ATLANTA — U.S. women’s coach Tom Sermanni told his team at halftime to work harder at creating space in front of Russia’s back line.
Once the Americans made that adjustment, the rout was on.
“When we got the two early goals, that basically opened it up and finished the game from the standpoint of Russia probably coming back to win the game,” Sermanni said. “The space opened up a bit more, and we started to get a few more chances.”
Abby Wambach scored her record 165th international goal and the U.S. beat Russia 8-0 in an exhibition Thursday night to extend its unbeaten streak to 42 games.
Shutting out Russia for the second time in six days by a combined 15-0 score, the world’s No. 1-ranked team improved to 36-0-6 since March 2012. The Americans are 70-0-10 in their last 80 home games.
With the United States up 2-0 on own goals in the 11th and 50th minutes, Amy Rodriguez took Heather O’Reilly’s pass from the right side and volleyed it in with her left leg for a 3-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
Russia was outshot 24-4 and had no shots on goal. The Americans had 17.
Wambach, scoring her 40th goal in the Americans’ last 48 games, made it 4-0 in the 54th, taking Megan Rapinoe’s pass from the left side and bowling over goalkeeper Maria Zhamanakova in the penalty box for the score.
The U.S. took a 5-0 lead when Morgan Brian’s shot from the right side glanced off Rapinoe’s head and into the net.
Wambach, the U.S. captain and 2012 FIFA women’s world player of the year, left the game in the 81st minute after Lauren Holiday’s penalty kick made it 6-0.
O’Reilly’s goal put the U.S. ahead 7-0 in the 83rd. Christen Press added the eighth goal.
Rodriguez said she and her teammates were thrilled that over 16,000 attended the game after it was postponed a day because of a winter storm that hit Atlanta on Wednesday.
“Tonight was a good night to come,” Rodriguez said. “I think last night would have been not as fun. I’m so happy that the fans got to enjoy tonight’s game. Through the weather, they came, and we’re very grateful for that.”
The U.S. took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute on an own goal as Whitney Engen controlled a corner kick and hit the left post that bounced off Russia’s Elena Terekhova and into the net.
The second own goal went off Russian defender Valentina Orlova’s leg.
Defender Kelley O’Hara, playing for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery last June, played until the 33rd minute when Kristie Mewis took her place.
Sermanni took out many of his starters as the second half wore on and the lead mounted.
“We have so much depth on the bench,” reserve forward Sydney Leroux said. “We’re able to switch people in and out and kind of not really miss a beat. I think it’s great. It keeps everything competitive, definitely in training, so it’s been a good ride.”