U.S. continues post-World Cup victory tour with pair of easy wins over Haiti
The United States women continued their post-World Cup victory tour this week with a couple easy wins over Haiti. The Americans followed up a 5-0 win on Thursday with a 8-0 result on Sunday.
Julie Johnston opened the scoring with less than a minute played, tucking away a cutback cross from Kelley O’Hara on a short corner kick. Alex Morgan went down in the penalty area 15 minutes later, and Carli Lloyd finished the penalty kick for her 75th international goal to make it 2-0.
Crystal Dunn scored again for the U.S. less than a minute later, her second goal in the two matches against Haiti. She cut in from the right flank to receive a pass from Megan Rapinoe and ran past a couple defenders before slotting in a simple finish.
Two additional goals from Lloyd finished off both her hat trick and the first half. The second half was much of the same, with Haiti struggling to get out of its own half of the field. Amy Rodriguez, Alex Morgan and Heather O’Reilly finished off the scoring for the Americans.
The U.S. turned in a combined 13-0 win over Haiti in two matches, after previously scheduled opponent Australia dropped out with its players on strike. Here are three thoughts on the U.S.’s matches over Haiti:
Carli Lloyd keeps scoring goals of all types, from all angles
Lloyd scored hat tricks in consecutive games against Haiti, including a penalty in each match. She now has three this year, following up on her astounding World Cup final performance in which she scored three in the first 16 minutes.
Looking back on that World Cup, it’s baffling that she wasn’t playing in the No. 10 role the whole time, considering her explosion since the knockout rounds in Canada. She has been scoring from all sorts of distances and angles and with pretty much every surface of her body since then.
Lloyd is obviously playing the best soccer of her life at the moment. So now, it’s a matter of figuring out the combination of players and what their exact roles will be just underneath her, which is something coach Jill Ellis seems to be in the process of sorting out.
System tweaks offer glimpse into biggest U.S. question mark before Olympics
Part of that process included putting Becky Sauerbrunn in central midfield on Sunday, next to Morgan Brian. Johnston can also play defensive midfield, and it’s a little surprising to see Sauerbrunn as the first choice to change spots after the way she held down the back line in the World Cup.
Of course, tweaking the system against Haiti won’t give as much of an indication as to its effectiveness as would doing the same against Brazil next month. Doing it in this game was more about testing the players’ comfort levels and seeing if it would be a viable option to try again in the October matches.
A more defensive presence in midfield allows Brian more freedom to be an attacking presence, which is what she was at University of Virginia in the No. 10 role. Just as Brian’s play in midfield was what allowed Lloyd to be so effective at the World Cup, this move could help Brian find her most dangerous position with the national team.
Crystal Dunn makes an immediate positive impact
Dunn got her deserved chance with the national team in these two games after being overlooked for the World Cup squad, and she continued to prove why she should have been in Canada. A goal and two assists in the first game followed by another goal and multiple chances created in the second game put her one step closer to the Olympic roster.
She’s a smart player who can run the flanks and play one-on-one against opposition defenders, or she can cut inside to provide another option alongside the center forward. She showed multiple facets against Haiti, combining on slick one-twos with teammates, bursting through the defense to get to the endline and picking the right moments to cut in.
Dunn can play up top or in a wide position, although her best position is clearly on the wing. That type of versatility will be important when Ellis gets around to selecting her roster for Rio 2016, as only 18 players will make the Olympic squad compared to 23 for FIFA events.