Crystal Dunn scored the game winner as the United States Women's National Team took down a very game South Africa, 1-0, in the team's final game before coach Jill Ellis picks her squad for the Olympics next month.
With superstar Carli Lloyd starting the game on the bench for the U.S., the Yanks struggled to break down what was a solid South African defense in Chicago, and when they did, they had trouble finishing. Christen Press and youngster Mallory Pugh both missed easy chances in the first 20 minutes, as it looked as if the 52nd-ranked South Africans may get to the half knotted at zero.
Those hopes were dashed in the 35th minute, when a poor turnover by the visitors gifted the ball the Americans in the attacking half. Pugh, with the ball at her feet, raced towards the end line before putting in a cross that bounced all the way across the six-yard box to a wide open Dunn at the back post, who made no mistake with the finish.
While the South Africans were organized, defended well, and should be proud of the narrow defeat, they failed to get anything going forward. That meant is was an easy day for goalkeeper Hope Solo, who recorded her 100th clean sheet with the national team.
The Orlando Pride's Alex Morgan started and had a great chance to double the Yanks' lead in the second half, but saw some last ditch South African defending keep her from scoring. Obviously Pride keeper Ashlyn Harris did not play, as Solo went for the big milestone.
One of the big questions following Saturday's match is the question of whether or not midfielder Megan Rapinoe will be chosen for the Olympic squad. Rapinoe was with the team for the match against South Africa, but did not play. Rapinoe is coming of a torn ACL she suffered late in 2015 and has not played since, which could obviously hurt her chances, especially since the Olympic roster is 18 players instead of the usual 23.
The USWNT is back in action in the final tuneup for the Rio Olympics against Costa Rica on Friday, July 22 at 9 p.m. ET in Kansas City.