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Heath scores in return, USWNT sweeps China (video)

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CLEVELAND (AP) Tobin Heath scored the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute in her return from injury and the U.S. national team beat China 2-1 on Tuesday night to sweep the two-game exhibition series.

Three minutes after China tied it at 1 on Li Ying’s fast-break goal, Heath chipped the goalkeeper on a miss hit.

[ MORE: PST’s big World Cup roundtable ]

It was Heath’s first game with the national team since appearing as a substitute in a friendly against New Zealand last September. She had surgery to remove bone growth on her right ankle in early January.

Megan Rapinoe put the U.S. ahead in the 35th by heading home Christen Press’ cross at the far post. Press became the 37th player to appear in 100 matches for the U.S.

U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made her first start of 2018. She denied a well-placed free kick from just outside the penalty box in the 74th.

The United States beat China 1-0 last Thursday in Sandy, Utah.

USWNT squad announced for exhibitions against China

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CHICAGO (AP) Midfielder Tobin Heath is back on the U.S. women’s national team roster after spending the start of the year recovering from surgery.

Coach Jill Ellis named a 23-player roster Tuesday for a pair of exhibition matches against China next month.

[ MORE: USSF details GM job duties ]

Heath, who turned 30 on Tuesday, hasn’t played with the national team since appearing as a substitute in a friendly against New Zealand last September. She had surgery to remove bone growth on her right ankle in early January.

Also returning to the national team is Julie Ertz, who missed a pair of April exhibition matches against Mexico because of a knee injury.

Christen Press, left off the roster for Mexico because she was not on a club team at the time, also returned to the roster.

Press, who was traded to the Houston Dash in the offseason but never joined the National Women’s Soccer League club, is currently playing in Sweden with Goteborg.

Heath, Smith sidelined with injuries for USWNT

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CHICAGO (AP) Forward Tobin Heath and defender Taylor Smith are sidelined with injuries that will keep them out of the U.S. women’s national team training camp in Louisiana ahead of two upcoming matches against South Korea.

Heath is nursing an ankle injury and Smith her shoulder. Both women were hurt in the NWSL championship match last Saturday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Monday.

The Americans play Thursday at New Orleans and Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

Neither player will be replaced on the roster and coach Jill Ellis will have 18 players dressed for each game.

Ozil shows off jersey from USWNT star, Arsenal fan Heath

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Germany’s use of a young squad for this summer’s Confederations Cup has allowed Mesut Ozil some unusual freedom this offseason.

Ozil, 28, has been spending some time in America this offseason, and apparently connected with USWNT and Portland Thorns star Tobin Heath.

Heath has long been delayed in returning to the lineup with a back injury, and Ozil showed off a signed Heath USWNT shirt on Twitter while wishing the star well in her recovery.

[ MORE: Man City in for Aubameyang ]

Heath claimed to be a big Arsenal fan back in 2011, when she and USWNT teammate Casey Nogueira visited the Emirates, and has supported the club on social media.

USWNT calls up 16-year-old free-scoring striker

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Injuries to Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Morgan Brian have opened the door for a new face to the USWNT.

And that face is young.

Jill Ellis has called up 16-year-old Sophia Smith for USWNT training camp ahead of April’s two friendlies against Russia.

[ MORE: PL Preview — Merseyside Derby ]

Judging from this U.S. Soccer press release, Smith is really good at scoring goals (She also scored for the U-23s this month):

Between Feb. 15 and March 8, Smith was in Europe, first with the U.S. U-18 WNT in England, where she scored five goals in three games. That performance earned her a first call-up to the U.S. U-20 WNT and she traveled directly to La Manga, Spain, where she scored another four goals in three matches.

Smith comes from the same Real Colorado youth set-up as 17-year-old Jaelin Howell, who was called up earlier in the week.

Coincidentally, Smith lists Heath as one of her two favorite players.