USWNT Recap and Analysis

In final World Cup tune-up, USWNT rolls past Mexico 3-0 at Red Bull Arena

The United States will head to France on a positive note after winning its final World Cup sendoff game in convincing fashion with a 3-0 win over Mexico in New Jersey. ASN's John Halloran is here with his report. 
BY John Halloran Posted
May 26, 2019
4:00 PM
IN ITS LAST game before the 2019 World Cup begins, the United States women’s national team downed Mexico 3-0 in Harrison, New Jersey.

Head coach Jill Ellis fielded a first-choice lineup in the match, with the only possible departure being a start for Sam Mewis over Lindsey Horan. However, several outlets reported that the team and Ellis are managing Horan’s workload—as she comes off a recent thigh injury.

The Americans started the contest quickly, creating numerous chances early in the first half. In the 11th minute, they broke through for the opener when Tobin Heath picked off a sloppy pass out of the back, beat a defender, and tucked her effort nicely into the side netting.

However, after that, the American attack—still creating plenty of chances—failed to add to the scoreline. In the 29th minute, Crystal Dunn put a gorgeous service in from the flank, but Alex Morgan couldn’t finish it.

Four minutes after that, Rose Lavelle took a ball out of the air with a fantastic touch and put Heath in on goal, but the winger couldn’t make her opportunity count. A minute later, Julie Ertz blocked a Mexican effort to set up an American counterattack and Megan Rapinoe put Morgan in on a breakaway. However, Mexican goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago made the stop on Morgan’s effort.

Twice in the final minute of the half, Dunn had two more chances to give the U.S. another goal, but Santiago made two more great reaction saves to keep both attempts out of her net. The teams went into the locker room at the half with the Americans only holding a 1-0 lead.

To begin the second half, Ellis elected to make five substitutions and the new-fangled lineup appeared disjointed. Ellis also moved Heath to left back, an idea she also tried during the U.S.’ ill-fated run in the 2016 Olympics.

One of the subs at the half was Carli Lloyd, who made the largest impact of the second-half replacements. Only three minutes into the half, Horan found Lloyd in behind the Mexican backline and all alone with Santiago. Lloyd rounded the netminder and got off a shot on frame, but a recovering defender managed to keep the ball out of the net.

Eventually, however, it was Lloyd again who finally added to the American lead. On the wing, Lloyd beat her defender to the endline and laid a quick pass into a flurry of traffic in front of the net. Mallory Pugh appeared to get the final touch as the ball ended up in Mexico’s goal.

Then, only two minutes from time, Christen Press sealed the game. Picking up a loose ball near the top of the 18, she brought the ball over to her left foot and fired in a perfectly placed effort into the side of the net.

Overall, the match proved to be unexpectedly close. Mexico fielded a weakened and largely inexperienced lineup, while the U.S. trotted out a near first-choice XI. In the first half, Morgan and Heath missed a number of chances and Heath uncharacteristically misfired on the vast majority of her services from the flank.

In the second half, the Americans’ mass substitutions created a lackluster attack that never quite found its footing. The defense—which had played superbly, though largely untested—through the first 45 minutes, even leaked a handful of half chances to the Mexican side in the second stanza when the game was still only 1-0.

How this will affect the team next month in France, however, will probably prove negligible. The U.S. opens the tournament against two relative minnows in Thailand and Chile and will likely have no trouble dispatching both with ease.

John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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