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Originally published Monday, July 14, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Soccer | Amy Rodriguez connects to lift U.S. 1-0 over Brazil

The U.S. women's team tuned up for next month's Olympics in Beijing with another shutout. Amy Rodriguez scored in the 71st minute and the...

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The U.S. women's team tuned up for next month's Olympics in Beijing with another shutout.

Amy Rodriguez scored in the 71st minute and the United States posted its sixth consecutive shutout, beating Brazil 1-0 in an exhibition match before 15,071 Sunday.

The United States is 20-0-1 in 2008. The teams meet again Wednesday in San Diego in their last match before the Olympics. The United States faces Norway on Aug. 6 in its first Olympic match.

"Any time we go out on the Olympic or national level, it's important to us," said the 21-year-old Rodriguez, who has five goals in 17 matches this year. "Every win counts, and with every game we want to get better. So not only is the win important, but the overall play and chemistry of the team [is important]. We just want to be ready for the Olympics."

Hope Solo, a former Washington Huskies standout from Richland, was the U.S. goalkeeper in the first half and Nicole Barnhart was in goal for the second half. They combined for three saves. The United States outshot Brazil 19-10.

The United States is still getting familiar with coach Pia Sundhage's system, and so far the results have been positive. The Americans have won 10 in a row and haven't allowed a goal since a 2-1 victory over Australia in South Korea on June 15.

"The way we played in the second half, keeping the ball and possessing it against a great team, builds confidence going into the Olympics," U.S. captain Christie Rampone said.

It was the first match the women played in this country since a 6-0 rout of Canada on May 10 in Washington, D.C.

The United States had several chances against Brazil before breaking through.

Abby Wambach sent a pass through the box to Rodriguez, and Brazil defender Tania initially blocked the ball. But the ball went between her legs and Rodriguez let go with a high blast that Brazil keeper Barbara could only get her fingertips on for the match's lone goal.

"I wasn't expecting that ball to pop through, but fortunately the defender took a bad touch and it was able to sneak by to me and luckily it went in," Rodriguez said.

The U.S. plan was to be more aggressive in the second half.

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"I said at halftime, 'Take the chance and keep possession,' " Sundhage said. "I think we did that in the second half."

Wambach nearly scored her 100th career international goal during the two-minute injury time of the first half.

The most important item on the U.S. agenda is the Olympic gold, and the players say they are ready.

"With training and changing our formation a lot, it's building our confidence every day," Rampone said. "One more game and a little more fine tuning to go; we're almost there. We don't want to peak until we get there."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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