Abby Wambach leads USA past Canada
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Abby Wambach made the most of her last match before a little rest and relaxation.
The veteran on the U.S. women's national team scored two goals in a 3-0 victory over Canada in a friendly at Jeld-Wen Field on Thursday night.
The exhibition was the second of a two-match Celebration Series to thank stateside fans for their support of the U.S. women's team during the thrilling run in the Women's World Cup in Germany this summer. The U.S. women faced Japan in the final but ultimately lost on penalty kicks.
After Thursday night's match, both the United States and Canada were going to take some time off before preparations for Olympic qualification begin.
"This is the last game for us for the season, so we wanted to go out with a win," Wambach said. "We wanted to give the fans something to cheer about."
The teams played to a 1-all draw in the opening match in Kansas City this past Saturday. Wambach converted an early penalty kick to give the United States the lead until Melissa Tancredi tied it late in the first half. The result ended Canada's seven-match losing streak to the U.S. women.
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage has experimented during the series with a one-forward system, playing Wambach up front.
Canada, meanwhile, has been adjusting to new coach Jon Herdmann after a disappointing World Cup. The sixth-ranked Canadians lost to Germany, France and Nigeria to exit after the first round.
The two teams will start training again in November and December. The top two teams from the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, scheduled for Jan. 19-29 in Vancouver, British Columbia, advance to the London Games. The U.S. will compete along with Canada, Mexico, three teams from the Caribbean and two teams from Central America.
Hope Solo wore the captain's armband on Thursday night to commemorate her 100th cap, earned in the World Cup semifinal against France.
Solo, who is competing on "Dancing with the Stars," was a fan favorite at Jeld-Wen Field, home of the Portland Timbers. She acknowledged the support with a wave when she was subbed out in the second half for Jill Loyden.
But the crowd went wild for Megan Rapinoe, who played at the University of Portland. Twice in the first half she leveled what looked like winning strikes on the net, and twice she hit the crossbar. After the second, she threw her hands up in frustration.
"That's football, I guess," Rapinoe said afterward. "We got the goals in the end."
Wambach saved the day for the United States. She scored an unassisted goal in the 63rd minute and added another goal from out front in the 70th minute. That gave her 125 career goals in international competition. Fans implored for one more by chanting: "Wambach Hat Trick!"
Alex Morgan added the final goal in the 92nd minute.
A crowd of 18,570 attended the match in Portland, which proclaimed itself Soccer City, USA, back in the mid-1970s when it embraced the Timbers' early success in the North American Soccer League. The city's support of the game has grown throughout the years with the Portland Pilots' success, and currently with the Timbers' leap to Major League Soccer this season.
The Portland Pilots women's team won NCAA titles in 2002 and 2005.
In addition to Rapinoe, U.S. defender Stephanie Cox also played for the Pilots, as did Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt. Christine Sinclair, a star on the Canadian national team, did not play in the exhibition series.
"They have such phenomenal players," Schmidt said of the U.S. team, "that sometimes they just have a little magic."
Herdmann said he's happy with what he's seen in his short time with Canada.
"The biggest thing is we have a good foundation and good people to work with," he said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press