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USWNT 2021 Friendly: USA 1-0 Portugal - a positive result, but the team has some things to work on

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Like scoring goals, they should work on that

United States v Portugal - 2021 WNT Summer Series Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

The USWNT began its home stretch of preparation matches ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics against Portugal in Houston. The Americans were obvious favorites in the match and despite having some trouble with finishing, managed to eek out a win. In the end the Americans would create plenty of chances, but all but one was dealt with by Portugal as the game ended 1-0 thanks to a goal by Sam Mewis.

The Stars and Stripes lined up in a 4-3-3 with a big change in midfield as Julie Ertz is still recovering from a knee injury. In her place stepped Lindsey Horan to audition for the spot should Ertz not be fully recovered in time for Tokyo or if Vlatko Andonovski needs to rotate the no. 6 position.

Meanwhile, Portugal lined up in a 4-4-2 and tried to stay compact and well organized.

Gif of goal

Portugal would be a good test for the US as the Iberians managed to stay compact and stymie the attack as the USWNT dominated possession early. When the visitors did venture forward, they played quickly to forward Diana Silva in hopes of finding a goal on the break. The US would have some chances though could only force Ines into one save and in the end Portugal did an effective job of killing the half off and the teams went into the half at nil-nil.

As the second half began the Stars and Stripes came out with much higher energy and seemed to put more focus on counter pressing. Perhaps the best chance of the game came on a cross from Megan Rapinoe that found Alex Morgan who sept to meet the ball with her foot, but didn’t strike it cleanly and the ball kept not going into the net.

The second hydration break rolled around at the 70th minute and Emily Sonnett, Carli Lloyd, and Sofia Smith came on for Kelley O’Hara, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe.

The stalemate was finally broken as Sam Mewis headed in a near post corner from Christen Press.

Another change came as Crystal Dunn came off the field for Tierna Davidson.

Not long after, Carli Lloyd scored a goal off of a rebound on a free kick that Inez couldn’t hold onto. The striker did well to put it past the keeper, but she was called offside and it was disallowed.

In the 89th minute, Lynn Williams came on the pitch for Press for the Stars and Stripes last sub. The USA would have a few more chances on goal, but in the end, couldn’t find a second goal and the game ended 1-0.

Thoughts

The chances were there but the finishing was not. This is obviously good, it means players are getting into threatening positions, but could have had a few more goals in this one.

Give Portugal credit, the reasons teams play in the low block is that it’s effective.

Horan looked solid as the no. 6 and she’ll have plenty of time to settle into the role in the next few games.