Heather O'Reilly became the ninth U.S. woman to reach 200 caps, scoring in her landmark appearance Wednesday. (Scott A. Miller/AP)
Heather O'Reilly joined exclusive company in style, as the U.S. women saved face in their finale at the Algarve Cup on Wednesday.
O'Reilly became the ninth U.S. woman to reach 200 caps, scoring the final goal -- the 40th in her international career -- in the USA's 3-0 win over North Korea in their seventh-place match at the competition in Portugal. O'Reilly joins Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Tiffeny Milbrett, Kate Markgraf and Abby Wambach in the 200-cap club. Wambach added to her world-record goal tally by scoring the first two Wednesday, and her mark now stands at 167.
More importantly, the goals helped the U.S. end an otherwise forgettable tournament on a high note. The U.S. women had dropped two straight -- losing to Sweden and Denmark -- to snap their 43-game unbeaten run and lose consecutive matches for the first time in 13 years.
In the loss to Denmark, the Americans conceded five goals for the first time in their illustrious history. Manager Tom Sermanni used the tournament to mix in younger, fresher faces with the established veterans, but a stronger outing was expected -- as is typically the case -- instead of the underachieving finish.
CREDITOR: Struggles continue for U.S. women at Algarve Cup
U.S. winger Megan Rapinoe put things in perspective following the loss on Monday, telling U.S. Soccer's official website: “We’re seven months away from qualifiers and even longer from the World Cup, and for the most part, everyone is fit and healthy going into the NWSL season. Of course, we want to have to better results, but it’s not time to get to down on ourselves or be panicked. No one wins every game in football and these last two games we played excellent teams and just didn’t get it done.”
They got it done Wednesday, and they now turn their attention to consecutive friendlies next month against China that lead into a high-profile friendly against 2015 Women's World Cup host and regional rival Canada in May.
“The results in this tournament are obviously not up to our standards," Rampone, the team captain, said. "We have to re-focus and re-evaluate and we will get better leading into the rest of the year. A lot of young players got some time against great teams and that can only help moving forward.”
As for O'Reilly, U.S. Soccer compiled this highlight reel to commemorate her achievement: