The United States Women’s National Team took to the field this afternoon against South Africa in Santa Clara, CA in preparationfor the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. It wasn’t much of a challenge for the number one ranked team in the world as the U.S. soundly defeated the South Africans, 3-0. Sam Mewis scored a brace and Carli Lloyd added a late goal to provide the offense.
This was the first game in which Jill Ellis had the team selected for the World Cup. Alex Morgan started for the U.S. wearing the captain’s armband. Her Orlando Pride teammates Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris were also in the squad, starting the game on the bench.
As expected, the U.S. dominated possession. It took 20 minutes before South Africa was even able to gain possession on the U.S. side of the field and the visitors never gave the U.S. any real trouble defensively.
This game was mostly South Africa sitting behind the ball and the U.S. attempting to break down the defense. The first real chance for the U.S. came in the 10th minute when Rose Lavelle played a nice ball to Kelley O’Hara to the right of goal. O’Hara took a shot at goal but the ball sailed just wide of the net.
While the first chance of the game came on the right, the U.S. spent most of the first half attempting to break through on the left with Christen Press and Tobin Heath. The combination of those two created several opportunities leading up to the game’s opener.
The U.S. had a solid opportunity in the 32nd minute when Heath played the ball toward the back post from a short corner. Mewis made a run to the back post and was able to get her head on the ball but it went just over the crossbar, keeping the game scoreless.
In the 37th minute, the U.S. was finally able to break through and it was Mewis who did the damage. Lavelle found herself with the ball at midfield and played it to Mewis near the top of the box. The South Africa defense had crowded the box, creating vision problems for goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, a situation of which Mewis took advantage. The American midfielder fired a slightly curling shot from just outside the box which found its way past Dlamini for the game’s first goal.
The lone chance of the first half for South Africa came at the very end of the half. Only entering the U.S. half of the field with possession for the second time of the game, Sibulele Holweni attempted to catch American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher off her line. The ambitious attempt went wide though it appeared that Naeher would’ve gotten to it anyway.
The U.S. nearly doubled its lead in the 71st minute when a low corner found the foot of Allie Long. The substitute quickly fired on goal but Kaylin Swart, who had come on for the injured Dlamini, made a kick save to keep the deficit at one.
The second goal came in the 78th minute from an intelligent play by Megan Rapinoe. After being tripped up, Rapinoe took a quick free kick, allowing her to send a ball into the box. Swart got her hand on it but it bounced off of Mewis for her second goal of the game.
While the game was already out of reach, the U.S. added a third goal in injury time. A poor clearance from a Rapinoe cross ended up on the foot of Mallory Pugh. A quick touch forward allowed Lloyd to receive the ball and touch it past Swart for the third goal of the game.
While the game ended just 3-0, it could’ve been worse. The United States dominated with 70% possession and out-shot the South Africans 19-5. South Africa was happy to sit back and absorb the pressure, creating just two chances and three buildups over the 90 minutes.