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Oct 23, 2012

U.S., Germany play to second straight tie

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Abby Wambach doesn't like ties, especially after helping lead the United States to 14 consecutive wins and an Olympic gold medal.

Wambach scored her 23rd goal of the year on Tuesday, but was less than happy after the Americans had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Germany, the second tie between the world's top two teams in four days.

"The truth is this is totally a victory tour," she said. "It's not necessarily about the outcome, but it's way more fun when you win."

Dzenifer Marozsan scored twice for the Germans, including the equalizer in the 85th minute.

That came after Tobin Heath gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead in the 67th minute on an assist from Alex Morgan, who had two in the match. Goalkeeper Hope Solo made six saves for the Americans, who are on a celebration tour after their Olympic victory.

The Germans had ended the 14-match winning streak for the Americans with a 1-1 draw in Chicago on Saturday. The U.S. never trailed on Tuesday night, but never seemed in control, either. Germany outshot the U.S., 16-8.

They tied the match when Marozsan took a pass from Linda Bresonik, dribbled and beat Hope Solo from about 22 yards.

The teams played in a steady rain Tuesday and remained scoreless into the 44th minute. That's when Megan Rapinoe made a run down the left sideline and found Morgan who put a beautiful crossing pass into the box. Germany's Annike Krahn got a foot on the ball, but not enough to redirect the pass and Wambach was waiting to head it down and into the goal.

Marozsan came into the game in the second half and quickly evened things up. U.S. captain Christie Rampone slipped on the wet grass at midfield, giving Marozsan a clear run down the center of the field, where she ran onto Solo and put it past her in the 48th minute.

"I think both teams kind of came after it in the second half, made some subs and I think the tempo increased," said Jill Ellis, the interim USA coach.

Wambach had a chance to break the tie in the 59th minute when German defender Luisa Wensing slipped down, but her attempt to lob the ball over the charging goaltender didn't get high enough and Nadine Angerer came down with the save.

"That one on one with the keeper, I want back," she said. "If I put that down, we win."

Solo made two great saves in the 65th and 66th minutes on shots from Anja Mittag and Marozsan. The second led to an American attack that ended when Morgan made a beautiful sliding pass from the goal line back in front where Wambach whiffed on a shot, but Heath was waiting behind her and put the ball into the net.

Solo made another save in the 72nd minute on a shot from Marozsan from nearly point-blank range.

The U.S. dodged an early bullet less than 3 minutes into the match when Kelley O'Hara was called for a foul just outside the 18-yard box, but Alexandra Popp's free kick from straight on sailed over the goal.

It was the second game the U.S. has played since former coach Pia Sundhage left the team she led to the gold medal at the London Olympics.

The Americans are now 17-4-6 against the Germans, the only other team to win two World Cups or be ranked No. 1. The Americans were, who haven't lost since a 1-0 setback to Japan on March 5, are 6-0-4 in matches involving the world's top two teams.

"For us, this isn't necessarily about the result on the field," Wambach said. "This is about sharing the gold medal, sharing this team with all the people in the stands."

Sundhage stepped down in September after five years as coach and is now coaching her native Sweden's national team. She had led the U.S. to back-to-back Olympic titles, as well as their first World Cup final in 12 years. She finished with a 91-6-10 record, including 23-1-1 this year alone.

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said this month that he hoped to select the new coach by next month, though it's possible the new coach might not start until January -- especially if the coach is involved in an NCAA tournament.

"Pia was great for us, she was a really good motivator, she managed the team really well," said Morgan. "So going forward, we're looking for someone to go above and beyond. Just someone who brings everyone together, brings everyone in on the same page and prepares us for the World Cup."

The U.S. team had been on a break since beating Australia on Sept. 19 in the third game of their post-Olympic victory tour. They got back together Thursday to begin preparations for Germany.

Germany, meanwhile, is in prime form as it gets ready for next year's European championships.

"The fitness level of this team is pretty transparent in my opinion," Wambach said. "We haven't been training as much. But we can't. People think we can be a full year-round team. But that's just impossible. We have to decondition in order to start preparing for the World Cup come January."

Wambach's goal was the 148th of her career.

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