By Wire Service
The U.S. Women's National Team defeated China PR 4-1 in front of 10,493 fans at Florida Atlantic University Stadium to cap off the 10-game 2012 Fan Tribute Tour, presented by Panasonic.
Abby Wambach scored her 151st and 152nd career goals, Megan Rapinoe tallied an unassisted game-winner from 40 yards out and Sydney Leroux scored her record 14th goal off the bench as the 2012 London Olympic gold medalists finished the year with a 28-1-3 record.
U.S. defender and team captain Christie Rampone earned her 276th career cap on the night to move into sole possession of second place all-time, moving ahead of Mia Hamm (275 caps from 1987-2004) and behind only Kristine Lilly who had 352 caps from 1987-2010.
The match marked the final game for U.S. interim head coach Jill Ellis, who compiled a 5-0-2 record in the final seven games of the Fan Tribute Tour. New head coach Tom Sermanni officially begins his tenure on Jan. 1, 2013. The U.S. WNT will take a much-deserved break over the holiday season and start its 2013 schedule on Feb. 9 against Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla.
Wambach finished the year with 27 goals, the second most for her in a calendar year. Combined with Alex Morgan's 28 goals, the two forwards tied a U.S. WNT record for most combined goals scored by two players in a calendar year, equaling the mark of 55 goals set by Michelle Akers (39 goals) and Carin Jennings (16 goals) in 1991.
The USA got on the board in the 18th minute after left back Kelley O'Hara took a throw-in on the left sideline in the attacking third. Megan Rapinoe touched the ball back to O'Hara, who flicked it into the box to Morgan. The forward fended off a couple of China defenders before looping a short, but high cross with the outside of her left foot toward Wambach. As she had done 61 times previously, Wambach scored with her head, placing her lunging six-yard shot perfectly just inside the left post.
The USA pushed the lead to 2-0 in the 36th minute when Rapinoe scored opportunistically and spectacularly from long distance. Carli Lloyd and Heather O'Reilly put some intense pressure on the Chinese back line and forced a hurried clearance from Chinese goalkeeper Wang Fei, who was already about 30 yards off her line. The ball rolled straight to Rapinoe just outside the center circle and she launched her shot from 40-yards out into the open net on one bounce. It was Rapinoe's eighth goal of the year and 19th of her career.
China pulled a goal back just seconds before halftime when Han Peng eluded U.S. right back Amy LePeilbet with a tremendous dribbling move in the left side of the penalty area and struck a left-footed shot the skipped into the lower right corner of the goal. It was China's only goal over the three matches that ended the Fan Tribute Tour and came on just one of its two shots on goal. The USA out-scored China 10-1 over the three games.
China's goal put to end a 409-minute shutout streak by the USA defense, which had previously not allowed a goal since a 2-2 draw against Germany on Oct. 23.
The U.S. regained a two-goal lead in the 64th minute as Rapinoe sent in one of her trademark bending crosses from the left wing that settled perfectly onto Wambach's head. Wambach muscled her way between two China defenders for the header that clanged off the right post and bounced just over crossed the goal line. It was the 63rd header goal of her career.
With just three minutes left, second-half sub Leroux put a cap on a remarkable year, scoring her 14th goal of 2012, all of them coming off the bench. The USA's youngest player set a team record for most goals as a reserve in a single year. The goal came when Lloyd played a nice ball down the right wing to Tobin Heath, who then played a pass back to defender Heather Mitts who chipped a cross in from the right side of the box. Leroux cut in front of a defender to power home her header from close range and into the lower right corner.