Starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Ali Krieger, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Tierna Davidson, Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis, Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press
On first glance for the starting lineup, it’s definitely a starting XI able to win against Belgium, and it’s also mix of players getting put in familiar positions. Julie Ertz at center back, Crystal Dunn and Samantha Mewis in the midfield, Christen Press at forward. Also Ali Krieger at right back! After a long absence. Giving us all a small taste of what used to be, when back in 2015 Krieger, Sauerbrunn, and Ertz were part of fierce four back anchored by Hope Solo.
The small reminder seemed fitting on a night that was honoring the 1999 World Cup winning team complete with legends like Briana Scurry, Julie Foudy, and Mia Hamm. Hamm is part of an ownership group of LAFC and the organization has expressed interest in possible NWSL team in the future. With a filled arena of over 20k, soccer legends, and celebrities of all kinds - the Banc of California stadium provided an exciting backdrop of what many believe Women’s Soccer can be - Thriving, Supported, and Successful.
U.S. set the tone in from the opening whislte as Belgium tried to play their ball into the final thrid from kickoff. but Krieger defended the ball away for a corner that was cleared away to Christen Press. Press was there with a cross into the far post. Combination of Press, Lloyd and Dunn kept pressure on Belgium as the team kept much of the ball and play in Belgium’s half. Belgium fouling early gave opportunity for free kicks, all while USA continued to connect their passes and build their play.
The goal scoring onslaught for the evening would begin at the 14th minute, as Lloyd was fouled and a free kick was awarded. Lloyd would score a header on the set piece.
She lives for the big stage.@CarliLloyd with her first of 2019! pic.twitter.com/4je2sf6bGJ— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2019
As USWNT remained aggressive, a short corner from Tierna Davidson was defended away. While Belgium tried to counter, Krieger’s positioning disrupted the counter from Belgium. Offensive pressure from the U.S. continued to build up the left side as Davidson found herself providing service from the flank despite no one being able to get on the end of them.
Luck would change in the 20th minute as Dunn took the ball endline and crossed the ball in to a waiting Carli Lloyd in the box, it would be her second goal on the night.
She's just built different.@CarliLloyd AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/dmv0LD183s— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2019
U.S. found themselves attacking along the right as they won a corner in the 26th minute that Horan would convert into goal, making it 3-0 over Belgium.
LOUD NOISES‼️— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2019
3 goals on 3 headers. pic.twitter.com/1Dtimso2PC
Pugh quckly tried a shot of her own in the 28th minute but her chance was saved, and as the 30th minute struck, a rotation of players shifted things. Ertz was moved into the midfield, Davidson into center back, and Dunn dropped down into left back.
The change didn’t alter the tempo of the match at all as USA found themselves quickly scoring another goal in the 32nd minute. Sam Mewis converted on a free kick to make it 4-0 over Belgium.
AIR GAME TOO STRONG.@sammymewy gets in on the fun. pic.twitter.com/fmLSzVhcAm— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2019
As halftime approached, Press tried to make it 5-0 but her shot in the final minutes, and a pair of Free Kick for USA ended the first half. All four goals were scored as headers, shout out to Michelle Akers.
The second half brought on several subs. Ashlyn Harris on for Alyssa Naeher, with Crystal Dunn and Julie Ertz made way for Alex Moran and Abby Dahlkemper. USA wasted no time getting back into their attack as Press had a chance on goal that was saved.
Two minutes later USWNT would go up by 5 goals as Lloyd playing wide screened a pass through to Morgan who scored on goal beating the keeper far post. 5-0, poor Belgium.
Workin' on her next hundred.@alexmorgan13 gets No. 1️⃣0️⃣1️⃣! pic.twitter.com/Jm8DLOPcaQ— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2019
Additional subs in the 60th minute for Horan and Pugh as Allie Long and Jessica McDonald came into the match. Despite a long stretch without goals, USA remained dominant in possession and creating chances.
Lloyd would find Morgan again in the 63rd minute, although her shot was saved. While Press remained vital to the attack taking set pieces and having a shot of her own go just wide in the 69th minute.
A substitution for Mewis in the 73rd minute allowed McCall Zerboni to help finish a match that was all but done, and yet it was during this time that Belgium found themselves trying to create a chance of their own.
A Belgium corner was initially cleared was played back in, which led to a shot that was off the post in a small moment during the 79th minute. Shortly after the ball was in play again, Belgium had an opportunity on a header of their own that was over the bar and ultimately had Harris checking her teammates.
In the winding minutes of the match, Morgan fed a ball through to McDonald who simply needed to redirect the ball in to net, but the trajectory of her touch sent the ball wide. McDonald would get another chance in stoppage time thanks to Press who served in a final free kick that was headed into goal. A 6-0 goal fest over Belgium.
Head start. Head finish.@J_Mac1422 with our fifth header! pic.twitter.com/dIJjr6QXyJ— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2019
It should be noted that Belgium is not as highly ranked, and possibly not considered a competitive challenge for the U.S. Ultimately this match can be viewed as fuel for confidence, especially after beating a number 6 ranked Australia 5-3, last Thursday.
5 header goals, one left footed goal from Morgan, Lloyd all over the place, and a 3 assist night for Press. Not a bad way to start off the week.