The United States Women’s National Team ended a magical 2019 season with a 6-0 victory over Costa Rica at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the 2nd consecutive victory to start the tenure of newly hired head coach Vlatko Andonovski, and the Americans dominated from start to finish.
Once again, Andonovski opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Julie Ertz sitting back behind Morgan Brian and Rose Lavelle in the middle. The result of that was that Rose Lavelle had all the space in the world to slice through the Costa Rican defense like a warm knife through butter. Just 4 minutes into the match, Lavelle won a loose ball from a set of Costa Rican defenders and sent a long through ball to the left side and a streaking Carli Lloyd. A deflection by a Costa Rican defender allowed the ball to sit right at Lloyd’s feet, who finished it with an arching shot into the right side of the net for the match’s opening goal.
Just 6 minutes later, Rose Lavelle created some magic again, streaking down the middle of the field on the break and drawing two defenders before laying off a perfect ball to a streaking Morgan Brian on the left. Brian had a clean finish, and it was 2-0 USWNT.
The Ticos did apply some pressure after that, creating a couple chances on the other end. However, the American defense snuffed out any attempts pretty quickly. Christen Press also had some great opportunities on the other end, with a shot in the 31st minute just missing the back of the net. The USWNT had a chance to make it 3-0 before the halftime whistle after shaky play from Costa Rican goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez caused her to try and clear the ball. It was blocked by Tobin Heath just inside the box, but she didn’t get enough of the ball to send it onto the net, and it was flicked away. The USWNT would enter the half up 2-0.
The second half began with 3 subs: Arianna Franch for Ashlyn Harris, Lynn Williams for Carli Lloyd, and Andi Sullivan for Becky Sauerbrunn. Lynn Williams would go on to put on a show for the Jacksonville crowd. In the 50th minute, Tobin Heath had the ball on the break and sent an incredible through ball to Williams, who shifted to her right to create some space and slotted home the game’s 3rd goal.
In the 56th minute, the two would connect again on a scoring opportunity. This time, Williams laid the ball off for Christen Press, who had an open finish the she toed low off the right post and out. Press was not to be denied, seconds later collecting the ball after it bounced back into the box, made a move to free herself, and then calmly finished a shot into the left side of the net to make it 4-0.
Lynn Williams had another hard shot just 3 minutes after that that was parried away by Bermudez. Williams was routinely causing problems for the Costa Rican backline, and was consistently a threat to score.
Michelle Herrera had Costa Rica’s best chances on the night, a 62nd minute shot that slammed off the crossbar over the outstretched hand of Franch and sailed away and an opportunity later on that Franch knocked onto the crossbar and away. Still, most of the action was the USWNT on the attack, led by Rose Lavelle in the middle and Tobin Heath and Lynn Williams up front. In the 63rd minute, the USWNT would make its final 3 subs of the evening: Mallory Pugh for Tobin Heath, Jessica McDonald for Christen Press, and Allie Long for Morgan Brian. In the 68th minute, Emily Sonnett collected the ball on the left wing and sent a right footed shot towards the far post. Jessica McDonald fought off a Costa Rican defender to head it down onto the ground, where Lynn Williams smashed a half volley off the underside of the crossbar and into the net for a brace and a 5-0 lead.
Rose Lavelle showed more wizardry in the 78th minute, working the ball into the right side of the box and taking a Costa Rican defender to the cleaners with a spin move to free herself. She sent in a low ball to the middle of the box, which glanced off the foot of a surprised Lynn Williams before being kicked away by the Costa Rican goalkeeper, Noelia Bermúdez.
In the 86th minute, the USWNT added their final goal of the night when a Margaret Purce cross was deflected high in the air off the foot of Stephanie Blanco and into the left side of the net for an own goal. Even as the clock entered 2nd half stoppage time, RLavelle was still slicing through the Costa Rican defense, sending in a cross that almost fell right at the feet of Mallory Pugh before it was sent out for a corner kick. That was the final opportunity for the USWNT, as the whistle sounded on the match and an incredible 2019.
The USWNT finished with 17 shots (7 on target) to 6 shots (2 on target) for the Ticos. The USWNT will see them again when Olympic qualifying begins in late January in Houston. For now, the USWNT finish 2019 with a 20-1-3 record…and a nice Women’s World Cup trophy.