The U.S win their second game in the SheBelieves Cup, winning 1-0 against Spain and putting them in first place for the standings.
The USWNT meets Spain only months after winning 2-1 in the Round of 16 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup on June 24th, 2019. The USWNT won on two penalty kicks in the World Cup game versus Spain and conceded their first goal of the World Cup Tournament to Spain.
The lineup in yesterday's game versus Spain has some changes compared to the lineup in their match against Spain during the World Cup. Carli Lloyd slides into the number nine position as a striker to replace Alex Morgan, who is expecting her first child in April. Emily Sonnett replaces Kelley O’Hara at the right back position. Lynn Williams replaces Tobin Heath as the right-winger. The captain for the USWNT is Crystal Dunn, who is celebrating her 100th cap for the national team in today’s match.
Spain’s starting lineup versus the United States has two changes from the starting lineup that lost in the Round of 16 this past June. Number 2, Ona Batlle and Number 9, Marta Cardona join the nine players that played against the USWNT in June.
At the end of the scoreless first half, the USWNT looked disorganized and did not have a lot of possession. All of the attacking mentality that they had in the game vs England seemed to have dissipated. Spain was dominating the majority of the possession in the first half and was breaking up the USWNT attacks with ease. If Spain was more sophisticated in the final third and had been finishing on the opportunities that they had in the first half, the USWNT would’ve potentially been in a much tougher spot. The few attacks that the USWNT did have were often off of set pieces or crosses that fell to no one. The Spain side had a few chances on goal in the first half. The most dangerous of these few opportunities was a shot that went off the side post and was cleared out by the USWNT defense.
The second half was not much better in terms of execution by the USWNT. They had moments of really good passing combinations and play but Spain was able to break them up and win the ball back. Spain continued to struggle in the final third which was mostly because of the United States ability to get back behind the ball. As soon as the USWNT would lose the ball, they’d get behind it and try to win it back. Spain was not able to send enough numbers forward quick enough to be able to get through the USWNT defense.
A corner by Spain forced a save by Alyssa Naeher in the 73rd minute, however, it was fairly easy save by Naeher.
Late in the second half, the USWNT subbed on Tobin Heath and Christen Press for Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. This was a wise move by Vlatko Andonovski and was probably a substitution that needed to occur earlier in the match. Lloyd and Rapinoe were unable to capitalize on set pieces and unable to put themselves in good positions to do much offensively. Shortly after these two substitutions, Lindsey Horan came onto the pitch for Samantha Mewis. Adding Horan helped provide fresh legs in the midfield to help the USWNT push forward and try to break through the Spain defense.
In the 87th minute, Christen Press took a set piece outside the eighteen and Julie Ertz capitalized on the set-piece. It was a much-needed goal by the US after struggling the entire match to try and score. Christen Press has been proving over and over again that she needs to be a starter in the Olympics. In the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, Christen Press received the Golden Ball and had an outstanding tournament. In the SheBelieves Cup so far, she has scored against England and was the assist on the lone goal in the Spain game. She is at the top of her game and her abilities seem to be recognized by newly appointed coach, Vlatko Andonovski. The goal scorer, Julie Ertz, was the most consistent player throughout the match so it is only fitting that she be the one who put the ball in the net.
Spain’s composure in this game was impressive. It is not uncommon to see teams be intimidated by the U.S. team but Spain showed they were not afraid with their play. Spain will be a team to watch in the 2020 Olympics and in the coming years after as they continue to work on their youth development. The USWNT is one of the best in the world, but even the best in the world have kinks to work out and this game showed some of the kinks that they need to resolve before the 2020 Olympics. The USWNT is set to play Japan on Wednesday, March 11th in the last match of the SheBelieves Cup.
Hi! My name is Sadie Sims. I am 19 years old and from Clarksville, TN. I am a freshman at Murray State University studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine. Soccer has been a really huge part of my life as I have played at the high school and club level and was a U.S. Soccer referee for 5 years. I was also an assistant coach to a U14 girls club team my junior and senior year of high school. I love watching the USWNT and the NWSL!