The USWNT came away victorious in both friendlies against China over the course of the past week. Here are three things we learned in the process.
Two very close matches ended in favor of the USWNT this week as they defeated China 1-0 and 2-1 in their pair of friendlies. The victories ensure the U.S. stays undefeated in 2018.
This was the final opportunity for anyone to impress head coach Jill Ellis as the Tournament of Nations awaits the USWNT at the end of July.
Both matches featured the usual stars making an impact. In Thursday night’s win, Alex Morgan scored her 86th career goal for the USWNT and was the only goal in the 1-0 win.
On Tuesday, Tobin Heath scored the winner in the 2-1 win. Megan Rapinoe had given the U.S. an initial lead in the 34th minute but China equalized in the 72nd when Li Yang scored.
Now that the final test before the Tournament of Nations is behind them, the USWNT will go in search of their second tournament win of 2018 in just over a month’s time.
Here are three things we learned from the friendlies.
3. The returnees
After not making a start for the USWNT since Septemeber of 2017, Heath came back in spectacular fashion scoring the match-winner on Tuesday night. Despite not in the SheBelieves Cup, she made a strong case to be included in the squad for the upcoming Tournament of Nations.
Julie Ertz was also a standout making her return in the midfield after missing the majority of the matches this year.
Both of these players late entrance into the pool of possible players to be selected shows the depth the U.S. still holds in the midfielder and forward positions.
2. Naeher the outright #1?
Having recorded her second clean sheet of the season in Thursday’s victory, Alyssa Naeher appears to be at the top of the U.S. depth chart in net. She has arguably been the most consistent goalkeeper over some time now and has to be considered the outright no.1 option to lead the USWNT at the World Cup next summer.
There are plenty of reliable options in the player pool the U.S. can rely on if need be. Ashlyn Harris doesn’t appear to be going anywhere as the top backup option and the introduction of some of the younger goalkeepers will give plenty of options to take the third spot.
1. Morgan and Rapinoe continue good form offensively
It has been a very good year for Morgan and Rapinoe internationally. Nine of the 21 goals have been scored by these two players combined total. Their ability to lead the way offensively will be paramount in July and they will be counted to continue their fantastic form into the late summer.