Carli Lloyd surpasses 300 caps; Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle stand out in European friendlies.
By Alex Holmes
The United States Women’s National Team completed its two-game European swing earlier this week. The USWNT left the continent with a draw against Sweden and a 2–0 victory against France.
In the first match against Sweden, Carli Lloyd earned her 300th cap with the USWNT, joining Kristine Lilly and Christie Pearce Rampone as the third player in U.S.Soccer history to earn 300 caps.
Sweden, ranked No. 5 in the world, came out in an aggressive, three-back formation against the U.S. The Swedes, who are known for playing a defensive, counter-attack style against the U.S., made the Americans uncomfortable from the opening whistle. The USWNT looked out of sync in the first half and Sweden’s pressure led to a Lina Hurtig goal off a header from Kosovare Asllani’s corner kick in the 38th minute.
With the score 1–0 in Sweden’s favor, the U.S.’s play in the second half did not appear too much better than the first 45 minutes.
The USWNT’s breakthrough came when right back Kelly O’Hara earned her team a penalty kick after being fouled on the edge of the eighteen-yard box, and Megan Rapinoe calmly netted her 58th goal for the USWNT and evened the score at 1–1. Thanks to Rapinoe’s goal in the 87th minute, the USWNT extended its unbeaten streak to 38 matches, but the team’s 16-game win streak came to end.
The USWNT’s unbeaten streak was put to the test again just three days later in Le Havre, France—the same venue where the USWNT last lost in January 2019.
The USWNT looked like their normal selves against France, applying high-pressure from the start. France, ranked No. 3 in the world, was without six key players—Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Griedge Mbock, Amel Majri, Delphine Cascarino, and Sakina Karchaoui—due to a COVID-19 outbreak in their club Olympique Lyonnais.
Alex Morgan started up top and made her presence felt early, drawing a penalty kick just five minutes into the game. Rapinoe converted the penalty kick, giving the U.S. an early 1–0 advantage. Morgan put the U.S. up 2–0 after Rose Lavelle slipped her a nice pass into France’s eighteen-yard box, where she struck the ball inside the far-post.
The USWNT’s defense did not allow France too many chances and Alyssa Naeher recorded her tenth shutout in 11 matches.
Late in the second half was also the first time that midfielders Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, and Sam Mewis were on the pitch at the same time. Ertz stayed put in the holding midfield position, while Mewis sat above her in the center. Lavelle and Horan flanked the team and Lavelle gave the French defense plenty of trouble on the right side. It’s possible that head coach Vlatko Andovnoski will continue experimenting with all four players on the field at the same time leading up to the Olympics.
Twenty-three players were on the roster for these two games and Andovnoski knows he can only take 18 of them to Tokyo. The USWNT will play in a few more friendlies later this spring and in the early summer before Andovnoski finalizes the Olympic roster.
The roster that Andovnoski took to Europe featured 15 players from the 2019 World Cup team, not including Tobin Heath (injury) or Catarina Macario (COVID-19 contact tracing protocol). Goalkeepers Jane Campbell and Casey Murphy, defenders Alana Cook and Midge Purce, along with midfielders Andi Sullivan and Kristie Mewis, and forwards Sophia Smith and Lynn Williams are presumably contesting for the last few spots on the Olympic roster.