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U.S. Women's National Team

U.S. Attack Sputters Again as England Steals a Win

Rose Lavelle made her first-ever senior team start and Lindsey Horan put on a dominating display, but the Americans fell to England, 1-0, in a SheBelieves Cup contest played on a cold night in New Jersey.
BY John D. Halloran Posted
March 04, 2017
6:10 PM

FOR THE FIRST TIME in 27 games—in a streak going all the way back to December 2015—the United States women’s national team has lost a game. The Americans dominated for long stretches but England's Ellen White scored a late winner in the 89th minute, lifting the visitors to victory in the second match of the SheBelieves Cup.

Here’s what went right and what went wrong in front of a shivering crowd at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

Lavelle and Dunn Dominate Flanks

Rose Lavelle earned her first-ever senior team cap against The Lionesses and, despite playing out of her normal position in the center of midfield, she did well on the wing for the U.S.

On Saturday Lavelle showed why the Boston Breakers selected her with the No. 1 pick of this January’s National Women’s Soccer League draft, as the midfielder displayed a impressive array of foot skills against England.

Throughout the match Lavelle made a number of strong runs down the flank, connected well with her new teammates, and put several decent services into the box. Even though her contributions fell off later in the match, ironically, when head coach Jill Ellis moved Lavelle into her more natural center midfield position, the youngster showed why she is such a highly regarded prospect.

Crystal Dunn, playing on the other flank, put in a solid performance as well, generating some of the Americans’ best chances. Dunn repeatedly won the endline and put a number of good balls into the danger area. The sheer number of times her teammates found Dunn wide also speaks to her positioning off the ball and her ability to find pockets of space and provide her teammates with good passing lanes.

When Ellis pulled Dunn in the 63rd minute of play, the U.S. attack noticeably fell off.

Horan Makes a Statement

Unlike the high-pressing Germans on Wednesday night, England gave the Americans more space to work with in the middle of the pitch and Lindsey Horan did well to quarterback the U.S. attack.

Especially in the first half, Horan popped up everywhere for the Americans, engineering the U.S. offense from deep, tackling, and switching the point of attack. After seeing her playing time drop off dramatically last fall, the midfielder put in just the kind of performance she needed to get back in Ellis’ good graces.

Combined with her partner in the middle, Sam Mewis, Horan and the U.S. controlled possession for long stretches, primarily due to the play of their deep-lying midfielders.

U.S. Attack Continues to Putter

Against the Germans on Wednesday, the Americans’ lone goal came when Christen Press manufactured a chance out of nothing. Throughout that match, and continuing into Saturday against England, the U.S. offense struggled to put together smooth attacking combinations.

On Wednesday the Americans struggled to get Carli Lloyd involved and on Sunday they didn’t do much better. Starting forwards Mallory Pugh and Alex Morgan didn’t create a single memorable chance and Press and Lynn Williams did little off the bench.

The U.S.’ attacks broke down for a number of reasons—including poor touches, slow play, and a lack of accurate service—but one thing remains certain: If the U.S. is to end this tournament with a win, playing against France on Tuesday (7pm ET, FoxSports1), it will need to do much better on the offensive side of the ball.

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

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