The United States women's national soccer team kicked off its 2013 campaign on February 9 with a 4-1 victory against Scotland.
It was the first game with Tom Sermanni at the helm. The shoes left to fill by Pia Sundhage are large, but the new era looks to be right on track to keep the USWNT at the top of the soccer world.
Hope Solo was sidelined with a minor calf strain, giving Jill Loyden the start between the posts. The match also saw the return of Ali Krieger to the back line and the addition of young gun Christen Press.
Press had an immediate impact. She made her case to continue being on the squad moving forward. And with Amy Rodriguez taking time away to have a child, it is the perfect time for Press to step up and take her spot on the roster.
In the 13th minute, Krieger booted the ball into the penalty box, where Press found the back of the net with her left foot. Scotland was down 1-0, and the match was all USWNT.
Just 19 minutes later, Tobin Heath placed the ball perfectly for Press grab a second goal with a header to the back of the net.
Press became just the third player in USWNT history to score twice in her debut. After success on the club level, she is translating that to her time on the international stage right away.
After the match she talked about her new position (via ussoccer.com).
“We have a new coach and we are not 100 percent (in positions). It’s a new year, a new team and now a new position so I was doing my best to bring my strengths to the game even though I was in a little bit of a lower and wider position. Playing in the midfield is an opportunity for me to be on the field. We have so many great attacking players, but every chance out there is a chance for me to grow and learn about the game.”
Press also assisted on a goal. In the 52nd minute she delivered the ball to longtime USWNT centerpiece Shannon Boxx, who blasted the ball past the keeper.
Scotland finally got on the board after a poor clearance of the ball. Kim Little put the ball past Nicole Barnhart, who came in for Loyden.
Sydney Leroux would get the goal back and put the final goal in the net in the 89th minute. Her habit of late goals continues, and the USWNT looked good in the 4-1 victory.
However, the game was not all sunshine for the U.S. women. Alex Morgan went down, but the ankle injury was not serious as confirmed by the USWNT Twitter account.
U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt
Alex Morgan injury update: Twisted left ankle. Not serious. Doing rehab. Status for Wed: Day-to-day. #USWNT #USAvSCO2/10/2013, 7:41:27 PM
The USWNT will take on Scotland one more time on February 13 in Nashville.
Sermanni will likely get a chance to see how Press does in his second outing as coach, with Morgan recovering from the first match. Eyes will continue to be on Abby Wambach as she hunts down Mia Hamm's scoring record.
Megan Rapinoe and Rachel Buehler did not suit up for the first meeting after arriving late to training camp.
With the Algarve Cup coming up in March followed by a match against Germany in April, the USWNT is not going to always have such a stark advantage as it did against Scotland. They will meet Sundhage's Sweden team on March 11, which will surely be a highly anticipated event.
The supreme talent Sermanni has to work with should make the transition much easier for him.
But with matches against Sweden and Germany coming early in his tenure, he will be put to the test as fans look toward 2015.
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