Wambach scores twice, U.S. women beat China
Published: Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 11:54 p.m.
BOCA RATON — Abby Wambach capped the year with another scoring burst.
The former Gator scored twice to lead the United States to a 4-1 exhibition victory over China on Saturday night before a crowd of 10,493 at FAU Stadium.
“This ends a really great year, so everybody’s happy,” Wambach said.
The 32-year-old Wambach has 152 international goals, six behind Mia Hamm for the U.S. record.
Megan Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux also scored for the Olympic champion Americans in their third consecutive match against China in the finale of a 10-game Fan Tribute tour.
The U.S. finished 8-0-2 in the post-Olympic exhibition games and ran its unbeaten streak to 23.
“It was an unbelievable year for us, coming off the World Cup,” U.S. captain Christie Rampone said. “It was a whole journey to get to the Olympics and the battles. The good and bad days of training all paid us for us.”
The United States struck quickly against China on Wambach’s goal in the 18th minute. Alex Morgan’s pass from the left wing found Wambach near the 6-yard box. Wambach headed Morgan’s cross inside the left post.
Rapinoe took advantage of an errant clear from Chinese goalkeeper Wang Fei and gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead with her goal in the 36th minute. Fei darted 10 yards outside the large area to clear Kelly O’Hara’s pass. Rapinoe retrieved Fei’s clear and sent a 40-yard shot that bounced into the unmarked net.
“As soon as it came off, I knew it was going in,” Rapinoe said. “I didn’t hit it that hard. I hit it right down center.”
The Chinese ended their series’ scoring drought and cut the deficit to 2-1 on Han Peng’s goal in the 36th minute. Li Ying sent a pass toward Peng, who dribbled toward her left, shifted a couple of steps to her right and converted on a shot a couple of yards inside the penalty area.
The goal was China’s first in 226 minutes after 2-0 and 4-0 losses in the tour’s first two matches against the Americans. Peng’s goal also ended a 401-minute shutout streak for the United States that began following a 2-2 tie against Germany on Oct. 23.
Wambach scored her second goal in the 64th minute. Rapinoe sent a pass from the left wing to Wambach, who headed in a shot from 8 yards.
Morgan, who finished the year with 28 goals, and Wambach combined to tie the U.S. scoring record by two players in one year. Michelle Akers (39 goals) and Carin Jennings (16) had the previous record in 1991.
“It means so much to me because Alex and I spend so much time encouraging each other in practice, drill after drill,” Wambach said. “When Alex scores, it lights something inside me and when I score it lights something inside her.”
Leroux scored the Americans’ fourth goal in the 87th minute.
Jill Ellis guided the U.S. in her last game as interim head coach on Saturday. Ellis had a 5-0-2 record after taking over for Pia Sundhage. Former Australia coach Tom Sermanni will take over in January.
Saturday’s game was the Americans’ first in Florida since a 1-0 win over South Korea in 2008 in Tampa.