LOS ANGELES (April 7, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team came out firing on all cylinders, blanking Belgium 6-0 in front of 20,941 fans at Banc of California Stadium to continue its preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer. It was the USA’s first-ever meeting with Belgium.
The first four U.S. goals all came via headers, three from set plays. The USA opened the scoring in the 14th minute via a header from Carli Lloyd, followed shortly after by a second headed goal from Lloyd in the 19th minute. It was Lloyd’s first multi-goal game since she scored a hat trick vs. Panama during World Cup qualifying last October.
Worrying sight: For as many memorable images as there were on Sunday, one worrisome sight was Lavelle making her way off the field with the assistance of crutches. Without specifying the injury, Ellis said Lavelle suffered a \”knock\” in training the day before the game and was ruled out as a result. It might well just be a case of discretion, with no need to force the issue in a meaningless game. But for a player who both has the potential to be such a dynamic creative player and has a history of lingering injuries, it was a frustrating end to this stretch.
Midfielders Lindsey Horan and Samantha Mewis added goals in the first half as the USA dominated the match form start to finish, ultimately out-shooting Belgium 17-4 while not allowing a shot on goal.
USA v. Belgium: Live stream, game time, TV schedule, how to watch
U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis made three subs to start the second half with forward Alex Morgan, defender Abby Dahlkemper and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris all coming on. Fresh off her 100th career goal, Morgan found the net yet again to make it 5-0 in the 50th minute as she roofed her shot from a tight angle off a world class assist from Lloyd. Jessica McDonald added the final strike on one last header in stoppage time to cement the 6-0 win.
At halftime of today’s match, U.S. Soccer honored the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team with a tribute video and individual player recognition to celebrate their historic title 20 summers ago that forever changed the landscape for not only women’s soccer in the United States but women’s sports globally.
Up Next: The WNT players return to their NWSL clubs before gathering in early May to embark on the three-game Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods. The USA will face South Africa on May 12 in Santa Clara, California at Levi’s Stadium (1:30 p.m. PT; FOX), continue on to St. Louis for a test against New Zealand at Busch Stadium on May 16 (7 p.m. CT; ESPN2) and finish up the Send-Off Series vs. Mexico at Red Bull Arena on May 26 in Harrison, N.J. (Noon ET; ESPN, UDN).
Goal Scoring Rundown: USA – Carli Lloyd (Tierna Davidson), 14th minute: The USA opened the scoring on a world class header from Lloyd via a free kick that Davidson sent into the penalty area from about 50 yards out. Lloyd judged the incoming ball perfectly and out-jumped Heleen Jaques to nod the ball on a bounce into the right corner from eight yards out for her 106th career goal. USA 1, BEL 0. WATCH.
USA – Carli Lloyd (Crystal Dunn), 19th minute: Lloyd doubled the U.S. lead just five minutes later – once again off a header. This time the goal came from the run of play as Crystal Dunn, playing as a midfielder tonight, did well to work her way free of a defender on the left flank and hit a cross into the six-yard box. This time Lloyd out-jumped Laura De Neve to spin her header into the right side of the net for her 107th career goal, tying Michelle Akers for fourth on the USAs all-time goals list. USA 2, BEL 0. WATCH.
USA – Lindsey Horan (Christen Press), 26th minute: The USA’s third goal came off a corner kick from the right side as Christen Press sent an in-swinger into the penalty area. Horan stepped in front of Lloyd and out-jumped Chloe Vande Velde to loop her header into the right side of the net from nine yards out. USA 3, BEL 0. WATCH.
USA – Samantha Mewis (Christen Press), 33rd minute: The USAs fourth goal – the fourth consecutive score off a header – came from a set play. Press chipped the ball into the penalty area from 40 yards out and it was met in right side of the box by the six-foot Mewis, who sent a looping header across the goal and into the lower left corner from eight yards out for her first score of the year. USA 4, BEL 0. WATCH.
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd), 52nd minute: Morgan came on at halftime and seven minutes later scored her 101st career goal in front of her hometown crowd. She did well to bring down a chipped pass on the left side and then deftly played Lloyd through down the wing. Morgan continued her run and Lloyd cleverly back-heeled a pass between two defenders. It went directly into the path of Morgan who raced in on goal and smashed her left-footed shot from the edge of the six-yard box into the roof of the net from a tight angle. USA 5, BEL 0. WATCH.
USA – Jessica McDonald (Christen Press), 90+1: The U.S. won a free kick 30 yards from the left side of Belgium’s goal. Press measured a perfect cross to the top of the six-yard box that set McDonald up for a flicked header over the onrushing goalkeeper and into the center of the vacated net. USA 6, BEL 0. WATCH. FINAL.
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Belgium Date: April 7, 2019 Competition: International Friendly Venue: Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif. Kickoff: 6 p.m. PT Attendance: 20,941 Weather: 70 degrees; Partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F USA 4 2 6 BEL 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (Tierna Davidson) 14th minute USA – Carli Lloyd (Crystal Dunn) 19 USA – Lindsey Horan (Christen Press) 26 USA – Samantha Mewis (Christen Press) 33 USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd) 52 USA – Jessica McDonald (Christen Press) 90+1
Lineups: USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher (24-Ashlyn Harris, 46); 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 8-Julie Ertz (7-Abby Dahlkemper, 46), 12-Tierna Davidson; 9-Lindsey Horan (20-Allie Long, 60), 19-Crystal Dunn (13-Alex Morgan, 46), 3-Samantha Mewis (25-McCall Zerboni, 73); 22-Mallory Pugh (26-Jessica McDonald, 61), 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 23-Christen Press Substitutes not used: 2-Emily Sonnett, 17-Tobin Heath Head coach: Jill Ellis
BEL: 21-Nicky Evrard; 2-Davina Philtjens (5-Shari Van Belle, 59), 4-Heleen Jaques (17-Maud Coutereels, 59), 6-Tine De Caigny (3-Ella Van Kerkhoven, 80), 9-Tessa Wullaert (capt.), 11-Janice Cayman, 18-Laura De Neve, 19-Chloé Vande Velde (13-Elena Dhont, 46), 20-Julie Biesmans, 22-Laura Deloose (16-Sarah Wijnants, 85), 23-Kassandra Missipo (8-Lenie Onzia, 86) Substitutes not used: 1-Justien Odeurs, 12-Lisa Lichtfus, 14-Davinia Vanmechelen Head coach: Ives Serneels
Stats Summary: USA / BEL Shots: 17 / 4 Shots on Goal: 8 / 0 Saves: 0 / 2 Corner Kicks: 4 / 2 Fouls: 6 / 10 Offside: 1 / 2
\”I know that shes worked incredibly hard,\” Morgan said recently of her teammate with the NWSLs Orlando Pride and now again with the U.S.. \”And just playing with her day in and day out, she is like the heart and soul of Orlando. So coming here, I feel like she just brought so much energy and excitement, and the team just welcomed her with open arms.\”
Misconduct Summary: USA – Carli Lloyd (caution) 64th minute BEL – Maud Coutereels (caution) 90
Officials: Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA) Assistant Referee 1: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA) Assistant Referee 2: Felisha Mariscal (USA) 4th Official: Karen Abt (USA)
The Americans steamrolled a far inferior Belgian team 6-0 on Sunday night, despite coach Jill Ellis putting out an experimental lineup that featured many players that will likely be back-ups this summer in France.
Carli Lloyd, the World Cup hero from four years ago who has seen her minutes dwindle drastically in the past two years, led the way with a brace in one of the USWNTs final friendlies before this summers tournament.
In her first start since November, Lloyd opened scoring 14th minute, rising up to head a ball from Tierna Davidson and towering over defender Heleen Jaques.
She scored a similar goal five minutes later, getting on the end of a cross from Crystal Dunn and nodding it home.
Lindsey Horan joined in the barrage of headers in the 26th minute off a cross from Christen Press to triple the score. Then Samantha Mewis, the tallest field player the USWNT has ever had at 5 feet, 11 inches, added a header of her own seven minutes later.
With a slew of lineup changes at halftime, Alex Morgan came on and quickly made an impact, running onto a ball from Lloyd and rifling past goalkeeper Nicky Evra.
Megan Rapinoe started and scored against Australia, but was subbed off due to calf soreness. It is likely she gets rested tonight. Allie Long, meanwhile, was a late defensive sub and could see more meaningful minutes Sunday night.
Belgium, ranked 20th in the world, did not qualify for this summers World Cup. The USWNT has just three more tune-up matches before the tournament, all against opponents ranked No. 19 or worse, so the remaining games figure to build confidence more than legitimately test the squad.
Ellis has said in the past that she was shifting her focus to a core group, but that hasnt quite happened yet. Part of it is injuries to key players, like Kelley OHara, but part of it is also Ellis stated mission to explore every option before the World Cup.
On Sunday, Ellis fielded a lineup of presumed backups and bubble players. Attackers like Lloyd, Press and Mallory Pugh, who have filled backup roles for the most part, all started. Meanwhile, McDonald and midfielder McCall Zerboni, who are far from locks to even make the World Cup roster, also saw minutes.
In terms of some of the rotations we did, it was just looking at different pairings and making sure we get as many looks as we can, Ellis said afterward. Part of it was also giving other players opportunities with fresh legs to come into this game. We wanted to give other players opportunities to play and look at different options.
Ellis has said that when May arrives, the ongoing experimentation should stop. She has said this before, of course, but this time she probably means it — by the time the USWNTs next friendlies arrive, the World Cup will only be a month away.
If the USWNT doesnt start getting reps and drilling down on tactics, its hard to see how some of the sloppiness along the back line or in the central midfield will correct itself.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis is likely done tinkering with her lineups. (Getty)MoreAli Krieger could have a shot, but it may be a longer oneThe surprise inclusion of both the camp roster and then Sundays starting lineup was Ali Krieger, who has not appeared for the USWNT in two years, almost to the day.
Ellis has said Kriegers roster inclusion was based on injury concerns for OHara, who has had lingering ankle pain. Asked by Yahoo Sports how Krieger performed Sunday and whether it could affect the upcoming World Cup roster decision, Ellis didnt give much away.
I always refrain from making too many judgements after a game because I want to go back and watch the film and digest, Ellis said. But in training shes done well and thats why its warranted a spot in the lineup tonight, to have a look at that. I will hold back on the answer as I will not reveal anything this point about a roster spot, but it was good to have Ali back in.
The problem for Krieger is that, after two years out of the USWNT fold, she has a lot of ground to make up — and it appears both OHara and Emily Sonnett sit ahead of her on Ellis depth chart.
Ive been gone for two years, so things have changed, like the attacking mentality and defensively were adjusting a few things, Krieger said after the game. You only have a formation at the beginning of a game and at halftime, then everything else instinctual.
The coaches have spent a lot time with me privately, showing me video and the tactical transformation since Ive been gone. So I really appreciate that theyre willing to give me that information and spend time with me to make sure Im up to speed with everything, so I think thats a good sign.
What chance does Ali Krieger (pictured) stand to make the World Cup roster this summer? Jill Ellis might know, but she isnt telling. (Getty)MoreThe opportunities to learn a lot have run outBelgium is ranked 20th in the world, and the USWNTs very thorough thrashing showed just how precipitous the drop-off is from the No. 1 team once you go down the world rankings.
None of the upcoming opponents in the remaining pre-World Cup friendlies are much better, which means the chances for the U.S. women to truly test themselves in game scenarios are now over.
After Sundays match, the players talked to reporters about how they wanted to keep a clean sheet while being relentless in the attack — but Belgium was never going to threaten the USWNT much regardless.
While the roster of depth pieces and bubble players certainly looked impressive in the win, its important to consider the opponent and take the result with a grain of salt. Ellis probably isnt changing her mind on anything big because of Sundays performance against Belgium.
Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. womens national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.