61117_isi_presschristen_uswntbs061117140 Brad Smith/isiphotos.com
U.S. Women's National Team

Christen Press Scores, Leads U.S. Women to 1-0 Victory

The U.S. defense shined in back-to-back 1-0 wins over Sweden and Norway, but the American attack struggled during both contests. ASN's John D. Halloran shares his take on the two friendlies.
BY John D. Halloran Posted
June 11, 2017
10:00 AM

WRAPPING UP a two-game European swing, the United States women’s national team picked up another win on Sunday, downing Norway 1-0 on the strength of a second-half tally from Christen Press.

The win over the No. 11-ranked Norwegians came just three days after the Americans defeated No. 6 Sweden by the same scoreline and marks the first games abroad for the U.S. squad since last summer’s Olympic Games.

Despite the wins, it’s hard to remember the last time the U.S. attack seemed to be in top gear and that didn’t change in either of these two matches. Against Sweden, Rose Lavelle took advantage of one of the only decent chances the Americans created and slotted home for the lone goal. Against Norway, the attack once again seemed painfully stagnant and only some sloppy defensive play allowed Press to find the game-winner.

Certainly, the absence of Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, and Morgan Brian (all out through injuries) didn’t help, but the U.S. midfield has simply not been creating chances in 2017. In these most recent games, Allie Long and Sam Mewis started in the center midfield positions and both offered little in the way of breaking lines or opening up the American attack.

Long did well on occasion to switch the point of attack, but proved far too sloppy in possession far too often over the two-game stretch. Mewis, for her part, contributed little outside a handful of errant shot attempts.

Brian, at her best, has proven she can be the deep-lying playmaker the U.S. needs, but her presence didn’t change the U.S.’ poor fortunes in the disastrous SheBelieves Cup and her injuries this year haven’t helped. Another option should be Lindsey Horan, but Jill Ellis has largely relegated Horan to a substitute role in recent months and this week chose to use Horan as a substitute at forward against Sweden and Norway.

On the other hand, one bright spot from these two most recent matches was the Americans’ defensive effort.

Casey Short started the Sweden game at center back—her third straight game at the unfamiliar position—and may have been the best player on the field in Gothenburg. While she probably could have done a little better against Norway, back in her more familiar role as an outside back, it was another solid camp for the up-and-coming defender.

Abby Dahlkemper

Abby Dahlkemper also took advantage of a good showing in these matches, playing well as a second-half substitute against Sweden and then getting a full 90-minute run-out against Norway. The two games were the first minutes for Dahlkemper since last October when she received her first call-up and caps before suffering a broken foot in the team’s November camp.

Considering the fact that Ellis cut longtime back-up Whitney Engen last fall, has only given Julie Ertz one start since last fall, and didn’t call in Ali Krieger, Dahlkemper’s performance should help her earn more opportunities and hopefully strengthen a center back pool which has looked unexpectedly depleted.

Finally, Alyssa Naeher accounted well for herself in the net. After a rocky performance against France in the SheBelieves Cup, Naeher made several important saves in each of the two European friendlies to help the U.S. to back-to-back shutouts. Particularly in the Sweden game, Naeher looked strong off her line, a marked improvement after being far too slow in her decision-making process in the SheBelieves Cup.

The U.S. next plays against Australia on July 27.

John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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