Hope Solo extended her shutout record to 73, and Amy Rodriguez of FC Kansas City, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe scored to help the U.S. women’s soccer team beat Mexico 4-0 in an exhibition game Thursday night in chilly conditions.
Hometown hero Abby Wambach played the second half in the Americans’ final exhibition game before World Cup qualifying. The crowd started chanting “We Want Abby! We Want Abby!” in the 30th minute, and the Rochester native took the field after halftime. The entrance to Sahlen’s Stadium was renamed “Wambach Way” in 2012.
Wambach said she understood not being in head coach Jill Ellis’ starting lineup.
“I know that Jill has decisions that she needs to make so, no matter where we play, I trust the decisions that she makes,” Wambach said. “The depth of this team is one of our strengths. If I get a call to start a game I’m ready and willing and able. If I have to come off the bench, I’m ready and willing and able.”
The United States also beat Mexico 8-0 on Saturday night in Utah, with Solo breaking a tie with Briana Scurry for the U.S. shutout record. The Americans are 29-1-1 against Mexico and extended their home winning streak to 86.
“Tonight we could’ve finished a few more chances, but maybe on a different surface it goes in,” Wambach said.
Artificial turf has been a source of consternation for women’s players ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Canada, with the U.S. players threatening legal action if they are forced to play on turf instead of natural grass.
“FIFA is probably trying to stall a little bit at this point to hopefully make this issue go away,” Wambach said. “They think that we’re probably not very serious but we are, we’re ready to go to litigation.”
Rodriguez opened the scoring in the ninth minute, darting to pick up a poor back pass and chipping goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago. Rapinoe scored in the 37th minute with a left-footed strike that deflected past Santiago. In the 44th, Tobin Heath took Rodriguez’s pass and beat Santiago.
“Out of these two games we came away with two really crucial wins against a team that in CONCACAF we will face,” Rodriguez said. “It’s important for us to send a message now that we are ready for qualifiers and we’re going to take care of business.”
Carli Lloyd nearly made it a four-goal lead before halftime, but her flick bounded off the inside of the goal post before being cleared.
Morgan completed the scoring in the second half with a late header.
The variety of scorers will prove to be a major challenge for Ellis in paring down her attack.
“Five different players the first game, four here, we’re dangerous when we get in transition,” Ellis said. “It’s hard to focus on one player.”
“Any team would love to have several different goal scorers,” she said. “That’s crucial and shows how dynamic and dangerous we are at several positions on the field.”
And Wambach knows even she isn’t guaranteed a spot.
“It’s not going to be easy to make this team,” she said. “The depth of this team is one of our strengths.”