FARO, Portugal – After needing to win two playoffs to reach the World Cup, the U.S. women's team can leave the Algarve Cup with some much-needed confidence.
Lauren Cheney tied the score in first-half stoppage time with a 6-yard volley, Heather O'Reilly got the go-ahead goal in the 55th and the Americans beat Iceland 4-2 Wednesday night for their eighth Algarve Cup title.
"It couldn't have been any better," defender Christine Rampone said. "We were struggling. We all know that."
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.
"We've still got three months preparation, and we're looking good and the confidence is building and that's what you need leading into the World Cup," Rampone said.
Carli Lloyd put the U.S. ahead in the 10th minute on a 20-yard left-footed shot, but Iceland took a 2-1 lead on goals in a three-minute span. Katrin Omarsdottir scored from 10 yards on rebound after Nicole Barnhart saved her initial shot, and Hallbera Gisladottir put Iceland ahead on a bending right-footed shot from 16 yards.
American coach Pia Sundhage wasn't happy about Iceland's goals.
"We won all games and we've been playing well, but you have 25 minutes here, and 30 minutes there," she said. "Now, we feel like we're starting to get connected and find the starting lineup."
O'Reilly tapped in a rebound from 3 yards after Amy Rodriguez allowed Abby Wambach's pass to roll through her legs and Shannon Boxx's one-time shot was knocked down by goalkeeper Gudbjorg Gunnarsdottir.
After the U.S. built a 3-2 lead, Alex Morgan scored her third goal of the tournament in the 87th with a 9-yard shot after second-half sub Abby Wambach won a header. Morgan has seven goals in 15 international appearances.
"It's the last time we are going to be in a tournament-like situation where we can prepare for a World Cup event. You can't mimic or create that environment," Wambach said. "The preparation is so important, and I'm excited to see what is going to happen in the next couple months because we've got a great team and we're putting things together and it feels really good."
Morgan won the best goal scorer award — she tied for the lead but had the fewest minutes played.
"It's fun," she said. "I get a week's vacation here, so that's nice."