Rodriguez scores to lift U.S. women over Brazil

July 13, 2008

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- The United States women's soccer team tuned up for the Olympics with another shutout.

Amy Rodriguez scored in the 71st minute and the U.S. women posted their sixth straight shutout a 1-0 win over Brazil in an exhibition match Sunday.

The U.S. is now 20-0-1 in 2008. The two teams meet again Wednesday in San Diego in their last match before the Olympics start next month in Beijing. The U.S. faces Norway on Aug. 6 in its first Olympic match.

"Any time we go out on the Olympic or national level it's important to us," said Rodriguez, who has five goals in 17 games this year. "Every win counts, and with every game we want to get better so not only is the win important but the overall play and chemistry of the team. We just want to be ready for the Olympics."

The U.S. is still getting familiar with head coach Pia Sundhage's system, and so far the results have been positive. The women have won 10 straight games and haven't been scored upon since a 2-1 win over Australia in South Korea on June 15.

"The way we played in the second half, keeping the ball and possessing it against a great team builds confidence going into the Olympics," captain Christie Rampone said.

It was the first game the women have played in the U.S. since a 6-0 win over Canada in Washington D.C. on May 10. Playing in front of a crowd of 15,071, the U.S. had several chances before breaking through late in the game.

Abby Wambach sent a pass through the box to Rodriguez, and Brazil defender Tania initially blocked the ball. However, the ball squirted between her legs and Rodriguez let go with a blast high that Brazil goalie Andrea could only get her fingertips on for the game's only goal.

"I wasn't expecting that ball to pop through, but fortunately the defender took a bad touch and it was able to sneak by to me and luckily it went in," Rodriguez said.

The U.S. had seven shots on net in the first half but could not score. The women had a flurry early in the game, and in the 36th minute Natasha Kai tried to center a ball in front of a wide-open net, but Brazil defender Andreia Rosa blocked the pass out of bounds.

The American's plan was to be more aggressive in the second half.

"I said at halftime take the chance and keep possession," Sundhage said. "I think we did that in the second half."

Wambach nearly scored her 100th career goal during the two-minute injury time of the first half, but Rosa made a diving stop to keep the game scoreless at halftime.

"She will get her hundredth goal sooner than later," Sundhage said.

The most important item on the U.S. agenda is the Olympic gold, and the women feel they are ready for the Games.

"With training and changing our formation a lot, it's building our confidence every day," Rampone said. "One more game and a little more fine tuning to go, we're almost there. We don't want to peak until we get there."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press