Carli Lloyd and Christen Press both bagged a pair of goals and the U.S. national women's team overwhelmed Russia, 7-0, in a friendly. ASN's John D. Halloran reports.
John D. Halloran
IN THE SECOND
February 08, 2014
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of a three-game stretch of friendlies, a vibrant United States women’s national team overwhelmed Russia on Saturday afternoon by a score of 7-0.
The U.S. got off to a quick start in the first half and never relented, taking a three-goal lead before adding four goals in the second stanza. Carli Lloyd and Christen Press both scored twice for the Americans, while Heather O’Reilly, Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach added tallies of their own.
Here are five thoughts from the match.
Carli Lloyd was brilliant
Lloyd, coming back into the starting XI after sitting out the Canada game due to a red card suspension, played inspired soccer against Russia. In addition to some terrific passing combinations, Lloyd picked up two fantastic goals. Her first came on a through ball from Heather O’Reilly and, after getting on the end of it, Lloyd beat her defender on the dribble and fired her shot into the top shelf for the opening goal.
Her second goal was just as good. In the 37th minute, Lloyd received a pass from Stephanie Cox at the top of the box, took it down and fired it home. Later in the match, Lloyd also hit the crossbar and picked up the assist on Christen Press’ first goal early in the second half. Not surprisingly, Lloyd won Woman of the Match honors for her effort on Saturday.
“I thought she was outstanding," U.S. coach Tom Sermanni said afterward. "That output of energy in this sort of game—she was really motivated. I thought from the center of midfield, she dominated the game from in there."
Heather O’Reilly Was No Slouch
From the early minutes of the game, it was obvious that the Russian defenders were unable to handle O’Reilly. All match long, she was able to repeatedly win the endline and put dangerous services into the area. She also combined well with Press and Lloyd, picking up the assist on Lloyd’s opening goal with a nicely weighted pass.
“We feel awesome," O'Reilly said. "It’s cool and rewarding when you see things from the training pitch translate to games and to goals. We’re happy with some of our growth right now, and obviously, the score. We scored some really fantastic goals today. It’s exciting.”
As usual, O’Reilly displayed her trademark hustle throughout the contest, and she also picked up a goal herself in the 32nd minute, firing home a loose ball in the box.
Mewis in the Middle?
Kristie Mewis, a natural midfielder, has seen a lot of action at left back under national team coach Tom Sermanni. On Saturday, however, she lined up in the midfield and looked much more comfortable there than she had in her previous games along the backline.
Against Russia, Mewis provided steady service from the left side and generally showed well. A good performance is never a bad thing, of course, but if Mewis becomes pigeonholed as a midfielder she will face extremely stiff competition for a World Cup roster spot. There is plenty of talent on the U.S. squad at both outside back and on the wing, but Mewis will face an uphill battle for playing time if she stays in the midfield.
Christen Press Just Scores Goals
Press was excellent in her hold-up play, got involved in numerous attacking passing combinations, and made good runs into space. Even though the Russian defense didn't offer much in the way of resistance, she took advantage of her opportunity to start, and was rewarded with two goals.
Her first goal came in the 51st minute, as she nodded a cross from Lloyd past Russian goalkeeper Elvira Todua. Eight minutes later Press scored again, this time pouncing on a rebound coming on the end of an Ali Krieger strike. The two goals give the 25-year-old Press 10 in her U.S. international career.
Russia was clearly outmatched
While the U.S. looked good in this 7-0 win, the result, as well as the individual player performances, must be taken with a grain of salt. Russia was clearly outmatched on Saturday and could not compete with the U.S. on a technical or athletic level.
The Russians held on bravely through the first 30 minutes, but then gave up three goals before the half and completely self-destructed after that.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.