FARO, Portugal — When the U.S. women get rolling, watch out.
Abby Wambach got her 154th goal, leaving her four shy of Mia Hamm’s all-time record, and Rachel Buehler scored in her 100th appearance as the Americans rebounded from a sluggish first half to beat Iceland 3-0 Wednesday in the opener of the Algarve Cup.
The Americans struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, and needed a diving save by Vineland, N.J., native Jill Loyden on a header inside the penalty area to avoid falling behind in the 19th minute. But the top-ranked Americans were more assertive in the second half, and it quickly paid off.
Loyden was making her third U.S. National Team appearance and earned the shutout.
"Anytime you can play and get on the field and get some minutes, it’s a great opportunity to have fun and smile out there and I get to play behind some awesome teammates," Loyden said in quotes on the U.S. National Team's website. "We had fun out there and it showed. We got the shutout.
"When I really don’t have to do too much, that’s always a great game for us. Credit to the defense for doing their job and making my life easy."
Shannon Boxx also scored for the Olympic champions, who got all three goals and 12 of their 18 shots in the second half.
“The second half was a lot better. We got the rust off and started knocking some passes," Loyden said. "We were looking good and playing some sexy soccer."
The U.S. will play Friday against China, which drew 1-1 with Sweden on Wednesday in the other Group B game. In Group A, Norway beat Japan 2-0 and Denmark and Germany tied 0-0. In Group C, host Portugal beat Wales 2-0 and Mexico beat Hungary 1-0.
Just three minutes into the half, Buehler headed a corner kick by Lauren Cheney into the left corner of the net. It was only the fourth career goal for the defender, who was wearing the captain’s armband in honor of her 100th appearance. Boxx doubled the lead in the 62nd minute when she headed in Christie Rampone’s cross from 6 yards out.
Wambach closed out the scoring with a tap-in goal in the 74th minute. Alex Morgan beat Iceland goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir to a pass on the left side of the penalty area, then poked the ball past Helgadottir to Wambach, who was alone in front of the net.
The 2012 FIFA Player of the Year needs four goals to match the international scoring mark set by Hamm from 1987-2004.