PORTLAND — The stakes weren’t monumental, but the show was worthy of a big stage.
Abby Wambach delivered two goals in the second half Thursday, and the United States delighted a crowd of 18,570 with plenty of offensive creativity in a 3-0 victory over Canada in an international women’s soccer exhibition match at Jeld-Wen Field.
Playing for only the second time since the heartbreaking loss on July 17 to Japan in the World Cup final, the USA dominated on Thursday by using its quickness and short passing to build the attack from many angles.
But it wasn’t until the final half-hour that the Americans delivered goals.
Not surprisingly, it was Wambach who delivered. Dating to the World Cup, the 31-year-old from Rochester, N.Y., has scored in her last six appearances for the national team. That includes the only goal in a 1-1 draw with Canada on Saturday in Kansas City.
“I was proud of everybody. If you create enough opportunities, a few are going to fall,” Wambach said.
First came a left-footed dart from the top of the 18-yard box in the 63rd minute that screamed into the left side of the net.
Seven minutes later, Wambach struck again with a diving header at the left post to finish off a cross from Kelley O’Hara.
The exclamation point came in the final seconds of the match, when Alex Morgan was in the right place to re-direct a Lauren Cheney header into the goal.
After the final whistle, players from both teams saluted the fans, and Wambach and Megan Rapinoe gave short interview’s to the crowd thanking fans for their support.
Rapinoe didn’t get a goal, but the former University of Portland star from Redding, Calif., produced her share of near misses — including a couple of shots off the post.
“That’s football,” Rapinoe said.
Prior to the goals, the loudest cheer from the crowd came in early in the second half, when goalkeeper Hope Solo was replaced by Jill Loyden. In addition to being perhaps the team’s most popular player, the Richland, Wash., native is a participant this season in the “Dancing with the Stars” television show.
Solo did make two saves in her 100th match for the United States. But the Canadian keepers were much busier.
The Americans outshot Canada 21-6, including 10-2 in shots on goal. The USA earned seven corner kicks to none for Canada.
“It always feels good to keep a clean sheet, especially when we’re pushing forward,” defender Stephanie Cox, another former Portland Pilot, said.
For the participants, the highlight of the night was the atmosphere.
“It’s a great football stadium, soccer stadium. You get inspired when you get here,” USA coach Pia Sundhage said.
“It was unbelievable,” Rapinoe said. “The way the crowd interacts, it brings a lot of energy.”