The United States Women’s National Team had no trouble with Portugal in a 4-0 win in front of a record crowd of 49,504 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The attendance was a new record for a USWNT friendly and those who showed up for the second stop on the Victory Tour were treated to a win.
Only two matches in the 1996 Olympics and six games in the 1999 World Cup saw more fans in attendance for the USWNT.
Lloyd started at center forward with Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan (concussion protocol) out and Christen Press started for usual left wing Megan Rapinoe. Emily Sonnett played right back with both Kelley O’Hara and Ali Krieger unavailable. Adrianna Franch got a rare start in goal rather than Alyssa Naeher or Ashlyn Harris.
It took the Yanks just four minutes to find the net. After a few minutes of winning throw-ins along the right sideline, the ball got switched to the left side to Press. The Utah Royals’ star sent a perfect cross through the area that was just out of reach for Lloyd but Heath was there to steer it into the net for the 1-0 lead and her 32nd career international goal.
Heath thought she’d made it 2-0 at the 12-minute mark with a cheeky back-heel goal but she was correctly ruled offside on the play and it remained 1-0. Three minutes later, Lindsey Horan got a free header on Heath’s corner kick but slammed her shot just wide of the goal. Press shot from distance a minute later but goalkeeper Patricia Morais was able to scoop up the attempt for Portugal.
Lloyd nearly got in behind the defense in the 17th minute but she ran out of space and won a corner. That set piece led to the second U.S. goal. Brian got her head to the Press cross on the corner and nodded it down and past Morais, sending it into the net to make it 2-0 in the 18th minute.
It was Brian’s seventh career international goal but her first since 2016.
The game settled down a bit after that with the Portuguese getting forward more, although they couldn’t create much of a threat with the additional possession.
The USWNT nearly got its third in the 37th minute on a play that appeared to begin with an uncalled handball on Press. The ball was sent to Lloyd on the left who had a half step on the defense. Morais came off her line and Lloyd somehow squeezed the ball past her but without much pace. As it trickled toward the goal, one defender missed it but Joana Marchão made a goal-line clearance.
Horan volleyed a shot that came off a defender’s head off a cross from Sonnett in the 44th minute but hit her shot right at Morais, who saved and did well not to grab it before the U.S. could get a second shot.
That was it for the first half and the Yanks took their 2-0 lead into the locker room at the break. Other than a Jessica Silva shot wide of the target, the Portuguese created nothing in the half.
Crystal Dunn came on at halftime for the United States and nearly gifted Portugal a goal on her first touch. Her back pass to the goalkeeper had too little pace on it but Franch got to it just in the nick of time to prevent a scoring chance in the 46th minute.
Lloyd made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute. Second-half sub Jessica McDonald made a long throw-in from the left sideline. Horan elevated to flick it on through the box where Lloyd got onto it and feasted on the scraps, poking it home for her 115th career goal for the USWNT.
Portugal nearly pulled that goal right back. Tatiana Pinto sent a ball in behind and Portugal got numbers in the box for the first time in the game. The ball was worked through from right to left to Fatima Pinto, who fired but Franch made a good reaction save and the USWNT cleared the rebound.
Both teams made multiple subs around the hour mark, slowing the action.
Sam Mewis made a nice cutback pass into the box in the 62nd minute and McDonald dummied the ball through for Lloyd, but the captain was a bit slow to react to the unexpected play and Portugal cleared the danger.
Portugal won its first corner in the 65th minute. The U.S. cleared the ensuing cross out of the penalty area and Tatiana Pinto smashed a shot from distance over the goal.
McDonald made a beautiful move in the 68th minute to split three Portuguese defenders on the left side. She then cut into the penalty area and fired toward the back post. The ball beat Morais but hit the woodwork and the rebound skipped past Mallory Pugh as the chance evaporated. Crystal Dunn fired wide in the 71st minute as the U.S. continued to keep the pressure on.
Press thought she’d scored in the 78th minute. McDonald got down the right and scorched a cross that got through Morais, hit Press, and bounced into the goal. Unfortunately for Press, the ball hit her arm and the handball nullified what would have been the fourth goal. A minute later, Press smashed a shot from distance that drifted wide left.
The fourth goal came in the 82nd minute. Lloyd sent a cross into the area and Long cut in front of Morais to beat the goalkeeper to the ball, sending it into the net.
It was Press’ turn to hit the right goal post in the 86th minute. She took a pass in the area, made a nice move to switch feet and free herself up, then sent her shot off the outside of the woodwork.
Four minutes later, the match was over and the U.S. had improved to 16-1-2 in the 2019 calendar year and 8-0-0 in the all-time series against Portugal.
The U.S. dominated statistically as well as on the scoreboard, leading in shot attempts (18-4), shots on goal (8-2), corners (4-1), and possession (60%-40%) on a night in which a little more clinical finishing would have turned the match into an even more lopsided rout.
The Yanks and Portugal will do it all again in St. Paul, MN, on Tuesday night. If I have power and internet after Hurricane Dorian passes by, I’ll be happy to cover that one for you as well.