US tops Mexico 1-0 in final tuneup for World Cup
The U.S. women’s national team made a statement in their 1-0 win
over Mexico on Sunday in its final World Cup tuneup.
The Americans are as deep as anyone in the world.
Lauren Cheney proved as much when she scored her third
international goal of the year on a 25-yard shot past Mexico
goalkeeper Ceci Santiage in the first minute of stoppage time. The
forward had entered the game in the 61st minute in place of Amy
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said that kind of depth is going to come
into play when her team begins the World Cup on June 28 against
North Korea in Dresden, Germany. The 2011 field is one of the
deepest ever, and fresh, effective legs will be the key to any
”We’re going to play many games in the World Cup, and we need
the players coming off the bench,” Sundhage said on a day in which
the team honored retired forward Kristine Lilly, the national
record holder with 352 international caps.
”Each team out there is deep,” Rodriguez said. ”We saw that
here when Lauren Cheney scored that goal for us. You want the best
player to be able to come off and not miss a beat, and we proved
how deep we are on our bench.”
The U.S. team will take a three-game winning streak, following
consecutive 2-0 wins against Japan, into an eight-day break before
heading to their Austrian camp. They will train until five days
before the North Korea match.
They last saw their future opponent in a 2-2 draw in the 2007
Cheney’s goal came at the end of a dominant game in which the
U.S. outshot Mexico 34-4. But because of Santiago, who stopped 13
of the Americans’ 14 shots on goal, the squad was in danger of
heading to Austria will an unsatisfying tie.
Instead, the second-year national team member got a feed from
Abby Wambach well outside the box. Picking up her head, she let
loose a blast that beat the leaping Santiago into the upper left
corner of the goal.
”I was looking behind me for Alex (Morgan) and Abby, but their
back line had dropped so far that I just picked my head up and took
a shot,” Cheney said. ”We were so successful getting into the box
all game, I don’t think the goalie was expecting a shot
The victory sends the U.S. team off on a high note.
So high, in fact, that Sundhage felt moved to serenade the
announced crowd of 5,852 with a verse from the Bruce Springsteen
hit ”Dancing in the Dark” – ”You can’t start a fire without a
spark” – adding that her squad has a spark.
And Rodriguez, whose three open first-half shots went awry, said
a tie would not suffice.
”Absolutely not,” she said. ”Pia’s always said we’re a better
team for 90 minutes than any other team out there. We proved that
today. A lot of teams can hang with us in the beginning, but we’re
dedicated and we don’t give up. That’s why we’re able to score in
the 91st minute.”