By: Pedro Heizer
It took a little bit of time, but when the scoring began the floodgates opened and Russia did not know what hit them.
Behind the two-goal efforts from midfielder Carli Lloyd and forward Christen Press, the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Russia 7-0 at FAU Stadium.
From the opening minute it was clear that the USWNT was superior to the Russia in almost every way, however, the team was not able to capitalize. Heather O’Reilly was dominant in the right side but was unable to score at the start.
“Luckily in the beginning of the game, I was happy to get a lot of opportunities on the outside,” explained O’Reilly. “I wish we could have converted some of those early chances. It took us a little bit longer to put one away than we would have liked, but we stayed persistent and we kept good habits, and that’s how we saw goals come our way.”
Then, in the 29th minute Carli Lloyd split a pair of Russia defenders and saw herself right in front of the goal. Lloyd sent a rocket past Russian keeper Elvira Todua in the upper right corner to the first goal of the afternoon.
“That [goal] kind of knocked the steam out of Russia,” explained USWNT head coach, Tom Sermanni. “Russia defended well for the first 20-25 minutes and made life difficult for us.”
Three minutes later, the Americans were once again in the scoring end after O’Reilly, who dominated the right side the entire first half, found herself in the right place after a cross was deflected by Russia’s Marina Pushkareva.
“I found myself in the middle of the box when a lot of times I’m sort of on the back side as an outside player,” explained O’Reilly. “The ball was just bouncing around and I was able to pounce on it the way I see some of my teammates so every single day in training. And, today was my turn, so I feel good about that.”
After that, it seemed as if the floodgates were opened as the USWNT went on a scoring tear courtesy of Lloyd, Christen Press, Sydney Leroux, and Abby Wambach.
Lloyd scored her second of the game after bringing down a pass from Stephanie Cox with her chest. Lloyd then dribbled past the entire left side Russian defense and let it rip up the left corner of the coal to give the US the 3-0 going into halftime.
“Lloyd was outstanding,” praised Sermanni. “I thought from the center of midfield, she dominated the game from in there. The great thing is our two central midfield players did [dominate the game]. Their positioning and movement of the ball, I thought was outstanding. [Carli] deserved a hat trick there and some more goals in the second half. It wasn’t so much about just getting in the result. I thought some of the habits and some of the things we’ve been doing in training really came into the game today. I was really pleased about that.”
The second half was a lot more of the same, as the Americans scored three goals in the timespan of 10 minutes.
In the 51st minute, Carli Lloyd sent a cross in the box that found the head of Christen Press to make it 4-0 for the USWNT. Three minutes later, Lauren Holiday crossed to a cutting Sydney Leroux who was able to fight off a defender, as she lunged for the ball and cut it past Todua in the left post to make it 5-0. In the 59th minute, a Ali Krieger cross was deflected by Todua, and Press was first to the rebound to tap it home for a 6-0 lead.
Already up by six goals, Coach Tom Sermanni’s side never let up the pressure for a minute, attacking as hard in the second half as they did in the first. As if to add salt to the wound, he introduced the country’s leading scorer, Abby Wambach, in for Press in the 59th minute to make sure the Americans continued to pressure the visitors. Wambach saw an Amy Rodriguez cross skip clear through the Russian back line where she tapped it into an empty net in the 67th minute to extend the margin to seven goals.
With the win, the USWNT extended its unbeaten streak at home to 79 games (69-0-10) and extended its overall unbeaten streak to 41 games (35-0-6), dating back to March of 2012.
“We feel awesome,” explained O’Reilly of reactions after the match. It’s cool and rewarding when you see things from the training pitch translate to games and to goals. We’re happy with some of our growth right now, and obviously, the score. We scored some really fantastic goals today. It’s exciting.”
The USA and Russia square off again on Wed., Feb. 12, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.