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USA vs. Haiti, Olympic Qualifying: Final Score 4-0 as Sloppy Yanks Pull Away in Second Half

The USWNT played a bit of a stinker but did enough to get a comfortable win in the team’s Olympic qualifying opener.

Soccer: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying-Haiti at USA Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not a game that U.S. fans will want to save forever on their DVR, but the United States Women’s National Team managed a 4-0 win over Haiti at BBVA Stadium in Houston to open the team’s Olympic qualifying campaign. Goals from Christen Press, Lynn Williams, Lindsey Horan, and Carli Lloyd lifted the Yanks to a win despite a sloppy and uninspiring performance.

Megan Rapinoe came off the bench to provide two assists.

Vlatko Andonovski did not start any of the three Orlando Pride players on the roster in his first competitive match as USWNT coach, going with a mostly first-choice squad (minus Alex Morgan, who remains out due to pregnancy). Alyssa Naeher started in net behind a back four of Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, and Kelley O’Hara. The midfield consisted of Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, and Rose Lavelle, with Williams, Lloyd, and Press up top.

It took the USWNT about 78 seconds to open the scoring. Williams lost a shoe but still got to the end line and crossed into the area for Press to easily tap home for a 1-0 lead in the second minute.

After that early goal, the teams mostly just played the ball back and forth in the air. The U.S. refused to just settle the ball and pass it around and Haiti was happy to play an aerial game.

Mikerline Saint Felix tried a shot from extreme long distance in the 17th minute and Naeher fought it off. The U.S. keeper was unable to play it cleanly and conceded a corner which should have led to a Haiti goal. Roseline Eloissaint nodded in the corner kick service a minute later and it appeared Haiti had tied the game but the flag was up. Either way, it was horrible marking by the USWNT and no one was on the back post for the easy stop.

Mewis sent a free header over the bar in the 21st minute off a U.S. corner. The USWNT didn’t look sharp and missed numerous opportunities to send in attackers by overcooking passes and finding only the Haitian goalkeeper. Mewis saw her header in the 32nd minute blocked by the defense and Lloyd followed with a spinning shot that sailed just high and wide of goal.

Lloyd had a late chance in the first half on which she really should have scored. She played a ball on the volley and sent it just a foot or so wide but was unmarked and had a lot of net to shoot at. The United States took its slim (and fortunate) 1-0 lead into the break after a sloppy and sometimes ugly opening 45 minutes.

You would think the second half would have been better but you of course are wrong and, like Jon Snow, you know nothing. The USWNT did seem to get forward more but did little with it until the 59th minute, when Press cleared herself for a left-footed shot and forced a good save by Haitian goalkeeper Kerly Theus. The U.S. recycled back in and Williams headed just wide.

The game finally broke “normal” after Rapinoe subbed on for Press in the second half. Shortly after her introduction she fizzed a corner cross through the box and Williams — easily the best player in the match on this night — hardly had to move to head it home for a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute.

Lavelle forced a nice save from Theus in the 69th minute on a rocket shot from the top of the area. Four minutes later, the second U.S. sub made an impact — also on a corner, played short to Rapinoe this time — when Horan nodded it in for a 3-0 lead in the 73rd.

Lloyd added a fourth in stoppage time off an Ertz cross to make it 4-0, finishing things off. It was the closest score in the history of the series, but the USWNT still improved to 7-0-0 against Haiti.

The U.S. stands second in the group after the first match day, as Costa Rica pounded Panama 6-1 earlier in the day, so the Ticos have a slim goal differential advantage. The top two teams in the group will advance to the knockout rounds.

Orlando Pride defender Emily Sonnett replaced O’Hara late in the game for Andonovski’s third and final substitution. Neither Ali Krieger nor Ashlyn Harris made an appearance but with a quick turnaround, both could be in the lineup on Friday.

The USWNT will be back in action on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. against Panama — again in Houston.