U.S. women make Wambach winner in her 200th match
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Coach Tom Sermanni told Abby Wambach she wasn't coming out against Scotland until she scored.
After all, you need a little something special to mark a milestone.
Wambach scored on a diving header in the 51st minute, and the U.S. women's soccer team beat Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday night to give Wambach a victory in her 200th international match.
"It's great," Sermanni said about Wambach's latest career mark. "I mean what a career and still continuing. Every game that Abby plays she either scores or she's in the mix and creates so many chances and opportunities that stuff happens for other players. I think it's a great way for her to celebrate her 200th game."
Wambach became the eighth American to play at least 200 games for the national team, and she served as captain for the game in honor of the milestone. Her teammates kept trying to set up the 2012 FIFA player of the year, and Wambach finally converted when Sydney Leroux passed to Wambach just in front for her 153rd career goal and 63rd on a header.
For Wambach, that pass was only fitting since it came from Leroux, her roommate and a teammate she has watched grow up on the women's national team.
"I think it might've been a little offsides to be honest that goal," Wambach said. "I'm not complaining."
Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press also scored as the Americans gave Sermanni his second victory in five days against his native Scotland. Sermanni coached Australia the past eight years, leading the Matildas to the quarterfinals of the last two Women's World Cups.
The U.S. women's national team set an attendance mark in the state of Tennessee with 14,224 turning out on a cold night when the temperature was 40 degrees at the start at LP Field, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. That topped the 13,081 who turned out in 1997 in Chattanooga for a 3-1 win over Sweden.
"Playing in a big stadium like this, it can feel big if the crowd isn't into it," Rapinoe said. "But this crowd was great. I think it got behind us, and obviously getting a goal in the first half was big. Gave them something to cheer about. Rowdy enough for me."
Rapinoe did not play in Saturday's 4-1 win over Scotland in Jacksonville after joining the team late due to her commitment playing in Lyon, France. She made up for her absence by putting the Americans up 1-0 when she scored at the end of the 21st minute from 15 yards.
Scotland started the game going with just one forward in Jane Ross with five defenders after giving up four goals to the Americans in Jacksonville. The Scots kept the play in front of keeper Hope Solo for the opening minutes. The Americans didn't get their first chance to score until the 10th minute only to have Sydney Leroux's cross broken up in the box.
Wambach came into the match only six goals in international competition behind Mia Hamm's 158 among the career scorers for the U.S. She worked hard trying to get her 153rd.
Fay caught a header from Wambach in the 14th minute. Heather O'Reilly passed twice to Wambach in front of the goal in about a 60-second span starting in the 39th minute. Fay grabbed the ball on Wambach's header on the first, and the Americans couldn't connect on the second.
Scotland substituted Shannon Lynn for Fay in the second half, and Lynn had a kick save on a shot by Leroux after Wambach's goal.
Wambach pointed out some of the Americans are trying to work the rust off following their few weeks off after the national team's victory tour following their Olympic gold medal. She said they didn't really train much during that tour, flying in and out of cities for games. Now they're busy trying to get back into the flow while learning what Sermanni wants from them.
"I think my timing's a little off to be honest," Wambach said. "I'm still kind of reacting rather than anticipating, and you know as a forward, that's the No. 1 killer."
Wambach went to the bench in the 61st minute, waving her hand to the fans who gave her a big ovation. Sermanni replaced her with Press, who scored two goals and assisted on a third in the Americans' first game with Scotland. She scored in the 64th minute from 12 yards out, taking a pass from Shannon Boxx and patiently beating Lynn who came out trying to stop her.
"This is the first time she's had a chance in the national team," Wambach said. "Two games, three goals, one assist? Not a bad showing if you ask me."
Scotland avoided the shutout when Suzanne Grant redirected Emma Mitchell's cross past Solo in the 81st minute.
The Americans will next play March 6 in Portugal in the Algarve Cup.