The United States finished seventh at the 2014 Algarve Cup, following a resounding 3-0 defeat of Korea DPR in Parchal, Portugal.
With the win, the U.S. women's national team avoids what would've been its first three-game losing streak since 1993, per ESPN's Paul Carr:
#USWNT ends Algarve Cup vs North Korea at 7 AM ET. U.S. looks to avoid 3rd 3-game losing streak, 1st since 1993.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 12, 2014
The Algarve Cup hasn't gone according to plan for the Americans. They drew their first match with Japan 1-1, and it only went downhill from there. Losses to both Sweden and Denmark followed, leaving the U.S. last in Group B and with only a seventh-place match to close out the tournament.
North Korea came into the match a perfect 3-for-3, but their road had been much easier, as it was designed to be.
The United States came into this match as heavy favorites and demonstrated why early. It took all of 11 minutes for Abby Wambach to put the U.S. ahead.
It was a trademark Wambach goal, per U.S. women's national team Twitter account:
Perfect far post service and Wambach finishes with a powerful diving header from close range. 1-0 USA 11'— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 12, 2014
That made it 166 career goals for the legendary American, moving her eight ahead of second-place Mia Hamm.
With the one-goal cushion, the United States were able to exert more influence on the match. North Korea strung together some nice passing movements and looked good on the counter-attack, but the U.S. had it scouted out well.
The Americans knew how quickly the North Koreans could strike, so they were careful not to be ripped apart like they were against Denmark. The defense as a whole was miles better than it was on Monday, which was some of the worst soccer you've ever seen from the women's national team.
You could sense that the United States needed a second goal in order to put North Korea away for good, and once again, the U.S. called upon Wambach. She added a second goal in the 59th minute, effectively ending any chance of a South Korean comeback:
Just when we say that, world class dribbling run from Carli Lloyd down the left. Strength, power and skills to get to the end line...— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 12, 2014
Lloyd cuts a short pass back to Wambach who, we're not making this up, with her back to the goal...— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 12, 2014
Wambach's brace was her 40th multi-goal game of her national team career, the most in U.S. history:
Two goals for Abby Wambach so far. She has a #USWNT-record 40 career multi-goal games.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 12, 2014
Just for good measure, Heather O'Reilly put the United States ahead 3-0 in the 88th minute, and the game finished that way.
O'Reilly joined Wambach in hitting a milestone on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Women's National Team Twitter feed:
O'Reilly's 40th career goal to go with 50 career assists in 200 games. Congrats HAO!— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 12, 2014
Although Wambach will grab the headlines, the performance of Carli Lloyd can't be ignored:
Second assist in the match for Lloyd, who has played a heck of a game in midfield. 1 minute of stoppage added.— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 12, 2014
Neither can how well the defense played. As mentioned before, it was unrecognizable from the one that played Denmark, failing to concede a single shot to North Korea:
Tremendous team defense today. North Korea had some nice attacks in the first half and the start of the second, but no shots on goal.— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 12, 2014
Although Sermanni and his players will take little solace in ending the Algarve Cup with a win, it at least builds some momentum going forward.
The United States women's national team won't play again for a few weeks. On April 6 and 10, they have a two-match series against China. The first meeting is at Dick's Sporting Goods Park outside Denver, and the second is at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
After that, they play Canada in Winnipeg in preparation for CONCACAF qualification for the the 2015 starts against Mexico in October.
The U.S. will no doubt be the team to beat in North America and one of the favorites in Canada next summer.