ALTHOUGH her side lost 3-1 at Nashville’s LP Field, Scotland striker Suzanne Grant will cherish the memory of her 100th international game. After coming on as a substitute she scored the last goal and later swapped shirts with America’s Abby Wambach – who also found the net in her 200th appearance for the hosts.
Wambach is now on 153 international goals, just five short of the world record set by her former team-mate Mia Hamm, but containing the prolific scorer to just one goal over the two games of their US trip is a measure of how much the Scots have improved in recent years.
On the only previous occasion the sides met, in Ohio in 2002, the Americans won 8-2 with Wambach and Hamm both notching hat-tricks. Despite the huge disparity in status – the hosts are full-time professionals while most of the Scotland squad are amateurs – the aggregate score over the two games was just 7-2, with the Americans having won the first game 4-1 in Jacksonville.
Both scorelines compare favourably with many of those racked up by the Americans in 2012, when they won 28 of their 32 games and lost only one, to World Cup holders Japan.
The matches in Florida and Nashville were watched by almost 35,000 fans, an astonishing number for pre-season friendlies. At LP Field, Megan Rapinoe, who plays for Champions League holders Lyon, Wambach and Christen Press scored the US goals before Grant, who came on for Jo Love, volleyed home an Emma Mitchell cross.
“It was a phenomenal experience,” admitted Grant. “I was just delighted to get on to the pitch to win my 100th cap. To reach this milestone against the world No 1 side, and to score against a world-class goalkeeper like Hope Solo, is a great achievement and I’m delighted.
“Abby Wambach and I swapped tops at the end and she gave me the bouquet of flowers she had been presented with for her 200th cap. It was great to meet the Fifa world player of the year and have a word with her.
“It makes it a bit more special that we both reached cap milestones and scored in the same game. That doesn’t happen very often and makes it a unique experience for both of us.”
Unlike the game in Florida, where the Scots looked intimidated in the opening half hour, the first half was much more even in Nashville.
Rapinoe’s goal was all that separated the teams, but the United States stepped it up in the second period with Wambach and Press, who also scored two in Florida, making it 3-0 before Grant’s 81st-minute strike.
The last 45 minutes provided rare game time for Scotland’s No 2 goalkeeper Shannon Lynn, who came on after the interval for captain Gemma Fay.
There were also starts for young central defender Eilish McSorley and experienced midfielder Leanne Ross.