The United States Women’s National Team finished the international break with a 3-1 win over the Netherlands in front of 15,652 fans at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. After falling behind early, Carli Lloyd and Allie Long scored for the U.S., with a Dutch own-goal in between. The USWNT improved to 18-0-3 in 2016. The Yanks also improved to 6-1 all-time against the Netherlands, having won the last six meetings.
Jill Ellis’ squad was without Kelley O’Hara due to a death in her family, but got a boost in the midfield with Morgan Brian returning from concussion-like symptoms.
The start didn’t go as planned, as Shanice van de Sanden gave the Dutch the lead just two minutes in with a transition goal. A long ball and flicked header sent the Dutch attacker down the right side and she easily got in behind Meghan Klingenberg, who was caught too far forward and couldn’t recover. USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was left to fend for herself 1-v-1, which is never ideal, and Van de Sanden found the far side of the net to make it 1-0.
The Dutch were well-organized and came to play, creating problems for the U.S. through much of the first half, as the USWNT came to the realization that this was going to be a battle. Naeher settled in nicely after the early goal though, and had no trouble with the few half-chances the Dutch were able to produce.
Lloyd had a scary moment in the 27th minute as she was taken out on a counter attack and sustained a small gash on her knee from the collision with Mandy van den Berg. The referee allowed the U.S. to play on but the attack broke down and no card was issued.
Lloyd brought the U.S. level in the 35th as Tobin Heath scorched down the right flank and cut back a perfect pass. Lloyd hammered it right-footed past Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal to make it 1-1. The captain’s shot found the upper right corner with far too much power for the goalkeeper to keep out.
Pride captain Alex Morgan was sent in by Tobin Heath and either completely squibbed a right-footed effort wide of goal or simply over-hit a pass for Lindsey Horan. Either way it was a golden opportunity that went wanting in the 43rd minute when the USWNT should have gone ahead.
The United States finished the first half strong, with a few scoring chances and lots of high pressure to put the Dutch on their heels a bit. But the first period ended all square at 1-1. Morgan’s night ended after the first 45 minutes, as did Julie Johnston’s, with Christen Press and Emily Sonnett checking in for the USWNT.
Ali Krieger set up what should have been the second goal just three minutes into the second half. Off a Krieger centering pass, Brian sent in a shot that hit the post and skipped off the goalkeeper right back out in front to Lloyd, who fired it back on frame but van Veenendaal made a sparkling kick save.
But just moments later, in the 50th minute, Press’ cross hit Dutch defender van den Berg and bounced in for an own-goal after some contact in the box with Heath. Tobin got tangled up with Dominique Janssen and was knocked a bit into van den Berg, who went sprawling into the six-yard box. The Dutch complained for a foul to the referee but the call wasn’t getting overturned and the USWNT led for the first time, 2-1.
The USWNT missed an outstanding opportunity to make it 3-1 three minutes later. A shot into the box deflected right to Press, who fired toward the far post but hit the woodwork in the 53rd minute.
Van Veenendaal made a nice snare on a tight-angle shot from Lloyd in the 60th minute that had some steam on it. Had it not been for the keeper, the shot might have been able to sneak in.
In the 64th minute, Ellis sent on Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe for Klingenberg and Horan, just as the intensity of the match started to pick up after a few hard challenges by the Dutch. That seemed to at least stem the growing animosity on the pitch between the two sides.
The U.S. kept the pressure on and finally broke through with an insurance goal in the 77th minute. Allie Long nodded home after a nice build-up off a throw-in. Becky Sauerbrunn threw in to Rapinoe, who chipped in a cross to the back post that Lloyd headed back across the six to Long for the finish.
The Netherlands tried to get it right back with van de Sanden breaking down the right with speed and sending in a far-post effort in the 79th but Naeher got a hand on it to keep it out and force a corner.
That was it for the scoring and pretty much for the good chances. The United States had a few more chances but nothing too menacing, including:
- Sonnett’s header over the bar off a Heath free kick in the 83rd minute.
- Heath’s long-range free kick in the 88th that had van Veenendaal scrambling back to make a save.
- Crystal Dunn’s stinging shot on goal in the 91st that forced a save. It was right at the goalkeeper but with a lot of power.
The USWNT players disperse back to their club teams, with Morgan and Ashlyn Harris – an unused sub on this night – returning to the Orlando Pride to finish out the club’s inaugural NWSL season on Saturday at Camping World Stadium against FC Kansas City.