USWNT downs Scotland with a first-half strike from Alex Morgan
The USWNT wrapped up its 2018 campaign with a 1-0 win over Scotland. The victory ensured that the Americans finsihed the year unbeaten as they build towards next year's World Cup.
BY John Halloran PostedTHE UNITED STATES women’s national team wrapped the calendar year with a 1-0 win over Scotland on the strength of a first-half strike from Alex Morgan.
November 14, 2018
November 14, 2018
The victory saw the Americans’ unbeaten streak extended another game—a stretch which now spans 18 months—and the U.S. also picked up its ninth shutout in a row.
ANOTHER UGLY CONTEST
From an aesthetic level, Tuesday’s contest presented another choppy, disjointed effort. Once again deploying a combination of new players and veterans playing out of their natural positions, the U.S. struggled to combine passes and was forced to edge out a win, just as it did last Thursday against Portugal.
Emily Fox, Jessica McDonald, and Danielle Colaprico all earned another cap, and some credit must be extended to head coach Jill Ellis for not only calling the trio into camp, but then giving them minutes. However, it would be difficult to say that any of three have forced Ellis’ to give them additional opportunities as the team heads into next year and the final stretch of World Cup preparation.
In the net, Ashlyn Harris got a rare start, but did little to make her case. Even with regular starter Alyssa Naeher looking vulnerable through some recent mistakes, Harris made a number of errors of her own, including taking too much time on a back pass she nearly lost in only the sixth minute of play, and missing the ball on a corner kick in the 30th minute—which forced Morgan to make a goal line clearance.
The criticism may be too harsh with even the U.S.’ regulars struggling to put together solid efforts during this European trip, but the fact remains that the second-tier players have to outshine the regular starters to earn more minutes, not match their malaise.
Despite the overall play, there were some positives to be taken from the match. Carli Lloyd, deployed as the starter in the No. 9 position, did well. While she didn’t end up on the final scoresheet—and did smash a penalty off the crossbar to miss her best opportunity—her holdup play as the center forward was excellent. She repeatedly came back to win the ball and either make a simple back pass to allow the midfield to move up the field, or found her wingers in space to jumpstart counterattacks.
Lloyd might not be the most ideal option as the U.S.’ backup at the position, but with nearly every other option in the pool struggling to make an impact when given an opportunity, she’s currently the best choice Ellis has available.
Abby Dahlkemper also put in a solid performance in the back, a good sign for an American defense that often looked exposed earlier in the year. She provided strong cover to her teammates, cleaning up any messes, made several important clearances, and blocked a number of shots from dangerous positions. With Tierna Davidson out for the foreseeable future and the center back pool thin as it is, Dahlkemper’s performance is a positive sign for the U.S. moving forward.
The next match for the Americans is January 19 against France in Le Harve (2:30 ET, FS1).
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.