Kenneth Heiner-Moller
Statistical Summary: USA / DEN
Shots: 16 / 5
Shots on Goal: 13 / 4
Saves: 4 / 7
Corner Kicks: 12 / 5
Fouls: 7 / 8
Offside: 5 / 3
Referee: Liang Qin (CHN)
Assistant Referee: Yongmei Cui (CHN)
Assistant Referee: Yan Fan (CHN)
4th Official: Katalin Kulcsar (HUN)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan