Written by Michael Saunders
Game Report USA vs Argentina 24 Feb 2021 The USWNT handily defeated Argentina 6-0 last night to win the 6th iteration of the SHEBELIEVES CUP in Orlando, Fl. As Vlatko Adonovski indicated in his pre-game press conference, his starting line-up provided opportunities for different players to make their case for inclusion onto the Olympic squad this coming summer: Jane Campbell, Kelley O’Hara, and Tierna Davidson all got their first minutes in this competition; Casey Krueger and Kristie Mewis got their first starts. Interestingly he shifted Christen Press to the right wing allowing the oft used Lynn Williams some rest. It took about a quarter of hour before the US settled into the game. Recognizing that they were matching up against a slower & tired Argentine team, the Americans overcame the compact formation used by “La Albiceleste” by playing wide or playing direct over their defensive line. This led to Rapinoe’s first goal as she received a pass from Lavelle, then finishing by avoiding the onrushing Argentine goalkeeper in the sixteenth minute The US’ second goal occurred ten minutes later as Press pinpointed a pass to Lloyd who then unselfishly passed the ball to an unmarked Rapinoe for the second goal. Then in the 35th minute, Mewis provided a similar service to Lloyd to make the score 3-0. Six minutes later Mewis concluded the scoring in the first half when she deftly turned a defender from a pass from Krueger then clinically shooting to the far corner of the net with her favorite left foot. As unfair as it may seem that the US shredded the Argentines in the first half for reasons mentioned earlier, it was important that the USA clicked on finishing its opportunities as opposed to earlier games in the SBC. It is also worth mentioning that both Krueger & Davidson performed well in their respective roles. Vlatko noted that it took a short time for Krueger to get into the mix, but she quickly overcame any nerves by participating in the offensive thrust of the team throughout the half. He also praised Davidson’s calmness and
control when called upon emphasizing her recognizing the channels for the team’s building from the back. Moreover, she took advantage of opportunities to go forward in the second half. Personally, I view her being groomed to become Sauerbrunn’s heir apparent. The second half began with three substitutions as Horan, Purce & Morgan replaced Lavelle, Krueger & Lloyd respectively. Vlatko shifted Mewis to the right side of the midfield so that Horan would play left. The substitutions only increased the tempo with fresh legs as they all performed well. In the 62nd minute, Vlatko called upon Sophia Smith to replace Rapinoe, shifting Press to the left side, and Jaelin Howell subbed for Julie Ertz as the defensive mid. The team was relentless in wearing down the opponent. Horan & Press displayed their prowess by securing half spaces and spreading the attack from different areas of the pitch. Sophia Smith demonstrated her vision and willingness to take on defenders in midfield finding space to the top of the box, leading Morgan with a fine weighted pass to which scored over the onrushing goalkeeper. In response to the question in the post-game press conference, Morgan smiled when asked how she felt upon scoring her first goal since giving birth to her daughter Charlie last year. It was her 108th international goal, moving her into sole possession of fifth place on the team’s career list.
“I’m very excited to get my first goal back with the national team and join the list of moms on the team who have scored goals and played as a national team player,” Morgan said. “I just want to be an example for other female athletes who are moms or want to become moms, knowing that they still belong in the game.” Finally, Press scored the sixth goal of the match in the 88th minute off a corner which Horan headed back across the front of goal for Press to head it in. Vlatko also stated that he was pleased with both the team’s & individual performances despite playing against a weak opponent. His final remark at the
post-game press conference spoke volumes: “It’s hard to break them down. And it’s hard to do it quick. So for us, it takes a little bit of time to figure out the angles, to figure out the area, to figure out the positions in how we can do it. So that was the one thing that we’re looking at, like, how quick can we do it? Who can figure that out and how we can unlock a team? So, the understanding of our principles, the implementation of our principles, and the execution individually as a group as a unit, and also as a team is what we’re looking for.” Yes, that objective met. Nevertheless, his task to roster a limited roster for the Olympics is still a daunting one. USA-ARGENTINA:
USA 6 Argentina 0. Att.: 4,000 (limited capacity) USA 6 Argentina 0. Goals: Rapinoe 16, 26, Lloyd 35, K.Mewis 41, Morgan 82, Press 88. USA -- Campbell; O'Hara (Sonnett, 32), Sauerbrunn, Davidson, Krueger (Purce, 46); Lavelle (Horan, 46), Ertz (Howell, 62), K.Mewis; Press, Lloyd (Morgan, 46), Rapinoe (Smith, 62). Argentina -- Pereyra; Delgado, Sachs, Cometti, Falfan (Ippolito, 59); Menendez (Larroquette 51), Nunez (Stabile 46), Santana, Rodriguez (Oviedo, 63); Huber (Mayorga, 52), Jaimes (Camara, 76). Referee: Marianela Araya (Costa Rica) Yellow cards: USA -- none; Argentina -- Nunez 27, Santana 72, Ippolito 90. Red cards: none.
Statistics: USA/Argentina Shots: 27/1 Shots on target: 11/0 Saves: 0/5 Corner Kicks: 7/0 Fouls: 6/10 Offside: 5/0
Contributed by Michael Saunders