Christen Press scored the only goal and Alyssa Naeher kept a clean sheet as the United States Women’s National Team escaped Norway with a 1-0 win over the host country. It was the second 1-0 win on a trip in which host sides Sweden and Norway should reasonably have expected to take something from the game.
The USWNT was poor by its lofty standards on the trip but managed to take one more chance than either host country in each game, coming home with two wins in as many tries. The U.S. improved to 29-19-2 against Norway in the all-time series and 2-1-1 as the road team in Norway.
Jill Ellis originally planned to line up her team in a 4-4-2 with Press and Rose Lavelle up top, a midfield of (L-R) Mallory Pugh, Samantha Mewis, Allie Long, and Crystal Dunn, and a back line of (L-R) Casey Short, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Kelley O’Hara in front of goalkeeper Naeher:
Ok. Who's ready to get this started?! Your #USWNT Starting XI.— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) June 11, 2017
Lineup Notes: https://t.co/qI3cocRaMv.
⚽️ | 1pm ET | @FOXTV pic.twitter.com/c6TYIjItJG
Pugh apparently picked up a knock and so the team came out in a 3-5-2 instead with Meghan Klingenberg coming on for Pugh. O’Hara and Klingenberg served as wingbacks in the five-player midfield in front of a back line of Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper, and Short.
Here’s how Norway lined up:
Her er Martin Sjögrens utvalgte til kampen mot USA. Se den på NRK 2 klokken 19.15! pic.twitter.com/84Cgs1gT5Q— NorgesFotballforbund (@NFF_info) June 11, 2017
Norway jumped on the front foot immediately with some early pressure but couldn’t fashion any kind of final ball. The hosts wasted an early set piece just three minutes in on a free kick that was practically a corner, hitting it over everyone and out for a goal kick.
The USWNT came into the game gradually. The first decent chance for the U.S. came in the ninth minute when Dunn fired wide from the top of the box after Press did well to hold possession and bring others into the attack.
Norway got in a dangerous cross in the 11th minute by Emilie Haavi of the Boston Breakers but the U.S. defense cleared it out. Ada Hegerberg got onto a similar cross in the 13th minute but headed wide as the USWNT looked vulnerable down the flanks.
Dunn fizzed a lethal-looking cross for Klingenberg in the 19th minute but it was just cut out for a corner at the last moment. The U.S. wasn’t able to get onto the cross on the set piece. After withstanding a couple near chances for Norway, Mewis blasted wide in the 26th minute off a nice bit of work from Klingenberg and Press.
Sloppy passing by the USWNT was a problem throughout the first half. Naeher had to come off her line to thwart an excellent chance in the 31st minute after one of the team’s many inaccurate passes. That opportunity came down Norway’s left side, which was an issue for the USWNT that the hosts exploited. O’Hara and Dunn had few answers as several dangerous balls came into the area from that side, leaving Sauerbrunn and Dahlkemper to make numerous clearances.
The Norwegians nearly got a break in the 39th minute on a corner kick. The cross came in and took a hop just in front of Naeher, who went down and blocked it with her arms and then it deflected off her legs, just inches in front of the goal line. Long was able to clear after a nervy few seconds.
That was the last decent chance for either side as the first period came to a scoreless close.
The USWNT had an early flurry after the break. Dunn pinged a cross into the area but it was cutout. Seconds later, Mewis had a go from the top of the box but it wasn’t a threat. Dunn sent in a cross for halftime sub Lindsey Horan — who came on for Klingenberg — in the 49th minute but it was headed out to Lavelle, who fired high on the half volley.
Norway answered with a warning in the 51st minute when Short turned it over and Caroline Hansen sent a back-post cross that three teammates couldn’t get to and could only watch roll inches wide of Naeher’s goal.
Press fired wide moments later, in the 54th minute, as the U.S. continued to fail to bother the goalkeeper. Two minutes later, Norway’s defense did well to block Dunn and Press in the box. The Yanks continued being kind enough not to add to goalkeeper’s Ingrid Hjelmseth’s troubles when Dahlkemper sent a header off frame in the 59th.
The U.S. finally broke through in the 60th minute when Press got onto a long ball out of the back by Sauerbrunn and slotted past Hjelmseth for a 1-0 lead. The goal kind of came out of nowhere but it was typical of Press, who darted in behind the defense, timing it perfectly.
Christen Press comes through for the #USWNT! #USAvNOR https://t.co/8SzUEKjuUt— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 11, 2017
Norway tried to strike back quickly, getting in deep and earning a corner when Dahlkemper made a vital tackle in the box. The cross was just out of reach for the hosts and skipped tantalizingly through the area. In the 70th, a Hansen cross barely landed on top of Naeher’s net and it didn’t appear the U.S. keeper was sure of where it was going.
In the 76th minute, Lisa-Marie Karlseng nearly got to a cross by Ingrid Wold but Naeher got there first and the whistle went for a foul on Norway as the ball skipped off the U.S. keeper’s hands. Moments later, a cross from a free kick hung mesmerizingly in the air for Norway but a push was called, giving the U.S. a free kick.
Horan got away with an elbow to the face of Ingvild Isaksen on an aerial ball in the 79th minute that could easily have seen her sent off. That could have changed the game considerably. The referee spotted the blood immediately but apparently missed the infraction.
The U.S got more bad news in the 84th minute when Lavelle pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury trying to get onto a long ball. Carli Lloyd came on to replace the Boston Breakers’ young star.
Karlseng sent in an effort in the third minute of stoppage time after several failed U.S. chances to clear the area, but the Norwegian couldn’t get much on her shot and it was comfortable for Naeher. Norway continued to pour forward against a defensive-minded U.S. side but couldn’t get passes through Dahlkemper and Sauerbrunn to bother Naeher.
After a generous five minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew and the U.S. had its second 1-0 win of the trip despite not playing particularly well on this brief Scandinavian tour.
The USWNT will reconvene in late July for the Tournament of Nations on the west coast, opening the event against Australia on July 27 in Seattle.