FARO, Portugal - The U.S. Women's National Team won the Algarve Cup for the ninth time after former Cal player Alex Morgan's two goals earned a 2-0 victory against Germany Wednesday in Faro, Portugal. Six current and former Tar Heel players earned gold medals for the American side. The group of UNC veterans included defenders Crystal Dunn and Whitney Engen, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and midfielders Tobin Heath, Heather O'Reilly and Yael Averbuch.
Engen, Averbuch and Heath were starters versus Germany. Engen went the full 90 minutes while Averbuch played 68 minutes and Heath 82. Dunn came on in the back line in the 58th minute and played the rest of the way. Harris and O'Reilly were not deployed in the championship contest although O'Reilly had been named Budweiser Woman of the Match in two of the previous three games in the Algarve Cup.
Morgan scored twice in the first half and head coach Tom Sermanni's team put in a comprehensive performance to defeat the second-ranked team in the world.
The USA made six changes to the lineup that faced Sweden two days earlier, with Sermanni forced to withdraw Megan Rapinoe at the last moment. The U.S. midfielder, who would later be named Player of the Tournament, sustained an injury at the last moment and was replaced by Tobin Heath.
Looking to earn its first trophy under Sermanni, who took the reins of the team in late 2012, the U.S. dictated the pace against Germany from the opening whistle.
Morgan started the scoring in the 13th minute after some hard work on the right wing from strike partner Sydney Leroux. Leroux got to the byline before whipping in a dangerous cross that Germany's center defender Josephine Henning tried to head clear. But the ball fell to Morgan just inside the area and the U.S. forward was lethal: taking one touch before firing into the top corner with her left foot.
The Europeans were a constant threat for an equalizer but the U.S. defense was strong as a unit. A nice move in the 22nd minute freed up Anja Mittag in the area, but right back Ali Krieger made a superb tackle to prevent a shot and snuff out the danger.
Twelve minutes later the U.S. doubled its lead, with Morgan again doing the damage. Germany should have dealt with a routine ball over the top from Tobin Heath but a mix up between goalkeeper Almuth Schult and her defense let Morgan steal the ball. She had the easiest of finishes and stayed composed, rolling the ball home into the empty net from the edge of the box for her second on the day.
Nicole Barnhart was at her best throughout the match but particularly in the second half. She was called into action in the 69th minute after a Germany free kick was headed toward the goal by substitute Alexandra Popp. Barnhart sprung to her right to claw out the initial effort, before reacting brilliantly to keep out Celia Okoyino da Mbabi on the rebound. She also made a huge save in the final minute to secure the shutout when she dove to her left to deny Mbabi.
The U.S. Women will return to Europe in about two weeks for matches against Germany in Offenbech on April 5 and against the Netherlands in The Hague on April 9.
- The USA played in its 14th Algarve Cup Final in 18 years of competing in this tournament. The USA has won nine Algarve Cup titles overall, winning in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013.
- The USA improved its unbeaten streak to 29 games, with the last loss coming against Japan on March 5 at the 2012 Algarve Cup in Portugal. During that span, the U.S. has scored 91 goals while allowing 21 in 25 wins and four draws.
- The match in the Algarve Cup Final against Germany becomes a first leg of sorts as the two sides will also meet each other in the following game for both teams, a friendly match on April 5 in Offenbach, Germany.
- Tobin Heath, usually a flank midfielder, started the game in the middle at attacking midfield as Carli Lloyd was held out due to a shoulder injury. Heath assisted on the second goal.
- U.S. Women's National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Germany
Date: March 13, 2013
Competition: 2013 Algarve Cup; Championship Game
Venue: Algarve Stadium; Faro, Portugal
Kickoff: 5 p.m. local / 1 p.m. ET
Weather: 56 degrees, sunny, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
GER 0 0 0
USA - Alex Morgan 13th minute
USA - Alex Morgan 33
USA : 18-Nicole Barnhart; 11-Ali Krieger (6-Crystal Dunn, 58), 19-Rachel Buehler, 14-Whitney Engen, 5-Kelley O'Hara; 23-Christen Press (20-Abby Wambach, 75), 7-Shannon Boxx (capt.), 16-Yael Averbuch (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 68), 17-Tobin Heath (8-Kristie Mewis, 82); 13-Alex Morgan, 2-Sydney Leroux Substitutions Not Used: 3-Christie Rampone, 9-Heather O'Reilly, 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 17-Tobin Heath, 22-Lindsey Horan, 24-Ashlyn Harris Head coach: Tom Sermanni
GER: 12-Almuth Schult; 4-Babett Peter (capt.) (27-Jennifer Cramer, 46), 22-Luisa Wensing, 23-Josephine Henning, 25-Leonie Maier; 15-Verena Faißt (18-Svenja Huth, 75) 17-Viola Odebrecht (26-Nadine Keßler, 46, 10-Linda Bresonik, 60), 20-Lena Goeßling, 14-Dzsenifer Marozsan (24-Lena Lotzen, 81); 13-Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, 11-Anja Mittag (9-Alexandra Popp, 46) Substitutions Not Used: 1-Nadine Angerer, 3-Saskia Bartusiak, 7-Melanie Behringer, 8-Kim Kulig, 21-Laura Benkarth, 29-Isabel Kerschowoski Head coach: Silvia Neid
USA / GER
Shots: 6 / 12
Shots on Goal: 3 / 5
Saves: 5 / 1
Corner Kicks: 1 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 14
Offside: 3 / 6
Misconduct Summary: USA - Sydney Leroux (caution) 23rd minute
Officials: Referee: Carol Anne Chenard (CAN) Assistant Referee 1: Marie-Josee Charbonneau (CAN) Assistant Referee 2: Suzanne Morisset (CAN) Fourth Official: Esther Staubli (SUI)Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan