Tonight: The NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off
The NWSL season begins with a rematch of last year's Challenge Cup title game.
United States 2, Netherlands 0
Rose Lavelle (Christen Press), 41’
Kristie Mewis (Lynn Williams), 70’
A grueling 261 days have passed since the U.S. women’s national team last took the pitch. As you may imagine, Friday afternoon’s friendly was widely anticipated for more reasons than one — yes, the match marked the long-awaited return of the USWNT, but even more thrilling was the opportunity to witness a rematch of last year’s World Cup Final between the U.S. and the Netherlands.
The game took place in Rat Verleigh Stadium in Breda, with the U.S. once again winning comfortably by a score of 2-0 thanks to goals from Rose Lavelle and Kristie Mewis.
Prior to the match, USWNT players released a statement on their social media accounts, highlighting what an honor it was to represent America and that it was their subsequent duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms that the country was founded upon be extended to everyone. As the national anthem played, each USWNT player donned a pullover with the message “Black Lives Matter,” with a majority of players taking a knee to further convey their stance against racial injustice.
“Today, we wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people,” the statement read. “We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team. As the United States Women’s National team players, we collectively work toward a society where the American ideals are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systemically targeted.”
Here’s how the action unfolded:
The United States wasted no time after the opening whistle blew. With only one minute gone in the first half, Tobin Heath took the ball to the goal line, slotting a cross intended for Lynn Williams who made herself available in the box. Despite Williams’ best attempt to get a foot on the ball, her line of sight was restricted by the Dutch defense, leading to the demise of a near chance for the Americans. Later, in the 18th minute, Williams would take advantage of another scoring chance, curving a shot from outside the eighteen that sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 29th minute, Tobin Heath slipped a through ball to Christen Press, who utilized her quick footwork to beat Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and score what would have been the go-ahead goal the U.S. had been desperately working towards. Unfortunately, Press was called offside by what seemed a mere step, and the goal was scratched, maintaining the 0-0 deadlock.
The deadlock would not last much longer, however, as Christen Press placed a ball into the path of Rose Lavelle, who neatly cut the ball to her left foot, rendering Dutch defender Dominique Bloodworth off balance. Lavelle then ripped a shot from just inside the eighteen and into the upper ninety, scoring her third national team goal of the year to put the United States up 1-0 as the first half wound to a close. (Hopefully Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor took note of how lethal Lavelle can be when she plays in her actual position.)
Her goal even received a nod from the FA Women’s Super League:
The hero of the second half was none other than Kristie Mewis, who returned to the pitch for the U.S. women’s national team for the first time since 2014 after a standout year with the Houston Dash. Replacing Rose Lavelle in the 60th minute, Mewis made an instant impact — in the form of receiving a through ball from Lynn Williams in stride, taking a few touches and scoring her second-ever national goal to give the United States a 2-0 advantage through 70 minutes of play.
First to congratulate her on such an achievement? Her younger sister Sam, of course. Let’s add watching the Mewis duo in action to the list of things to look forward to next year, shall we?
Finally, in what was nearly an astounding finish in an already-incredible performance for the United States, Midge Purce set Alex Morgan up just outside the eighteen. In a showcase of her skill on the ball, Morgan slipped the ball past Veenendaal and into the net, scoring her first goal since her return to play following the birth of her daughter.
However, Morgan’s goal met a similar fate to that of Christen Press’ earlier in the match and was called offsides, restricting the United States’ lead to two goals.
As the clock wound down, the Dutch worked desperately to cut the United States’ lead in half, but no dice, as the States secured yet another 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, matching the score of last year’s World Cup Final.
Given that the USWNT has not played a match together in over eight months, both the win and team performance in the friendly show immense promise for the future — not to mention both goals came from players who could be serious contributors next year and thereafter.
Though it’s uncertain exactly when we will get to see the U.S. women’s national team take the field again, it was refreshing to witness a team beloved by so many indicate that they are ready to pick up right where they left off — by cementing their status as the best in the world.
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