THE UNITED STATES WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM TAKES ON RUSSIA
There were many reasons to celebrate today’s game, USWNT (United States Women’s National Team) vs. Russia: It was the women’s first time here in history, it’s a great opportunity to see soccer played at the highest level, and it gave everyone a reason to get out the house since we survived Snowpocalypse Part II. It was especially sweet for defender Kelley O’Hara who had the chance to come back to where it all began (a native Georgian).
There’s no doubt our girls came into the game confident after a 7-0 thrashing of Russia just last week. It didn’t take long to break the Russian defense as the first goal came in the 11’ (11th minute). A shot by USA’s Whitney Engen ricocheted off the post, off Russian GK Maria Zhamanakova, and into the netting.
USA wouldn’t let up, as we approached the 18’, USA’s Megan Rapinoe took a shot from about 10 yards away which was a bit off-target. As the game continued you could hear plenty of noise coming from the USA supporters club (Atlanta Outlaws) which came in a large number to support our ladies’ first visit to ATL!
Right when USA’s Heather O’Reilly was on a breakaway after receiving a lovely pass from Rapinoe the lines judge called an extremely late offside which brought the attack to a halt.
In the 41’ Carli Lloyd fired a rocket straight at Russian GK Zhamanakova but was saved easily. The girls were relentless on offense! Rapinoe took a corner and crossed it perfectly to Abby Wambach whose header came up just short as Russia’s Zhamanakova knocked it away.
In the 50’ another own goal was called as Russia’s Valentina Orlova took a deflection from Abby Wambach that rolled into the goal. Soon after that, Amy Rodriguez hit the sweetest volley any forward could ask for (served by Heather O’Reilly) and made the game 3-0 in favor of USA. The goals kept coming as Rapinoe nailed a low cross to Wambach and tapped it into the net. So to start the 2nd half, there were goals in the 50’, 51’, and 52’ minute of action. In stoppage time (because Wambach caught the Russian GK in the face during the goal) the score was then 4-0 USA.
Megan Rapinoe was able to tally a goal of her own as she scored a long ball from outside the 17 yard box with an assist by Morgan Brian in the 65’.
After Lauren Holiday was fouled in the box (penalty box), she successfully converted her penalty kick to make the game 6-0 in favor of the USA. If that wasn’t enough Heather O’Reilly nailed a volley in the near-side corner netting to tie last game’s tally of 7 goals.
Recent sub Christen Press wanted in on the action as she dribbled right through Russia’s defense and fired a rocket into goal. With that goal the game was now 8-0 in the 86’ (with another assist by Megan Rapinoe).
With a 7-0 win in Florida and a 8-0 win at the Georgia Dome, the USWNT have to be feeling confident going into March to compete for the Algarve Cup. The lopsided victory for the U.S. was congruent with their stats:
- 24 shots, 17 of them were on goal.
- 0 saves
- 8 corner kicks
- 1 offside
With their match against Japan is just a few weeks away, our girls will want to keep their stellar run of form. After the game we asked striker Sydney Leroux if these back-to-back victories helped them going into the Algarve Cup:
“I think that us getting minutes together and playing more together is going to be more of a help for us than beating a teammate (referencing playing against each other in the NWSL). Because that’s not gonna happen against a Japan or a Sweden or a Germany. I think that sometimes we get away with.. in games like these (points to the field), pure athletic ability. Whereas when we get into those big games that can’t happen, so we’re gonna to have to figure out some things and it’ll be a good test for us.”
An 8-nil victory for USA was a perfect way to end an icy week in Atlanta.
Photography: Hakim Wright