Featured / Independence

Independence well represented on US national squads

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The Philadelphia Independence started their preseason on Tuesday at United Sports in Downingtown. “There are different expectations this year,” Independence coach Paul Riley said. “Last season we were expected to finish seventh as an expansion franchise, and we made it to the title game. We have a target on our backs. I think we have a deep roster with plenty of talent to give.”

Just how deep that roster is becomes apparent when you consider the absence of six players from the first day of training: top draft picks Sinead Farrelly and Lauren Fowlkes, as well as recent signings Nicole Barnhart and Megan Rapinoe, not to mention returning veterans Lori Lindsey and Amy Rodriguez.

Have no fear, Independence fans, all is well within the team.

All of them were on national team duty with the US. (New signing Veronica Boquete was with the Spanish national team although fellow new signing and Spanish international Laura del Rio was in camp. Icelandic international Holmfridur Magnusdottir and England international Lianne Sanderson were also in camp.)

Farrelly and Fowlkes with US Women’s U-23 team in Spain

Farrelly and Fowlkes were with the US Women’s U-23 team in Spain for the Four Nations Tournament, which also included England, Norway and Sweden. In the 4–2 win over Sweden in the opening game last Friday, Farrelly registered 75 minutes and assisted the final goal for the US while Fowlkes played the full 90 minutes. In the 1–1 draw with England, Farrelly, who played 57 minutes, again registered an assist when her shot on goal was deflected by the keeper to teammate Sarah Hagen, who promptly finished. Fowlkes went the full 90 in that match as well, just as she did in the 3–2 come-from-behind win after being two goals down against Norway on Wednesday that gave the US the tournament championship. Havertown-native Farrelly was an unused substitute for that game.

Rodriguez puts the US in the World Cup. (Photo: Courtesy US Soccer)

Barnhart, Lindsey, Rapinoe and Rodriguez with the USWNT

The senior US Women’s team has had its struggles of late. A shock loss to Mexico turned what began as a a sure thing qualification campaign for the 2011 Women’s World Cup into a must win match for third place against Costa Rica and then a home-and-away series against Italy between the third place CONCACAF team and the fifth place UEFA team for a spot in Germany. Lori Lindsey’s two assists in the final CONCACAF match against Costa Rica—coach Pia Sundhage called Lindsey the “missing piece” in the US’s attack— proved instrumental in the team’s 3–0 win. After a dramatic 1–0 win in stoppage time against Italy away, Amy Rodriguez’s goal 1–0 win in the return leg proved to be the insurance needed to book a trip to the World Cup.

At the Four Nations Cup hosted by China in January, Barnhart was the US keeper for all three matches and Lindsey, Rapinoe and Rodriguez each saw significant playing time. A rough start against Sweden resulted in a 2–1 loss, followed by a 2–1 win over Canada. In the final match against China, Rodriguez registered a goal and an assist to give the US a 2–0 win and the tournament title.

At the Algarve Cup

The US Women are now in Portugal for the Algarve Cup, and the Independence players are continuing contribute as the team prepares for the World Cup.

The team had its first match on Wednesday, a 2–1 win over fifth in the world Japan. Starting keeper Barnhart delivered a free kick in the 7th minute to the top of the box that Lauren Cheney flicked forward with her head to Rodriguez. Rodriguez collected the ball with her back to goal then turned to deliver a booming left-footed shot into the back of the net. (The original tweet from US Soccer incorrectly said that Barnhart had assisted the goal. See the video below.)

Eleven minutes later, Rapinoe one-timed a low cross from Heather O’Reilly to make it two for the US. (See the video below)

Eleven minutes after that, Japan got a goal back with a free kick that was by all accounts unstoppable.

Lindsey came on in the 71st minute to help the US secure the win.

On Friday, the US will face Norway. For a time, Norway was the only country in the world with a winning record against the US. But a ten-game winning streak, ended at the 2008 Olympics, has given the US the edge. Still, no team has defeated the US more than Norway, at the Algarve Cup or elsewhere.

Have no doubt, Barnhart, Lindsey, Rapinoe and Rodriguez will be working hard to make sure the US once again prevails as they prepare for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, back in Downingtown, the rest of the Independence will be continuing the hard work that is the beginning of—fingers crossed—a successful championship campaign for 2011.

Rodriguez scores the first US goal of the 2011 Algarve Cup
Rapinoe scores the second goal of the 2011 Algarve Cup

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *