After falling behind late in the first-half to Norway, two goals from Carli Lloyd gave the US the 2-1 win in its first game of the Algarve Cup.
With the Women’s World Cup beginning in less than 100 days, and a few lingering injuries to veteran players, the Algarve Cup is a final chance for younger and fringe players to get valuable tournament minutes before possibly taking the field in Winnipeg this June.
The first chance of the game came early from veteran Abby Wambach, who has been the subject of recent debate over what role she should play in the up-coming World Cup. Wambach showed she was still able to win the air battles by easily getting her head to a corner, but the ball was sent well wide of the goal.
Shortly after, in the 4th minute, Norway had two quick opportunities to pull ahead after Hope Solo, fresh off of her 30-day suspension, was involved in a collision while trying to pull in a high cross from the right. There was no whistle from the ref, but Norway’s Emilie Haavi was unable to capitalize on Solo being taken out of the play and saw her first shot hit a teammate and her second effort blocked by Ali Krieger.
Carli Lloyd nearly gave the US the lead 5 minutes later. After receiving the ball outside of the box Lloyd froze defender Trine Ronning with a slick step over to get free into the penalty area, but Lloyd failed to beat goalkeeper Sillje Vesterbekkmo.
The US continued to push forward and once again had a chance to take the lead when Christen Press calmly side-stepped a lunging tackle to send in a shot from well outside of the penalty arc that beat Vesterbekkmo but bounced off the near post.
In the 43rd minute, Norway took advantage of some poor defending by the US to take the lead against the run of play. After an overlapping run towards the end line, Kristine Minde sent a cross in from the right to an unmarked Ada Hegergerg. Despite Solo getting a touch to the ball, Hergerberg’s header clipped the underside of the cross bar to give the Norwegians the advantage going into halftime.
After having a relatively quiet first half, Alex Morgan provided the first offensive opportunity when play resumed. In the 51st minute Morgan was played behind the Norwegian defense along the left flank. The ‘keeper came well off of her line to meet Morgan near the corner of the 18, but Morgan’s attempt at a chip shot went right into the keeper.
Norway responded with a run down their right side to try and take advantage of substitute Meghan Klingenberg that resulted in a corner in the 54th minute. The service into the box was knocked down. The US defense lost track of the ball and Solveig Gulbrandsen pounced on the loose ball and sent a shot far post, but Solo was able to make the save and keep the US from going down two goals.
In the 57th minute Lloyd leveled the score line from much more familiar territory. After receiving the ball from Press with her back to goal, Lloyd took the ball to her right and fired a left-footed shot from outside the box far post that left the keeper with little she could do to prevent the goal.
Minutes later Press was involved in another goal when her shot struck Norwegian defender Inger Ane Hole’s arm inside the box to earn a PK. Lloyd stepped up to the spot and side footed the ball up into the upper 90 to the keeper’s left to give the US the lead in the 62nd minute.
The US continued to push forward and nearly had a second PK when Krieger, who had been making aggressive runs up the right side all night, was taken down inside the box, but the ref waved the play on.
Norway’s last chance of the game came in the 77nd minute when Solo knocked down a shot from distance. A Norwegian attacker had lost her mark and was in the vicinity, but Solo was able to get the ball under control.
The USWNT’s next game is against Switzerland on Friday, March 6th at 11 a.m. CST and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
NOR 1 0 1
NOR – Ada Hegerberg (Kristine Minde) 43rd minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (Christen Press) 55
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty kick) 62
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 26-Julie Johnston, 16-Lori Chalupny (25-Meghan Klingenberg, 46); 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Holiday (15-Megan Rapinoe, 90+1), 14-Morgan Brian, 23-Christen Press (17-Tobin Heath, 78); 13-Alex Morgan (2-Sydney Leroux, 78), 20-Abby Wambach (capt.) (8-Amy Rodriguez, 56)
Subs Not Used: 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Whitney Engen, 7-Shannon Boxx, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 19-Rachel Van Hollebeke, 22-Crystal Dunn, 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head coach: Jill Ellis
NOR: 12-Silje Vesterbekkmo; 6-Maren Mjelde, 7-Trine Rønning (capt.), 2-Marita Lund, 3-Inger Ane Hole; 17-Lene Mykjåland, 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen (14-Gry Tofte Ims, 74), 20-Emilie Haavi (19-Marie Markussen, 69); 18-Kristine Minde, 8-Isabel Herlovsen, 21-Ada Hegerberg
Subs Not Used: 1-Ingrid Hjelmseth, 4-Melissa Bjånesoy, 5-Hedda Gardsjord, 10-Maria Thorisdottir, 11-Ida Elise Enget, 13-Ingrid Moe Wold, 15-Anja Sønstevold, 16-Andrine Hegerberg, 22-Cathrine Dekkerhus, 23-Cecille Fiskerstrand
Head coach: Even Pellerud
Stats Summary: USA / NOR
Shots: 12 / 5
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 3
Fouls: 5 / 11
Offside: 4 / 0
NOR – Trine Ronnin (caution) 62nd minute