After letting Atlanta thaw from another major winter storm, the United States women’s team defeated Russia 8-0, Thursday night in front of 15,133 fans at the Georgia Dome. Scorers for the U.S. included Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Lauren Holiday, Heather O’Reilly, and Christen Press, with a goal each and were assisted with a pair of Russian own goals.
“The first half was more difficult in this game,” U.S. women’s national team head coach Tom Sermanni said if the match. “Two days stuck up in the hotel and we looked a little bit rusty. Russia had done their homework from the last game. The difference in the game was the two early goals in the second half and that opened up the game.”
Even though it was a delayed a day after Atlanta received major snow, fans still came out in full force and the game received the largest crowd for a friendly match in the state of Georgia. The United States dominated the score sheet, collecting 24 (17 on goal) shots, eight corners, and did not allow the Russians to get one of their four shots on net.
“Any team you want players to score goals, and if you look at last year, we had multiple players scoring multiple goals. It’s great when you have a team that scores goals, that’s how you win games,” the manager added.
The U.S. defeated the Russians the Saturday previous, as they demolished them 7-0 in Florida. Thursday night’s win moved the unbeaten streak to 42 games, and now are just nine away from tying their record set from December 2004 through September 2007.
“It’s not just the midfield, but we also have defenders that are able to get forward and get goals,” Sermanni said of the Americans being able to get a variety of their players on the scoring sheet.
The Americans would strike first, albeit from a Russian defender, but led 1-0 in the 12th minute. Whitney Engen took a shot from the left side that rattled off the near post. The fortuitous bounce knocked of the unsuspected defender’s shin and crossed the line for the own goal; that being the only goal of the half.
Whatever Sermanni said at the halftime break worked, as the U.S. pushed across three goals in a matter of ten minutes after the half.
“We talked about a couple of things at halftime,” Sermanni said. “We looked to stretch the Russians a little but more and we wanted to get behind them more. We started to do that and those two early goals, that’s what made the difference.”
Right after the halftime whistle, the Americans received another goal from Russia. Bad defending from an American cross saw the ball in the back of their own net again and USA led 2-0 at the 50th minute.
USA finally scored their first goal of the match as Amy Rodriguez put in a gorgeous scissor kick in the box as Heather O’Reilly provided the cross and led 3-0 just two minutes after the second own goal.
“I was really excited for tonight’s game,” Rodriguez exclaimed. “It was my first start back as a mom, my first game in about a year. We were looking for another win against Russia, I was really happy with the result.”
Goal number four was Abby Wambach’s 165th career and her assist came from Rapinoe in the 54th minute.
The lead swelled to five as the Americans played a well-organized play as Rodriguez played a short ball back to Morgan Brian. Brian took a long left-footed shot from outside of the box, with Rapinoe deflecting it with her head into the back of the Russian’s net. The Americans led 5-0 in the 65th minute and were cruising.
“We’re a 90 minute team, and we’ve shown that time and time again,” Sydney Leroux said of the match. “They got us for the first 45, but we wanted to compete in stride.”
Lauren Holiday added a penalty in the 80th minute as she took her own pk after she was brought down in the box. USA led 6-0. O’Reilly scored her first in the 83, as she had a quick tap in that came off the head of Christen Press, which came from a U.S. cross, as the Americans matched their seven goal tally from the weekend.
Not to be out done, Press added her first; as she dribbled through the box and put the right footed shot perfectly into the corner, giving the Americans an 8-0 lead with five minutes to go.
The United States will now head to Portugal for the Algarve Cup, where they will play Japan, Sweden, and Denmark in opening round play.