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USA vs. Portugal, International Friendly: Final Score 3-0 as Carli Lloyd’s Brace Leads Yanks

Lloyd’s brace set the tone for another U.S. win on the Victory Tour.

Soccer: U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Victory Tour-Portugal at USA Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Carli Lloyd’s first-half brace set the tone and Lindsey Horan added a late goal as the United States Women’s National Team defeated Portugal 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,600 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, MN. It was the 16th consecutive win for the USWNT, which improved to 9-0-0 in the all-time series against Portugal and 17-1-2 in the 2019 calendar year. Portugal still has never scored a goal against the United States.

There are now just two matches left in the U.S. World Cup Victory Tour and also only two games remaining in Jill Ellis’ tenure as the manager of the world champions.

Ellis, who equaled Tony DiCicco’s U.S. record of 105 wins, went with pretty much the same lineup as last Thursday with the exceptions of starting Jessica McDonald at left win in place of Christen Press, Sam Mewis in the midfield for Horan, Crystal Dunn at left back for Tierna Davidson, and Alyssa Naeher in goal in place of Adrianna Franch. Alex Morgan has reportedly cleared concussion protocol but experienced a flare-up in her knee.

The USWNT controlled the first half and Portugal struggled to even get out of its own defensive third. The U.S. press was relentless and the Portuguese couldn’t string multiple passes together without turning it over. Still, the U.S. struggled to put the final ball together.

The first good opportunity came at the 18-minute mark when Abby Dahlkemper’s gorgeous long ball fell perfectly for Lloyd but the captain fired wide of the right post. But it only took four more minutes for Lloyd to open the scoring.

Lloyd’s initial shot was saved by Inês Pereira at point-blank range and popped out to McDonald, who had her shot blocked right back to Lloyd for the easy finish.

The lead nearly doubled two minutes later when Tobin Heath’s corner kick found McDonald in front but her header hit off the crossbar. In the 29th minute both Mewis and Heath saw shots on the left side saved by Pereira.

In the 31st minute the Yanks caught a break that allowed Lloyd to double the lead. Heath was taken down at the top of the area and a penalty was signaled although the replay indicated the foul may have been more accurately committed just inches outside the box. Without VAR in the game, there was no way to take a second look and Lloyd finished from the spot to make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.

Lloyd had two decent chances to complete her hat trick before halftime. The first was sent wide after a ball bounced off McDonald to her in the box. In the 40th minute she attempted a chip shot into the far corner that didn’t have enough on it.

A couple of airmailed Morgan Brian attempts later and the first half ended with the USWNT ahead, 2-0.

Christen Press came on as one of the four halftime subs and nearly scored immediately. Just five minutes after the restart she was played into the area and fired but Pereira stuck out her foot to keep it out.

Two minutes later the ball found Press at the top of the area and she murdered it on goal but hit it right at Pereira, who fought it off. McDonald followed with her second header off the crossbar in the game.

In the 62nd minute it was Horan’s turn to smash a shot off the crossbar. Four minutes later Horan sent a shot well over the bar on another good opportunity.

From that point on, the majority of the match was played between the penalty areas, with the U.S. in firm control but not able to generate much of an opportunity at a third goal. Kristen Hamilton made her USWNT debut in the 76th minute, entering the game for McDonald.

Hamilton won a late corner kick and it turned into the third goal for the U.S. Press took the corner kick and fizzed her cross into the area for Horan to smash home with her head, making it 3-0 in the 83rd minute.

The final minutes were fairly uneventful and the U.S. saw out its second win over Portugal in less than a week.

The USWNT will be back in action Oct. 3 and 6 against South Korea in Charlotte and Chicago, respectively.