Soccer

Wambach leads U.S. to win over Nigeria, first place finish in group

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Wambach leads U.S. to win over Nigeria, first place finish in group

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Abby Wambach scored late in the first half and the U.S. women's national team went on to beat Nigeria 1-0 on Tuesday night for a first-place finish in its group at the Women's World Cup.

It was Wambach's 14th World Cup goal, pulling her even with Birgit Prinz for second on the all-time list behind Brazil's Marta, who has 15.

Wambach came off the bench for the United States in the team's last match against Sweden. Tuesday, she started up top with Alex Morgan, who was making her first World Cup start in Canada after working her way back from a bone bruise in her left knee.

The United States, ranked second in the world behind Germany, has two World Cup titles, but hasn't won since 1999.

Four years ago in Germany, the U.S. advanced to the final but fell to Japan on penalty kicks.

The win sent the United States through as the leader of its group for the sixth time in seven Women's World Cups. The team heads to Edmonton, Alberta, for the first match of the knockout stage. The opponent has not been determined.

Nigeria, which has won seven of nine African championships, has been to every World Cup since it started for the women in 1991. The Super Falcons were eliminated after the loss to the United States after playing to a 3-all draw with Sweden in the opener and falling 2-0 to Australia.

The U.S. opened Group D with a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Australia, before playing to a 0-0 draw with No. 5 Sweden.

Morgan hadn't started a match since April. The speedy 25-year-old played 12 minutes as a sub in the draw with Sweden.

Wambach also came in as a sub in the match against Sweden last Friday. It was the first time she had played off the bench at a World Cup since her first in 2003.

Wambach, who didn't score in the first two U.S. group stage matches, had never gone without a goal in the opening round in four World Cup appearances.

Julie Johnston had the best chance for the United States early, but her strike in the eighth minute was ruled offside. Minutes later, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo dove to stop Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala's attempt.

Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede had to punch Megan Rapinoe's long 25-foot blast in the 17th minute. Johnston battled to catch Oshoala on a fast break, sliding to deflect the ball as Solo charged.

Wambach finally put the United States ahead just before the end of the half when she rushed in on a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe and volleyed the ball into the goal at the far post.

Dede stopped a shot from an onrushing Morgan to open the second half.

A scary moment came when Wambach and Josephine Chukwunoye appeared to bump heads. Wambach got up quickly, but Chukwunoye -- who got a yellow card on the play -- was helped off but returned a few moments later.

Sydney Leroux, who grew up in the Vancouver area, replaced Morgan in the 65th minute. Leroux, who has an American father, left Canada as a teenager to pursue her goal of playing for the United States.

Nigeria, which was physical all game, was hurt when Sarah Nnodim was sent off with her second yellow of the night for a tackle on Leroux in the 69th minute. That put Nigeria at 10 players for the rest of the match.

Morgan, who has 51 goals in 84 international appearances, had not started in a match since April 11, the season opener for the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League. Her last start for the United States came in a 4-0 victory over New Zealand in St. Louis, Missouri.

She wore pink tape on her knee during the match.

MORE WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: Two of D.C.'s brightest stars show their support for U.S. women's soccer 

Australian Taste Test: Washington Spirit Aussies serve up Vegemite

Australian Taste Test: Washington Spirit Aussies serve up Vegemite

Washington Spirit Aussies Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison have NBC Sports Washington’s Anna Witte try Australian staples Vegemite and Bundaberg ginger beer.

According to Logarzo, before each game with the Australian National team, all of the players would eat vegemite on toast with poached eggs and avocado. 

Witte rated the Vegemite a four out of ten, her immediate response was that it tastes "Super salty."

"Not awful, but I don't think I would buy it for myself....it's awful."

Both Logarzo and Harrison joined the Spirit this season. Harrison has appeared in ten games for the Australian national team and Logarzo has appeared in 37. 

After two straight wins the Washington Spirit are looking to continue their winning streak this weekend against the Chicago Red Stars.

Washington will face off against Chicago at the SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois on Sunday, March 26 at 6 p.m.

In the NWSL standings, the Red Stars are in first place with a 3-1-2 record and the Spirit are in fourth with a 3-1-1 record. In 2018, Chicago took the series over Washington with two wins and a draw.

Despite missing U.S. National players Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh, the Spirit defeated Portland Thorns FC last weekend 3-1. 

Amy Harrison scored the first goal during the 16th minute followed by Portland scoring on their own goal in the 47th minute to put Washington ahead 2-0. Finally, in the 71st minute, Jordan Diabasi scored an olimpico. 

Spirit Midfielder Jordan DiBiasi won the NWSL Goal of the Week for her goal against the Portland Thorns last weekend. 

Spirit Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe continues to lead the NWSL with 19 saves. 

 

 

 

Washington Spirit and Australian national players try American treats for first time

Washington Spirit and Australian national players try American treats for first time

Washington Spirit and Australian national players Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison sat down with NBC Sports Washington to taste test a few American favorites and rate the treats. For the first time ever, Aussies Logarzo and Harrison each tried a Twinkie and took a sip of Coke.  

For Harrison, the initial comment after taking a bite was disgust, "Ew."  

However, Logarzo gave the twinkie a 10 out of 10, "if I was seven years old." 

Both players enjoyed the Coke and had tasted it before. 

The Washington Spirit are returning home to their stomping grounds to host Portland Thorns FC at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 17.

Both the Spirit and Thorns are coming off wins from last weekend, with the Spirit defeating Sky Blue FC 3-2 and the Thorns beating the Orlando Pride 3-1. This weekend is a chance for both teams to move up in the NWSL standings. The Spirit currently sits in 6th place (2-1-1), just one spot behind the Thorns in 5th place (2-0-2).

If the Spirit secure a win against the Thorns they could move up as high as second place in the NWSL table, their highest ranking since 2016.

Both the Spirit and the Thorns will be missing a few contributors to their rosters who are currently preparing with the U.S. Women’s National team for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Spirit forward Mallory Pugh and midfielder Rose Lavelle will be absent and Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, midfielders Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan, forward Christine Sinclair and defender Emily Sonnett will be absent as well.

This has been a big week for the Spirit. Both defender Cheyna Matthews and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe received accolades for their contributions in the league.

During the 22nd and 68th minutes of last weeks game against Sky Blue FC, Matthews scored to put Washington ahead. Matthews was nominated for the NWSL’s week five Goal of the Week.

In addition, Bledsoe was named the Westfield W-League’s goalkeeper of the year after helping Sydney FC claim the 2019 W-League title. Bledsoe is only the third American goalkeeper to receive this award.

Spirit vs. Thorns FC takes place at the Maryland SoccerPlex, on the team's first annual Armed Forces Night. The Spirit will show appreciation to veterans and active duty service members at halftime and provide discounted priced tickets to the game.