Press and Lloyd lead the USWNT past England to open the SheBelieves Cup
The USWNT continues to notch wins under Vlatko Andonovski. Last night it was a 2-0 win over England in Orlando to open its SheBelieves Cup campaign. ASN's John Halloran is here with his thoughts.
BY John Halloran PostedTHE UNITED STATES opened up the 2020 SheBelieves Cup on Thursday night, downing England 2-0 in front of 16,531 fans in Orlando.
March 05, 2020
March 05, 2020
After a cagey first half, the Americans picked up two goals in quick succession early on in the second stanza with Christen Press opening the scoring and Carli Lloyd following close behind.
Here are three thoughts on the match.
NO QUESTION - CHRISTEN PRESS SHOULD BE STARTING
Following her excellent Olympic qualifying campaign, in which she finished the tournament with five tallies, Press earned another start on Thursday and made the most of it again.
Early in the first half, she looked the most likely to make an impact, feeding Lloyd and Dunn on promising attacks. However, no one on the U.S. squad was able to break the deadlock through the initial 45 minutes.
But only 10 minutes into the second half, Press scored a worldie.
Christen Press. pic.twitter.com/DB1xwdKlKg— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) March 6, 2020
Working a small bit of space just above the top of the box, she turned and fired a world-class, bending shot past English keeper Carly Telford to open the scoring.
The knock on Press has always been that she doesn’t get it done against big teams, a narrative that has finally begun to change over the past year. In January 2019, she took the ball inside her own half against Spain and drove the length of the field to score the game-winner. In July, she scored in the World Cup semifinal win over England with a headed effort and in November’s Victory Tour another excellent individual effort led to a goal against Sweden.
With Thursday night’s goal, and especially the quality of it, it’s fair to say that Press has shaken whatever monkey there might have been on her back regarding her ability against top teams.
Now, Vlatko Andonovski faces the difficult part of Press’ excellent form and needs to decide who gets benched, Tobin Heath or Megan Rapinoe?
THE DEFENSE WASN’T GREATEven though the English weren’t able to notch a goal on Thursday, that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful breaking the American backline down.
Early in the first half, Kelley O’Hara let back-to-back services into the U.S. area while defending in 1 v. 1 positions on the flank. Then Becky Sauerbrunn mishit a headed clearance and had to foul Nikita Parris when she got in behind. Only five minutes after that, Sauerbrunn gave the ball away in possession which led to Ellen White getting off a shot from distance. And in between those two errors, Alyssa Naeher had to bail the Americans out when Jill Scott was left completely unmarked on a corner kick.
A miscommunication over who should step left Crystal Dunn in no man’s land early on in the second half and let Parris in on goal again. Then, five minutes later, Parris snuck in behind Sauerbrunn for another chance that Naeher managed to smother. For good measure, Beth England found enough space in between Abby Dahlkemper and Kelley O’Hara in the 81st minute to not only receive a lofted service into the box, but also take it down and fire off a shot.
Overall, the U.S. did do well covering for each other when they made mistakes—and the team is certainly not in top form being out of their club seasons—but their ability to earn the shutout on Thursday was just as much due to England’s inability to capitalize in front of net as it was the Americans’ last-ditch defending.
CARLI LLOYD DID ENOUGH
Lloyd put in a relatively quiet performance against England, but made the most of her chances when they came, finishing the night with a goal and an assist. Admittedly, Lloyd’s assist was about as pedestrian as they come, but her goal came off a nice, calm strike on a bouncing ball.
While many seem eager to put Lloyd into an earlier-than-scheduled retirement, the 37-year-old striker keeps coming up with moments that prove she’s still in the lead to be starting as the U.S.’ No. 9 come the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Americans next play Spain on Sunday at Red Bull Arena (5 p.m. ET, ESPN).
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.