Yanks Beat Costa Rica 4-0 Ahead of Rio Olympics
July 22, 2016
KANSAS CITY—In its final match before departing for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the United States women’s national team downed Costa Rica 4-0.
Head coach Jill Ellis made only one change from the lineup that started two weeks ago against South Africa, as captain Carli Lloyd returned to the first XI in place of Christen Press. Megan Rapinoe, still dealing with a calf injury, missed the gameday squad while Morgan Brian and Tobin Heath, both recovering from hamstring tweaks, made the bench after not dressing for the last game.
In the contest, the Americans earned the first dangerous opportunity in just the seventh minute of play. Alex Morgan put Crystal Dunn in behind the Costa Rican defense. The winger took a touch and fired but her shot ricocheted off the crossbar and away from danger.
The early chance then set off a flurry of American attacks. One minute after Dunn’s chance, the U.S. found itself with the upper hand again, as Lloyd latched on to a long pass out of the back. She found Morgan in front of goal, but the forward’s redirect went just wide. Then, in the ninth minute, Kelley O’Hara put Morgan in behind again. This time, Morgan rounded the keeper, but pushed her touch too wide to finish the chance.
In the 15th minute, the Americans finally made a chance count. Morgan slotted an overlapping Meghan Klingenberg in on goal. The defender looked up and played a pass across the face of the net for a streaking Dunn, who finished the chance to give the U.S. the early advantage.
Seven minutes later, Mallory Pugh doubled the Americans’ lead with a spectacular individual effort. Winning the ball near midfield, the youngster sprung forward down the left flank. At a tight angle, Pugh elected to take the shot herself, rather than center the ball for a teammate and her effort beat goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz to give the U.S. the 2-0 lead.
The next good chance of the contest came in the 35th minute, when Becky Sauerbrunn took a set piece near midfield. The Costa Rican defense left Morgan wide open, but her header went straight at the goalkeeper.
Then, only seconds before the halftime whistle, the U.S. tallied their third goal on a similar effort. After Kelley O’Hara earned a foul in stoppage time, Sauerbrunn stepped up to take the kick again and this time found Carli Lloyd in front of goal. The captain made no mistake and buried her header to give the Americans the 3-0 advantage headed into the locker room.
In the second stanza, the U.S. got off to another fast start. In the 49th minute of play, Carli Lloyd centered a ball for Lindsey Horan, who put her shot off the post. Three minutes later, Morgan missed another open header, this time directing her effort just wide off a beautiful service from Crystal Dunn down the left side of play.
In the 57th minute, Lloyd found Morgan making a diagonal run through the Costa Rican defense, but Morgan failed to capitalize. After receiving the ball and beating her defender, she fired straight at Diaz, who made the easy save.
After that, the match settled into a lull, before Press finally put the game away in the 79th minute. On the play, Allie Long slotted Press in with a deft pass between two defenders and the striker finished into the lower right corner to seal the result.
With the win, the Americans extended their record in 2016 to 14-0-1. The team's next match is against New Zealand in the first match of Olympic group play in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on August 3.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.