Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
As one of the top teams in the world, the U.S. Women’s National Team always scores plenty of goals – and 2013 was no different.
Though their campaign lacked major tournaments with high stakes, the U.S. women still gave us plenty of goals worthy of the “replay” button. Over 16 games and zero losses, the Americans finished the year having scored 56 goals while only allowing 11.
It was a year that saw an array of meaningful goals, even if most of the games were just friendlies. There was the slew of first international goals for a batch of youngsters playing in front of home crowds (Kristie Mewis in Boston, Erika Tymrak in Florida and Morgan Brian in Washington, D.C.). There was a historic, world-record breaking goal (Abby Wambach). Not to mention, there was even a bit of vindication (Sydney Leroux).
Indeed, there were a lot of goals to look at, but SBI picked the top 10 of 2013. Check out our picks with video below (after the jump):
10. Ali Krieger vs. China, March 8
Anytime a defender can score a quality goal, it’s worth taking note. For Ali Krieger at this spring’s Algarve Cup, it looked like she was used to putting balls into the back of the net. Running into a cross from Alex Morgan, Krieger half-volleyed a shot for a swift goal against China.
9. Shannon Boxx vs. Iceland, March 6
With five players from both the U.S. and Iceland touching the ball before it hit the ground, Shannon Boxx scored one of the more unusual goals of the year. A corner kick from Lauren Cheney was punched away by the keeper before a round of headers eventually found Boxx’s head and the back of the net.
8. Alex Morgan vs. Canada, June 2
When Alex Morgan is playing well, she seems unstoppable. Her speed and agility makes what is impossible for most players look easy, but her instincts could be the difference-maker. In a much-hyped match hosted by Canada, Morgan’s perfect first touch of a long ball from Tobin Heath set her up nicely for wide angle shot while running toward the end line, finished with precision.
7. Erika Tymrak vs. Brazil, Nov. 10
For Erika Tymrak, 2013 had already been a breakout year even before she scored her first international goal. After being named the rookie of the year in the National Women’s Soccer League, the national team came calling. In just her second cap, she muscled off a defender and dribbled through traffic for a memorable low-driving first goal.
6. Sydney Leroux vs. Brazil, Nov. 10
Against a determined Brazilian side, Sydney Leroux finished an impressive passing sequence where the ball touched three players before hitting the ground in the back of the net. A cross from Stephanie Cox was volleyed as a pass from Heather O’Reilly to Leroux, sliding into it to finish near post.
5. Megan Rapinoe vs. Germany, April 5
One of the USWNT’s flashier players, Megan Rapinoe can be counted on to take chances that turn into special goals. Playing out wide with a tight angle, Rapinoe ripped a shot one-time off a bounce and scored the second goal of what would be a 3-3 result against the No. 2-ranked German side.
4. Christen Press vs. Australia, Oct. 20
Anyone who didn’t know Christen Press’ name before sure did by the end of 2013 and her goal against Australia was one of many impressive ones she tallied this year. With a fake-out from Alex Morgan, who let a pass bounce through her legs, Press ran onto the ball and chipped it with the outside of her foot. It was a game-aware goal and Press’ seventh goal in just 10 caps, all in 2013.
3. Carli Lloyd vs. Australia, Oct. 20
If there is a “Carli Lloyd goal,” it’s undoubtedly a right-footed rocket from no closer than the top of the box – but she switched it up against Australia for a spectacular left-footed one-time strike. Running onto a loose deflection, Lloyd connected on a bounce for one of the year’s more memorable strikes.
2. Sydney Leroux vs. Canada, June 2
Sydney Leroux’s goal against Canada this summer was as good as any Leroux has scored. Leroux has a penchant for taking on goalkeepers directly and waiting for them to flinch first – but her cool composure amid a torrent of boos in stoppage time made a world-class goal that much more special.
Marketed as a rematch of the controversial 2012 Olympics semifinal between the North American rivals, the game sold out almost immediately with Canadian fans eager to get revenge on the U.S. It never came though, with the Yanks coasting away, 3-0. Vancouver-born Leroux became the scapegoat of frustrated Canadian fans, who filled the stadium with boos whenever she touched the ball.
Canadian media didn’t appreciate Leroux’s goal celebration – flashing the U.S. crest followed by a shushing gesture aimed at the Canadian supporters section – as is clear from the clip below of SportsNet’s broadcast of the match. But even they had to admit, the goal was some “good football.”
1. Abby Wambach vs. South Korea, June 20
There is no question – 2013 was Abby Wambach’s year. Such a statement almost seems absurd considering Wambach had earned the FIFA women’s Player of the Year award last year, won Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2012, and has received a slew of other top awards in between.
But 2013 was the year Wambach secured her spot in history as the greatest goal-scorer in the world, men and women included. Against South Korea in New Jersey, she broke legend Mia Hamm’s record of 158 international goals, putting Wambach above not just all other soccer players in the U.S. in goals, but worldwide.
Goal No. 158 – the one that brought her level with Hamm’s record – is the quintessential Wambach goal. There is, of course, nothing routine about the goal, but diving headers have been her mainstay over the years. With Wambach cutting and changing directions, she lunged toward a Lauren Cheney cross and finished far post.
Wambach went on to score twice more that night and the rest, as they say, is history.
What were your top USWNT goals of 2013? Do you agree with SBI’s list or is there another goal that stands out for you? Which of SBI’s Top 10 is your favorite?
Share your thoughts below.