Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
The reward might be a little less fulfilling this time around, but the U.S. women's national team has an important date against Japan on the docket.
Abby Wambach and substitute Sydney Leroux scored, and despite conceding a stoppage-time tally, the U.S. women defeated longtime rival Norway, 2-1, in the second group game of the Algarve Cup on Friday. With the win, the U.S. women set up a crucial match against Japan, with the rematch of the World Cup final determining which team will advance to the final of this tournament.
Japan, 2-0 winners over Denmark on Friday, is tied with the United States atop Group B with six points, but the Americans have a three-goal edge in goal differential. A win or draw would put Pia Sundhage's squad in the final, where it would contend for its third straight Algarve Cup title against either Sweden or Germany. A loss would send the U.S. women to the third-place game.
As for Friday's match, Norway has long provided the toughest resistance to the United States — with the U.S. women now holding a 27-19-2 lead in the all-time series — and that proved to be the case yet again. It wasn't until six minutes into the second half on Friday that the Americans broke through, when Wambach, starting alongside Alex Morgan in a 4-4-2 again, finished off a cross from halftime substitute and veteran right back Heather Mitts.
Leroux scored the eventual game-winner just moments after coming on, heading home a ball from Amy Rodriguez, and the U.S. women held on despite a late goal from Elise Thorsnes.
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