The United States Women’s National Team had a header party at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. The Yanks scored four times off headers in the first half to take command of the match and finished off No. 20 Belgium, 6-0.
Carli Lloyd scored the game’s first two goals and things just got worse for Belgium from there. She also later added an assist on an Alex Morgan strike.
Jill Ellis made a lot of changes to the 4-3-3 lineup from Thursday’s match against Australia, including the insertion of Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger at right back. As a result of not getting on the field Thursday, Krieger now stands at 99 career international caps. Morgan and Ashlyn Harris were on the substitutes’ bench but they both got on the field.
The early story of the game was a lot of good play by the U.S. without a hint of a final product. Lloyd started it in the first minute, clearing a corner kick, then getting forward in the attack and beating several midfielders before spraying the ball left to Christen Press. The Utah Royals striker, however, could not pick out a teammate in the box with her cross.
In the sixth minute, Press was fouled just above the area. Lindsey Horan took the set piece and went for goal. Her shot beat the wall but it was soft and easy for Belgium goalkeeper Nicky Evrard. Moments later, Lloyd beat a defender on the end line and crossed a dangerous ball through the area but no U.S. player could get to it.
In the 12th minute, Krieger started a sequence that ended up with a cross to the left from Sam Mewis to Press, who hit the ball first time on the volley. Whether her left-footed effort was a shot or a cross, it went harmlessly out for a goal kick.
The Yanks struck in the 14th minute. Carli Lloyd got her head to a long ball by Tierna Davidson and guided it inside the right post to make it 1-0.
Lloyd did the same thing in the 20th minute, snapping a header inside the right post on a cross by Crystal Dunn from the left corner. The captain’s brace made it 2-0 and gave the Yanks control of the match.
Six minutes later, it was Horan’s turn. The Portland Thorns star went up and got a tough corner kick cross and guided it into the right side of the net to make it 3-0 as the U.S. deployed their ALL HEADERS EVERYTHING offense in the first half.
Mal Pugh tried to make it four goals in the 28th minute with a blistering shot on goal with her left foot, but Evrard made the save and did well to hold it. Mewis blasted one well over the net moments later, but she’d get the team’s fourth goal in the 33rd. Mewis scored on a — you guessed it — header off a Press free kick and the Belgians continued to struggle in the air.
Sam Mewis adds one. Theme night idea: headers only. pic.twitter.com/2ODgymccou— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) April 8, 2019
Lloyd’s bid for a header hat trick in the first half trickled wide on the last touch of the first half and the United States held a 4-0 advantage at the break. The 36-year-old set up that effort by winning a ball about 30 yards out and the Belgian defense had to pull her back by the shirt to avoid another scoring opportunity. Belgium simply had no answer for Lloyd in the opening 45 minutes.
All three members of the Pride saw the field together to start the second half, with Morgan and Harris joining Krieger on the pitch as second-half subs. It took Morgan only seven minutes to get on the score sheet. She played Lloyd down the left channel, then sprinted forward on a run toward the box. As Carli cut inside, Morgan pointed where she wanted the ball and she got the return pass, then roofed the ball over Evrard to make it 5-0. It was her 101st international goal. The U.S. improved to 61-0-10 when Morgan scores a goal.
With that, it was simply a matter of what the final score would be. The U.S. didn’t stop attacking although Belgium got a bit more of the ball in the second period and even got some balls into the U.S. area, kindly getting Harris a few touches.
Mewis tried to get her brace in the 66th minute going low to head a corner kick cross toward goal but she got under it and sent it over the bar. Press missed from just in front of goal in the 69th minute, just after Krieger’s attempt to pick out Morgan with a cross was cut out by the Belgian defense.
Belgium’s best opportunity to get on the board came in the 79th minute off a turnover by Davidson in her own end but the Yanks were able to block a shot that went off of the outside of the left post.
Morgan should have had an assist in the 86th minute, serving up a tap-in for Jessica McDonald at the top of the six-yard box but the North Carolina Courage striker somehow knocked it over the bar.
McDonald got her goal in stoppage time. After Morgan earned a free kick just outside the area, Press served a ball into the box and McDonald nodded home on one of the game’s final touches to make it 6-0.
It was a comprehensive and easy win for the United States and captain Lloyd set the tone early.
That’ll do it for this international window. The USWNT will be back for a sendoff series prior to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. The Yanks will host South Africa, New Zealand, and Mexico on May 12, 16, and 26, respectively. The first World Cup match for the U.S. will be June 11 against Thailand in Reims, France.