VILA REAL de SAN ANTONIO, Portugal – Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe scored first-half goals and Abby Wambach returned from a heel injury as the United States defeated Japan 2-1 Tuesday in its opener at the Algarve Cup.
"It was a good start and in the first 45 minutes we played some very good soccer," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "Heather O'Reilly had a good game, and we looked dangerous at times. We played some good one-touch soccer and got some good rhythm against a very good team in Japan."
Rodriguez scored her 15th international goal in the seventh minute, a left-footed shot that beat goalkeeper Miho Fukimoto. Rodriguez's shot from the top of the penalty area came after goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart's free kick was headed on to her by Lauren Cheney, and Rodriguez spun to lose a defender.
Rapinoe doubled the lead in the 18th from 7 yards off a cross from O'Reilly, Rapinoe's ninth international goal.
Aya Miyama, a veterans of the Los Angeles Sol and the St. Louis Athletica in WPS, scored in the 29th with a free kick after O'Reilly fouled Yuki Nagasato just outside the penalty area. Miyama's kick went off the crossbar and down, just over the goal line.
Wambach, sidelined because of a heel injury since the Nov. 27 World Cup qualifier against Italy, entered at the start of the second half — just her sixth appearance as a substitute since the 2004 Olympics.
The Americans play Norway on Friday in their second Group A game, then face Finland on Monday. The championship is March 9.
At the World Cup in Germany, the Americans open against North Korea on June 28, then play Colombia on July 2 and Sweden on July 6.