Posted on September 1, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Striker Abby Wambach enjoyed a happy homecoming, leading the United States to an 8-0 victory over Costa Rica in the opening game of the Fan Tribute Tour on Saturday.
Wambach scored two goals to give her 145 international goals, second only to Mia Hamm, who retired with 158 in 2004.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe added two goals and an assist as the U.S. extended its winning streak to 12 and improved to 9-0-0 against Costa Rica. Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Sydney Leroux and Heather O’Reilly also scored before a sellout crowd of 13,208 at Sahlen Stadium, the first game since the U.S. won the gold medal in London last month.
Prior to the match, the entry path to the stadium was named in Wambach’s honor.
“I couldn’t be more proud than to have Rochester be my hometown and [host] the first game of our victory tour and have it be the way it was,” Wambach said. “People were interested the entire game – no matter what the score line said. I know they were pushing for me to get a third goal, but this is a victory tour so, we’ve got to get players that haven’t had much playing time on the field because they deserve it. Rochester is the best place. It’s the best place to grow up and they get soccer.”
The tour continues in Carson, Calif. on Sept. 16 and in Commerce City, Colo. on Sept. 19.
“I hope that this sets a precedent moving forward in the rest of the tour and gets these other cities rallied around women’s soccer,” Wambach said. “We want it to be every city in the United States.”
The Americans scored five goals in the first half, and it could have been more as Costa Rica goalkeeper Erica Miranda made 11 saves in the opening 45 minutes.
“We’ve played Costa Rica quite a few times,” Morgan said. “They continue to improve their game and I know that they probably haven’t come together as a team recently. We put on a good show for the fans and we hope to see Costa Rica again in the next year or so.”
Rapinoe scored on a free kick in the 13th minute as her shot grazed the defensive wall and went in just underneath the crossbar.
Wambach, who had multiple scoring chances throughout the first 20-plus minutes, found the back of the net in the 24th minute when she placed her header into the goal off of Rachel Buehler’s cross from the left side.
Wambach scored struck for her second goal in the 31st minute off of a Rapinoe corner kick from the left side as she rose above the defense. Defender Daniela Cruz got her left foot on Wambach’s shot, but the deflection hit the upper netting and had already crossed the goal line.
Morgan got into the scoring act in the 38th minute, eluding Cruz and placing her left-footed shot past Miranda.
Rapinoe pushed the lead to 5-0 with a strike from outside the box on the left side as Miranda partially deflected the shot and the ball trickled across the goal line.
“Something that we’ve been working on for a long time has been that offensive player and possession,” midfielder Shannon Boxx said. “Megan Rapinoe is the epitome of that, she’s got so much flare and is always in the right place at the right time. When she’s on, it just looks like she’s having fun and it looks easy. I think when she’s confident and goes forward with the ball it makes us all confident.”
Costa Rica’s best scoring chance came in the 67th minute as Cristin Granados took a shot at the near left side. USA backup goalkeeper Jill Loyden, who entered the match for Hope Solo 13 minutes earlier, made the save and kept the clean sheet intact.
Leroux replaced Wambach in the 72nd minute, and the Rochester fans gave Wambach a warm applause as she exited the field.
Wambach hugged Pia Sundhage, who announced she was stepping down as U.S. coach hours before the game. After the match, it was announced that Sundhage was named Swedish national coach.
Asked about the hug, Sundhage replied, “It meant everything. I’ve seen her and coached her differently. In 2008, she broke her leg, in 2011 she came up with big goals against Brazil and this year I pretty much left her alone. She carries the team in a good way because she’s a good teammate and she does anything for the team. She plays a big part of the team, there’s no doubt about that.”
Leroux scored her ninth goal of the year in the 77th minute off of a Morgan assist for a 6-0 lead. Leroux matched a team record for goals scored off the bench, equaling Debbie Keller’s nine goals off the bench in 1998.
Lloyd tallied a free kick goal in the 83rd minute for the team’s seventh tally of the match – the third-highest total in a match this year. The USA opened 2012 with a 14-0 win against the Dominican Republic and a 13-0 victory against Guatemala in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in late January.
Capping off the scoring, O’Reilly scored off of a Leroux assist in the 88th minute as Leroux took a shot against Miranda and got the ball back after the save deflected right back to her to set up O’Reilly.
Photo: Abby Wambach (145 internationals goals) trails Mia Hamm by 13 goals. Scott Bales/YCJ
Categories: North America, U.S.A., Women
Tags: Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Sahlen Stadium, Sydney Leroux, U.S. Fan Tribute Tour