She was good on the ball, she was dangerous, and if you look at the crosses and set plays, for her she has a good game when she makes the right decisions in the flow of the game. —U.S. coach Pia Sundhage
SANDY — In the build up to Saturday's match at Rio Tinto Stadium, U.S. coach Pia Sundhage praised Megan Rapinoe and said she has the potential to be one of the best players in the world.
That was pretty obvious throughout the United States' send-off match against Canada.
In a dominant performance in the midfield, both from the right and left side, Rapinoe set up both goals and was named the woman of the match afterward.
With better finishing in the box, the United States easily could have scored five or six goals thanks to Rapinoe's crosses.
"It's all about decision making for her. She was good on the ball, she was dangerous, and if you look at the crosses and set plays, for her she has a good game when she makes the right decisions in the flow of the game," said Sundhage. "If she's too eager and tries to be too fancy, she's average. Today I think she was splendid."
Strangely, and despite a formation that included an extra midfielder, Canada never really adjusted to deal with the Rapinoe threat out wide.
"I was able to find quite a bit of space in the first half. I tried to stay out wide to occupy that space and get crosses in," said Rapinoe, who admitted she was surprised Canada didn't close her down quicker.
That was just fine with Rapinoe, who said the overall performance was good, but better finishing will be necessary at the Olympics.
"We feel pretty good. We want to play a little bit better, possess a little bit better. I think we had a lot of chances. We need to put those away in London. We had fun out there," said Rapinoe.
PAYING TRIBUTE: Two years ago, when the U.S. women beat Mexico 1-0 in a snow storm at Rio Tinto Stadium, Abby Wambach celebrated her goal by doing snow angels with teammates on the field.
When Amy Rodriguez scored the game-winner in the 85th minute on Saturday, about seven or eight of the players celebrated with more snow angels — minus the snow of course.
"We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who came to watch us play in the snow. Salt Lake City fans are special, they get the game, they showed up today. That was our celebration with them to show them how much we care about them coming to support us," said Wambach.
A BRIEF SCARE: American striker Alex Morgan gave fans a scare early in the second half when she went down holding her knee.Comment on this story
Sundhage said it was just a knock to the knee and that she'd be fine. At the Olympics, she might have been able to play through the pain, but there was no need to risk anything in a send-off match.
"The send-off game you don't want to take any risks, so we just made the decision right there when she was on the ground," said Sundhage.
Wambach was glad to see the decision made so quickly.
"Just get her off the field, let's go to London," she said.
SCORCHER IN SANDY: As expected, it was a hot afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium..
Rapinoe summed up playing in the heat best. "I felt like I had a fireball in my throat," she said.