A sellout crowd of 27,000 showed up to the StubHub Center in Carson, CA and the nearly entirely pro-United States crowd got a treat. Well, in the second half at least.
After a rough first 45 minutes, the U.S. turned a great second half and cruised to a 5-1 win over Mexico. Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach led the way with two goals apiece in a match that could have seen the U.S. score eight or nine goals as the Americans creep ever closer to readiness for next month's World Cup.
The Americans were all over Mexico from the start, but they were sloppy in front of goal, both passing and finishing. They took too many touches in the box and their passes were too often behind their intended targets. When they did get shots away, they fired right at the goalkeeper, over the net or had them cleared away by defenders on the line. It was abundantly clear the U.S. was the better team, but that doesn't mean they were especially good.
After 28 minutes of frustration, the U.S. finally broke through. Leroux got in behind the Mexico defense, rounded the goalkeeper, then tucked her shot just inside the post from a tight angle to put the Americans in front.
The goal didn't change much. The Americans kept pressing and kept nearly scoring, but they didn't do themselves many favors in front of goal. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Mexico scored. Hope Solo was late off of her line on a set piece and was nowhere near the ball when Mexico nodded the ball into the empty net.
The match went into halftime at 1-1. The U.S. had been better, but not good and needed to change that in the second 45 minutes. They did, and in a big way.
It took all of 23 seconds for Lori Chalupny to put the Americans back in front. The U.S. scored right after the kickoff with a nice move that left Chalupny with a relatively easy finish.
Before the hour-mark, the U.S. had scored again. This time it was off of pure fortune as a Mexico defender tried to clear a ball and instead hit it off of her own arm for a penalty. Wambach buried the spot kick and the U.S. were 3-1 up.
The match was well in hand at 3-1, but the Americans didn't stop. Leroux ran behind the Mexico defense again for her second tally of the night, then Tobin Heath undressed a defender with a brilliant bit of footwork before crossing for Wambach to nod home. With those two goals, the U.S. had themselves a 5-1 lead that they would see out for a comfortable win.
The U.S. still isn't ready for the World Cup. They have a lot of work to do, but they were better in the second half than they have been in a while and are clearly going in the right direction. Now they go onto Red Bull Arena for a clash with South Korea in their final match before the World Cup. With the tournament creeping up, the U.S. needs to keep getting better and, at least in the second half, it looked like they're doing just that.