The United States are unbeaten in their last 98 home matches. They went into this game against Haiti reasonably expecting to make that 99.
They played like it too, coming at Haiti hard out of the gate, pressing quickly into their defensive third and earning a free kick just outside of the 18 in the first minute. Carli Lloyd opened the scoring in the 6', heading in a high cross from Crystal Dunn. For long minutes Haiti could do little else but scramble in their own box and boot out clearances. They pushed back here and there, earning their first corner in the 17', but for the most part they spent the first half dealing with the blue kits swarming their box, to limited effect.
Christen Press scored in the 33', once again off an assist by Crystal Dunn, who patiently worked the ball up the right flank through a series of give ‘n goes. Then a Haitian player went into Christen Press' legs in the box, earning a penalty call in the 37'. Carli Lloyd buried it calmly in the corner. The United States went into the locker room up 3-0.
The second half started in exactly the same way: high pressure from the United States, although not necessarily from good build-up play. There were some powerful shots, including a Carli Lloyd belter that shook the woodwork, but others directly at Haiti's goalkeeper Edny Limage.
Jill Ellis made an intriguing move in the 63' when she subbed in Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone, and Heather O'Reilly for Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, and Christen Press. With Rampone in the game, Ellis shifted Becky Sauerbrunn up in the midfield. Sauerbrunn was as adequate as she needed to be in the role, but she didn't have to be anything more than that. You got the sense that this was just Jill Ellis probing at the position to see if anything stood out, just as when she had Tobin Heath sit deeper and more centrally in the first half before letting her push back out to the wing.
The game also slowed down considerably as Haiti's players grew tired and began cramping, dropping to the field one after the other. (Of note, their preferred solution for cramps seems to be kicking each other in the heels, which is surely on par with "rub some dirt on it" as a method for dealing with injury.)
Carli Lloyd completed her hat trick in the 69' with yet another header, this time off a corner kick. Lloyd rose on the edges of the six-yard box and neatly looped the ball over Limage. Then Crystal Dunn closed out the game with a quick header off a sharp ball into the box, making it 5-0 in full time. It was Dunn's first international goal and a great end to a fairly active game from her.
CRYSTAL DUNN GOAL USWNT #USAvHAI https://t.co/7v9qaCpVyd— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) September 18, 2015
Against Haiti the US didn't have to do much but throw a flurry of random punches and hope that a few connected. There was precious little actual build-up play and not much proper finishing. The 5-0 scoreline was, with respect to Haiti, as much about the United States' inability to finish the ball as it was about Haiti's defending. For all that the US got into the box, they should be disappointed to only see five goals for their efforts.
Is it a bit ridiculous to be saying "only" five goals? Not really, not against Haiti, and not given what we just watched on the field. But players (except Abby Wambach, who is on perpetual vacation it seems) have been away with their clubs and could reasonably be expected to need to work out a few squeaky joints before the whole mechanism starts flowing smoothly again. No one got injured and Crystal Dunn made several new arguments for her inclusion in the Olympic qualifying roster. That's about as much as you can ask from a last-minute friendly against a much smaller opponent.
The United States next plays Haiti on September 20 at 2:30 PM ET at Legion Field in Birmingham.
USA starting XI: Hope Solo, Kelley O'Hara, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Crystal Dunn, Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan