Boca Raton, Fl. – The United States finished off the Fan Tribute Tour in style tonight with a 4-1 drubbing of a game but overmatched China. After scoring career goals 149 and 150 in Houston it took Abby Wambach just 18 minutes to add number 151 tonight in Florida. The U.S. came out very determined, putting China under heavy pressure from the start. That pressure paid dividends in the 18th minute, when Wambach headed home from Alex Morgan’s looping cross. Wambach would add 152 before the night was out.
The two tried it again in the 24th minute, but China keeper Wang Fei pulled off a fine save of Wambach’s header. Once again China looked overmatched and the U.S. dominance began to frustrate the visitors, with Zhang Rui picking up a yellow for a rash challenge on Megan Rapinoe.
Rapinoe got her revenge in the best way, a 36th minute goal. And what a goal it was. A poor back pass forced the China keeper to play the ball 10 yards outside her box, with Heather O‘Reilly bearing down on her. Fei hit a poor clearance and with the empty net beckoning, Rapinoe floated home a goal from 40 plus yards.
“It was beautiful pass from the keeper,” a happy Rapinoe said afterwards. “Those are the ones that either go over the scoreboard or in the back of the net.” Rapinoe wasn’t too worried though. “As soon it came off I knew it was going in”, Rapinoe said confidently.
China could have thrown in the towel and taken their beating, but to their credit, China kept at it. They got their reward with a fantastic goal in the 45th minute, when winger Han Peng turned Amy LePeilbet inside out with some great moves, and blasted a beaut past Hope Solo.
The Americans started the second half determined to make up for that goal and when they did it was Wambach again, this time with a record equalizing 55th for the year. Wambach’s 27th of the year combined with Alex Morgan’s 28, accounted for the duo’s total of 55, and tied them with Michelle Akers and Carin Jennings. Akers had 39 of that total, still the USWNT record.
The record meant a lot to Wambach. “Something I’m very happy with is Alex and I broke a record, we didn’t break it, we tied a record today,” Wambach said. “Michelle Akers and Carin Gabbara, I guess back then it was Jennings. Tying that record means so much to me,” Wambach said. “Alex and me, we spend so much time together in practice, drill after drill, shot after shot.” The veteran striker said, “when Alex scores it lights something inside me, and when I score it lights something inside her.” “We have,” Wambach states, a really healthy competitiveness, because at the end of the day more than anything, it matters to win games.” “And for us,” Wambach said, “to have a shared record with those two icons and legends is something I really am proud of.”
The U.S tacked a late goal from Sydney Leroux, when the young striker powered home a header off of a good cross from Heather Mitts.
A crowd of 10,493 came out to see the final game of the Fan Tribute tour, during which the Olympic Champions went 8-0-2, twice being tied by Germany. On this tour the national team also lost one coach, Pia Sundhage, and gained another Tom Sermanni. It was announced tonight that Sermanni will take the reins for the first time in Jacksonville, Florida on February 9 when Scotland, Sermanni’s native country, will provide the opposition.
USA: Hope Solo, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone (capt.), Rachel Buehler, Amy LePeilbet, Heather O’Reilly, Carli Lloyd, Shannon Boxx, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach
subs: Heather Mitts, Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez, Sydney Leroux,Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath, Nicole Barnhart
China: Wang Fei, Li Juayue, Pu Wei (capt.), Wang Dongi, Wang Chen, Han Peng, Huang Yini, Ren Guixin, Zhang Rui, Wu Haiyan, Li Ying
subs: Zhang Yue, Wang Lingling, Lin Yuping, Bi Yan, Ma Xiaoxu, Wang Shanshan, Liu Shanshan, Wang Lisi, Zhang Xin