U.S. Women's National Team
Yanks Crush T&T, 6-0, But There's Plenty of Drama
December 11, 2015
AFTER A CANCELLED MATCH in Hawaii this past weekend due to poor field conditions, the United States women’s national team resumed its Victory Tour on Thursday night with a 6-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago.
Carrying a 1-0 lead into halftime on a dubious penalty call, the Americans broke open the floodgates in the second stanza, adding five more tallies en route to a comprehensive win. Goals in the match were scored by Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Christen Press (3), and Lindsey Horan.
Here are three thoughts from the game.
VICTORY TOUR DRAMA CONTINUES
While the U.S. had originally planned a 10-game tour to celebrate its 2015 World Cup championship, the number of games dropped by one on Sunday when U.S. Soccer cancelled its opening match against Trinidad and Tobago due to poor field conditions at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
In the aftermath we learned that no one from the American federation had inspected the surface in Hawaii prior to the match being scheduled and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati later apologized, saying: “We screwed up. It won’t happen again.”
But bizarrely enough, the drama continued in San Antonio for the second friendly—this time involving a dispute between Trinidad and Tobago’s federation and its players.
Trinidad’s federation has long been amiss in supporting its team, but things hit a new low when the players threatened to boycott the match Wednesday night after not being paid. According to several sources, U.S. Soccer had to step into the void and provide a loan to ensure the match would be played.
I'm told @ussoccer had to step in and loan T&T Fed'n money so players would play. Rewind to WWC Qs & team arriving in US w no $. Yep.— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) December 11, 2015
However, even after kickoff, the controversy didn’t end as Trinidadian Lauryn Hutchinson went down with a non-contact knee injury only 16 minutes into the match. This raised even more questions about the safety of playing matches on artificial surfaces (eight of the U.S.’s Victory Tour matches were scheduled on field turf) and more specifically, the safety of the Alamodome’s turf—where Australian Kyah Simon tore her ACL in the U.S.’s last match in San Antonio.
As for the game itself, Trinidad and Tobago was severely outclassed (getting outshot 29-1) and many of its players struggled to keep up with the pace of the game, launching a series of late—and dangerous—tackles.
All of this begs the question: Should these types of games be played at all? Yes, they do raise money for the federation, but playing a badly outclassed opponent on an iffy surface is simply a recipe for disaster. It also inhibits what can be learned by the U.S. coaching staff only two months away from Olympic qualifying.
Why are they playing this game? I'm not really joking. If it's this hard to get a good field and this hard for T&T to get there, why do it?— Beau Dure (@duresport) December 11, 2015
LINDSEY HORAN IMPRESSED
When the starting lineup was announced Thursday evening, Jill Ellis’ choices raised more than a few eyebrows.
With the U.S. needing to find a replacement for retired midfielder Lauren Holiday and no heir apparent among the World Cup veterans, Ellis called in several center midfielders for this camp, including newcomers Danielle Colaprico and Rose Lavelle, as well as Sam Mewis—who has received a handful of caps in the past for the U.S.
However, on Thursday, Ellis decided to slot forward Lindsey Horan into the starting lineup as the U.S.’s No. 8—much to the chagrin of most U.S. fans and pundits.
Wanting Horan to replace Holiday? So are they just plugging people into spots now, counting to 11, and going "good enough"?— thrace (@thrace) December 11, 2015
Seeming to channel her inner-Klinsmann, Ellis appeared to be jamming another square-peg into a round-hole. But surprisingly enough, the experiment worked.
Yes, it was Trinidad and Tobago—and a split squad at that—but Horan was impressive in the role. She distributed extremely well from the back, finding seams along the flank with a series of well-placed cross-field passes. She also found the opportunity to slip Alex Morgan in behind the Trinidadian defense on more than one occasion.
Horan finished with two assists on the night and picked up a goal herself in stoppage time to cap off the win. Deservedly, she won Player of the Match honors.
This amazing dummy by Press sets up Horan's first career international goal in what was a phenomenal match for her. https://t.co/Y61u9y1WgI— Ryan Krasnoo (@RyanKras) December 11, 2015
WHERE HAS CHRISTEN PRESS BEEN?
In the summer of 2014, Christen Press became as close to an automatic starter as anyone gets on the U.S.’s exceptionally deep roster. She started 10 of the American’s last 14 matches to close out the year and started 11 of 12 matches to start off 2015, including the U.S.’s first two matches at the 2015 World Cup.
However, Press’ playing time dropped off significantly after that, playing only 44 minutes over the last five games of the 2015 World Cup and not appearing in any of the U.S.’s last three Victory Tour matches heading into San Antonio.
Despite all that, when Press did hit the field on Thursday, she quickly reminded everyone of what she brings to the table. In just 23 minutes against the Soca Warriors, Press scored a hat trick and opened her account with this terrific individual effort only two minutes after coming into the match.
HAT TRICK IN 23 MINUTES FOR CHRISTEN PRESS #23— jenny (@harrykanes) December 11, 2015
With Alex Morgan still not 100% back to form after a long series of injuries, Press made a pretty good case for more minutes in the No. 9 role with her performance on Thursday night.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.