Japan prevented the United States women from reaching the final of the Algarve Cup last year, but they reclaimed the title on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Germany. The USWNT turned in their best performance against a top opponent since Tom Sermanni took over as head coach, keeping a clean sheet despite dealing with a number of dangerous counter-attacks from the Germans.
Alex Morgan scored both goals, capitalizing on defensive errors. Germany failed to clear after Sydney Leroux won a header in the 13th minute, and Morgan capitalized on the botched clearance with a fantastic finish. She made the Germans pay for another error in the 34th minute, rounding Almuth Schult after she came off her line too quickly to claim a backpass, and Morgan had no problem getting around her, then finishing calmly.
Germany threatened the United States goal repeatedly in the second half, but never scored. Their best chance came in the 60th minute, when Nicole Barnhart was forced into two saves in quick succession. Their third attempt at goal was cut out by Crystal Dunn, who came in as a second half defensive substitute. Morgan narrowly missed out on a hat trick in the second half as well, hitting the crossbar off a long ball from Whitney Engen.
- Tom Sermanni has the defense playing better. Whitney Engen and Rachel Buehler looked like a great pair, and there was no drop-off from Hope Solo to Nicole Barnhart.
- The forward pair of Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan worked well together, though it's probably not time to put Leroux in the starting XI over Abby Wambach quite yet.
- Christen Press had another solid game and is going to challenge for regular time going forward.
- Shannon Boxx and Yael Averbuch were both solid, but they (and the midfield as a whole) looks like they need some more time together.
- Tobin Heath was a late addition to the lineup, replacing Megan Rapinoe. She didn't do enough to displace Rapinoe in the starting XI going forward, for me. She had one moment in particular when she had a chance to play Leroux one-on-one with the keeper in the second half with a through ball that didn't look too tough to execute, and she underhit it pretty badly. Theoretically, her ability to make those kind of passes are what she offers over Rapinoe.
- All of the new players that Sermanni has introduced look like they'll be sticking around for a while. Averbuch, Dunn, Kristie Mewes, Whitney Engen and occasional contributor under Pia Sundhage, Becky Sauerbrunn, all looked like they belong at this level.