The United States women’s national team was back on the pitch Thursday in the first of a bevy of friendlies leading up to their quest to reclaim an Olympic medal following a brutal performance at Rio 2016.
There’s a different coach on board now and Vlatko Andonovski remains unbeaten as USWNT boss as his record nears 20 matches with just one draw, but this one was dangerously close to joining an April 10 draw away to Sweden as a rare non-win on his ledger.
It was neither for lack of trying nor ideas, either; The Yanks took 26 shots to Portugal’s four in a 1-0 win in Houston, putting 10 on target and taking 15 corners to the visitors’ one.
[ ON HER TURF: Which 18 players will make the Olympic roster? ]
But the match was within its final quarter-hour when North Carolina Courage midfielder Sam Mewis thumped a close-range header home in the 76th minute, giving the ex-Man City player a 21st international goal.
The USWNT remains a tough lineup to crack, so every performance matters for players who want to make the team for the Tokyo Games. Andonovski started Alyssa Naeher behind a 4-3-3 of Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Rose Lavelle, Mewis, Christen Press, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe.
Carli Lloyd, Emily Sonnett, and Sophia Smith entered in the 73rd minute for Morgan, O’Hara, and Rapinoe. Tierna Davidson and Lynn Williams appeared later in the contest.
Next up is Jamaica on Sunday before a Wednesday visit from Nigeria. A pair of holiday fixtures with Mexico on July 1 and 5 are the final warm-ups before the Olympic group stage begins with Sweden on July 21. The Yanks will also meet New Zealand and Australia in group play.
— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) June 11, 2021