Posted on September 20, 2012
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Pia Sundhage admitted she had a problem with how to say goodbye to the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I didn’t know exactly how to say goodbye,” she said. “It’s hard to say thank you to the players. In the pre-game talk, we took the starting lineup and talked about attacking and then I played for them. They laid down on the floor and closed their eyes and I played some songs for them.”
She then played, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Times They Are A Changing,” “If Not for You,” and “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Then the Americans went on and put on a show of their own in a 6-2 triumph over Australia in the third game of the Fan Tribute Tour at Dick’s Sporting Good Park on Wednesday night. The U.S. is unbeaten against Australia at 22-0-2.
“It’s very emotional,” Sundhage said. “This is just fantastic. A great win and good soccer and a crowd that is happy and supportive. You can’t ask for more.”
The victory capped up Sundhage’s five-year tenure. she finished with two Olympic gold medals, a second-place finish at the 2011 Women’s World cup and a 91-6-10 record.
“I think I’m a better coach after having been here for five years coaching on the highest level, in three finals and making all kinds of decisions with the team,” Sundhage said. “I’m very grateful and very happy for the team. It’s the best team in the world.”
Alex Morgan led the way with two goals and Abby Wambach deposited the game-winner as the United States unloaded for four second-half goals.
Heather O’Reilly opened the scoring for the hosts in the 25th minute, but Australia came back to take a 2-1 lead behind goal from Lisa de Vanna and Sarah Walsh, who was playing her last game for the Matildas. After Morgan and Wambach provided the U.S. with the lead, Shannon Boxx and Sydney Leroux rounded out the scoring.
“Today is Pia’s day and we’ve been talking about it all day about what can we do to show her,” Wambach said. “She’s a passionate woman about this game and we knew the best thing we can do was give her a win and we did that.”
After the final whistle, the team serenaded Sundhage, who took a final victory lap around the stadium.
“We planned on doing that in our pre-game meal, but she ended up playing for us,” Morgan said. “So, we never had the opportunity. Now, we had the perfect opportunity because we never sing to her.”
The U.S., which improved to 23-1-1 this year, will face Germany at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. on Oct. 20.
Photo: Pia Sundhage: “It’s very emotional. This is just fantastic. A great win and good soccer and a crowd that is happy and supportive. You can’t ask for more.” Scott Bales/YCJ
Categories: North America, U.S.A., Women
Tags: Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Pia Sundhage, U.S. Women's National Team