March 02, 2012

Seven games, seven goals for American newcomer Sidney Leroux.

Leroux's goal in the 81st minute Friday night gave the U.S. women a 2-1 victory over Norway in the Algarve Cup.

Abby Wambach also scored for the Americans, who will now play Japan in their first match since Japan won last year's Women's World Cup. The U.S. needs a win or a tie against the Japanese to earn a spot in the final of the tournament it has won nine times, including the last three.

The Americans had several good chances in the first half, including a shot by Alex Morgan at the near post that Norwegian goalkeeper Caroline Knutsen swatted away.

Wambach finally got the Americans on the board in the 51st off a cross from Heather Mitts to the left side of the penalty box. Wambach controlled the ball with her first touch, then took a shot from 16 yards that banged off the right post and in.

It was Wambach's 133rd international goal, second only to Mia Hamm's 158, and her 17th in Algarve Cup play.

Leroux replaced Morgan in the 77th minute and wasted little time making an impact. Amy Rodriguez, who entered in the 58th minute as a substitute for Heather O'Reilly, collected a 50-yard pass from Rachel Buehler and started down the left side before cutting back inside and floating a cross to the far post. Leroux outjumped a Norwegian defender and scored from 3 yards out on a thunderous header.

The goal turned out to be key, as Elise Thorsnes scored in the final seconds of the game, putting a hard shot by Hope Solo from close range.

NOTES: Japan beat Denmark 2-0 in the other Group B match and is also undefeated. The U.S. has the advantage on goal difference, having scored seven to Japan's four. Both teams have conceded one goal. ... In Group A matches, Germany defeated China 1-0 while Sweden routed Iceland 4-1.

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