Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

U.S. women defeat France at Raymond James Stadium

TAMPA — The U.S. women's national team continued its dominance at home, coach Jill Ellis got her first win since shedding her interim tag, and goalie Hope Solo entered the record books Saturday night in a 1-0 victory over France at Raymond James Stadium in front of an announced 9,799, the largest crowd ever to watch the team in Tampa.

With the shutout, Solo tied Briana Scurry (71) for most clean sheets in U.S. history. Solo, largely untested most of the game, saved both shots on goal she faced.

"I'm sure I'm going to hit a wall (emotionally) when I get showered and back to the hotel," Solo said. "It's an amazing moment that goes down in history. That's going to go down as a very memorable game."

Forward Sydney Leroux scored the lone goal, her team-high seventh this year, in the first half.

Ellis took over the reigns from Tom Sermanni in May. She had twice been the interim coach and improved her overall record to 7-0-3.

"It feels great because we just played a tremendous opponent," Ellis said. "Really enjoyed playing in front of this crowd."

In its sixth appearance in Tampa, the U.S. team ran its home unbeaten streak to 83, a team record. The win was its fourth in the past five matches and first since a 1-1 tie against Canada on May 8. The Yanks, who face France in another exhibition June 19 in Connecticut, are 7-2-2 on the year as they continue to prepare for October's CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

"I thought we defended very well," Ellis said. "And that's as big as we've been in our attacking shape."

The Americans got on the board in the 21st minute. Leroux played a ball into Christen Press and her return chip found Leroux's feet just outside the 6-yard box. Leroux fought off a defender, muscling past her and nutmegging France keeper Sarah Bouhaddi for a 1-0 U.S. lead.

"It was kind of a ball over the top by Press and it was bouncing in the box, and I just put my body through it," Leroux said. "I got it on my left foot and just slotted it."

France's offense was spotty. The Blues' best chance was in the 30th minute. Eugenie Le Sommer played a ball around defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Le Sommer got off a right-footed shot, but it banged off the upright and caromed out of bounds.

"I've got to take my hat off to my defenders tonight," Solo said. "They were awesome."

The match also saw the national team return of star striker Alex Morgan, who missed seven months with a stress reaction in her left ankle. Morgan, who last played for the team on Nov. 10, 2013, came on as a sub in the 49th minute Saturday. "It's been a long time, definitely," she said. "I feel like I need to get used to the speed and get my fitness back, but overall a good night."

U.S. forward and former Florida standout Abby Wambach, who has a world record 167 international goals, was out with a left knee injury. She is day to day.

The game was delayed because of a thunderstorm about 30 minutes before the scheduled 7:30 start.

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