U.S. Women's National Team
Yanks Shut Out Colombia as Julie Johnston Scores Twice
April 10, 2016
ON THE BACK of a Julie Johnston brace, the United States women’s national team overcame a sloppy start to beat Colombia 3-0 in Chester, Pa., on Sunday afternoon.
Early in the match, the Yanks missed a number of chances but Christen Press finally broke the deadlock with a nice chipped effort in the 26th minute. Johnston added to the total with a pair of headed goals off set pieces on each side of the halftime break.
Here are three thoughts on the match.
From the get-go, the Americans struggled to find their rhythm with Press and Lloyd missing three good opportunities to score inside the first 10 minutes of play. While Press eventually redeemed herself, Lloyd battled throughout the contest and Ellis withdrew her superstar in the 72nd minute of play.
In addition to a number of bad touches resulting in lost possessions, Lloyd struggled in front of goal, putting a series of open chances wide, over the crossbar, or right at the goalkeeper. Dubbed as a homecoming game of sorts for the New Jersey native—who grew up 30 minutes from Chester—Lloyd’s dejected look as she left the field said it all.
With Lloyd struggling to get the U.S. offense rolling, a number of other players had an opportunity to pick up the slack—and didn’t. After a stellar effort on Wednesday night as the lone holding midfielder in a new-look 4-1-3-2, Jill Ellis benched Allie Long in favor of Sam Mewis.
Mewis, however, did little to help the U.S. get out of its funk and failed to provide her center backs with good passing lanes out of the back. A natural attacking midfielder, Mewis didn’t adjust to the new role—she did play as a holding midfielder in a double-pivot in previous matches—and failed to drop deep enough to effectively recycle possession for the Yanks.
Ellis has said the role is still essentially up for grabs at this point, and even though the coach only recently recalled Long back into the team, Mewis’ performance on Sunday—following Long’s excellent play and two-goal effort on Wednesday—will only give Ellis more to think about in the weeks ahead.
DUNN NEEDS TO BE BETTER
It’s hard to imagine any player handling disappointment better than Crystal Dunn did following missing the World Cup roster last summer. She returned to her club, won the NWSL’s Most Valuable Player award and Golden Boot, and earned her way back into the national team picture.
However, on Sunday, Dunn missed a chance to stake her claim as the U.S.’s primary backup at center forward. While she demonstrates an incredible work rate, strength, and pace, her first touch consistently gets her into trouble and causes the U.S. to lose possession in transition.
It may be a moot point with a healthy Alex Morgan—who once again looked her old self in the SheBelieves Cup—but Morgan has been injured repeatedly over the past few years and the U.S. needs a go-to backup. Dunn has proven she can get it done against lesser teams, and is a monster off the bench—as she demonstrated with a world-class strike against England last month. Still, she needs to show more as a starter in the hold-up role a center forward must perform.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.