Masterful yet again, the U.S. women's national team defeated Russia for the second time in less than a week. In its last three matches, the Americans have outscored opponents 16-0.
John D. Halloran
THE UNITED STATES
February 13, 2014
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women’s national team defeated Russia 8-0 on Thursday night in the final match of a three-game stretch of friendlies played over the past two weeks.
The win was the fourth straight victory for the Americans as they head into the Algarve Cup in Portugal next month. Here are four thoughts from the win.
Heather O’Reilly is at the top of her game
After terrorizing the Russian defense in the U.S.’s 7-0 win last Saturday, Heather O’Reilly didn’t let up on Thursday night, picking up a goal and an assist and winning Woman of the Match honors.
O’Reilly has always been one of the hardest-working players for the U.S. and a major contributor to the team’s success over the past decade, but has often lacked the same level of technical proficiency as the U.S.’s other wingers, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath.
However, in these last two games against Russia, O’Reilly has been absolutely sublime, putting together outstanding passing combinations with her teammates and providing both excellent width and terrific service from the flank. In the 2012 Olympics, former coach Pia Sundhage selected Heath and Rapinoe to start all three of the U.S.’s games in the knockout rounds, but if O’Reilly can keep up this level of play, she is going to create yet another selection headache for U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni.
Megan Rapinoe showed her class
Although the Russians struggled to put up much of a fight, Rapinoe used the match to showcase her diverse skill set. Rapinoe’s passing was superb, as she repeatedly found her teammates in space, either with perfectly-weighted through balls or audacious 50-yard cross field passes.
Rapinoe’s service from the flank was key in the U.S.’s win on Thursday, as she created the own goal early in the 50th minute for the U.S.’s second tally and then helped break the game wide open with her assist to Abby Wambach only minutes later. She finished the night with a goal herself and picked up one more assist.
Kelley O’Hara is back!
Against Russia on Thursday and for the first time since April 9, 2013, Kelley O’Hara was in the starting lineup for the United States women’s national team. This summer, after playing for several months on an injured ankle, O’Hara finally had surgery and has spent the last few months recovering.
O’Hara didn’t have much of an impact on the match and only played 30 minutes before being subbed out, but outside back is one of the few positions where the U.S. could use some more depth. In the 2012 Olympics, O’Hara was a revelation for the U.S., helping the team make up for the loss of the then-injured Ali Krieger as the team went on to win the gold.
Rodriguez and Wambach Could’ve Done Better
Both Amy Rodriguez and Wambach ended up on the scoresheet on Thursday night, but neither was particularly impressive overall. Rodriguez’s goal was an absolute beauty, but she failed to get into the rhythm of the game, especially with her back to pressure in the first half.
Wambach also scored and helped create one of the own goals, but she struggled in her holdup play for much of the game. To their credit, the Russians were very physical with her, but Wambach’s first touch was heavy which made it difficult for the U.S. to work the ball through their forwards in the first half.
With Sydney Leroux and Christen Press both at the top of their game—to say nothing of the currently injured Alex Morgan—Sermanni has some brutal decisions in front of him at the forward position.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.