Sam Mewis Leads Charge as Yanks Score Six in Shutout
October 22, 2017
THE UNITED STATES women’s national team wrapped up its two-game series against South Korea on Sunday with a 6-0 victory in Cary, North Carolina.
Sam Mewis, who plays her club ball for the North Carolina Courage, scored twice in front of her home fans in the first half. Her first tally came in the third minute when she smashed home a powerful header off an Abby Dahlkemper corner kick. Then, in the 20th minute, she picked up another when South Korean goalkeeper Kang Gaae could only parry away a Lindsey Horan service into the area. Mewis, lurking near the penalty spot, made no mistake with the rebound opportunity and doubled the Americans lead.
Christen Press added a third goal for the U.S. in the 35th minute. While Press struggled to get involved for most of the half, she made the most of her chance, picking up a pass from Alex Morgan outside the box and curling a 20-yard effort into the upper 90.
The floodgates open, Julie Ertz added another goal just before the half on another U.S. corner kick—her fifth tally in the last six games. In the second stanza, Lynn Williams and Allie Long also found the back of the net to round out the comprehensive win.
The match marked the sixth straight win for the Americans since implementing a 4-3-3, a formation they have looked increasingly comfortable in. The attack, no longer bereft of ideas, pressured the ball high, won back possession quickly, strung together tight passing combinations in the midfield, and capitalized on its set pieces. The winning streak has also come amid a solid slate of games as head coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer have increasingly strengthened the American schedule. In the last six games, the U.S. has beaten No. 8 Japan, No. 9 Brazil, No. 15 South Korea (twice), and No. 19 New Zealand (twice).
U.S. fans should be happy to see Williams tally on Sunday. The striker saw a bit of a dip in goal-scoring form in 2017, picking up nine goals for her club this season after winning the National Women’s Soccer League’s Golden Boot in 2016. Williams troubled South Korea in both October friendlies, repeatedly getting in behind and forcing its backline into mistakes with her high pressing.
However, in both contests, Williams also struggled with the technical side of the game, wasting numerous chances through both poor touches and poor decisions. The forward possesses world-class speed and can be a real asset for the Americans but she needs to be more efficient in the attacking third with her chances to compete for minutes on a full-strength U.S. squad.
Sunday’s match against South Korea also represented a number of firsts for the Stars and Stripes. Sofia Huerta earned her first start for the U.S. and McCall Zerboni earned her first cap.
Huerta now has three appearances with the U.S., and while she normally plays as a forward and winger for her club, she has played every game with the Americans at right back. Against South Korea, Huerta formed a strong combination with Williams on the right flank and repeatedly overlapped into the attack to provide service in the attacking third.
Thus far, Huerta has played well for the U.S., but has seen almost all of her action in the attacking phases of play. She has yet to be truly tested in her defensive responsibilities in the new position.
Zerboni, 30, became the oldest player to earn a first cap with the U.S. The North Carolina Courage midfielder is a rare breed in women’s soccer—she has managed to maintain a lengthy professional career without a national team contract and has hit career form later in her career than the vast majority of players.
This season Zerboni earned NWSL Best XI honors and helped lead her team to a second consecutive championship game. While not called into camp as part of the original roster, Ellis brought her in for late cover when Mallory Pugh left the team after suffering a hamstring injury in Thursday’s friendly and Andi Sullivan returned to Stanford.
The U.S. next plays fifth-ranked Canada on November 9 in Vancouver.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.