There was a downpour of rain and an outpouring of U.S. Women’s National Team goals last night in Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium, including a graceful second-half header by Colorado’s Lindsey Horan. Team USA started slow but won with ease before a light crowd of just over 4,000 faithful fans. With the victory, Horan moved one match closer to representing the United States and her home state of Colorado in this summer’s Olympic Games in Japan.
Horan was not a fixture in Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s starting line-up, which prompted a wave of calls for her to come in on social media. When she did enter the game in 71st minute, Horan made a point that she should be starting again. There’s a reason she was often a go-to midfielder in former USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis’ line-ups.
In the 73rd minute of play, Kelley O’Hara played a short pass to Megan Rapinoe near the right flag. The 2019 World Cup MVP lofted a cross toward the penalty spot. Horan was in the box, free-floating behind teammate Carli Lloyd, found the ball, and tapped in a strong header that both Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Théus and defender Batcheba Louis simply couldn’t contend with.
Colorado’s own Jordan Angeli made the enthusiastic call:
The USWNT went on to win 4-0, in the first competitive match and for Head Coach Andonovski.
“The positive is at the end we were still able to win the game 4-0,” Andonovski said during his post-match interview session with media. “The negative is we could’ve created a lot more opportunities and I felt like we could’ve scored more goals. We were not able to so we have to develop that ruthlessness and killer instinct when we’re around the box.” He added: “I believe as the tournament goes by, we’re going to see a little bit better U.S.A. team.”
After the first round of games in Group A, the U.S. sits in 2nd place behind Costa Rica, based on goal differential. Costa Rica soundly defeated FIFA’s 53rd-ranked Panama 6-1. The USWNT continues the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament against Panama this Friday. The match in Houston is scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m. ET. USA will conclude group play on Monday, February 3rd, against 37th-ranked Costa Rica.
Assuming the U.S. progresses, they will travel west to Los Angeles. Semifinal play is set for February 7th and the title match on February 9th—both in Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park. The top two winners earn berths to the Olympic Games that will be held this July and August.
Most of the Olympics-bound women’s soccer teams are already confirmed:
Two teams from the Concacaf region, two from Asia, and one from Africa are still in the play-on mix, as is the winner of a playoff between the 2nd-place finisher from Africa vs. Chile.
Last fall Horan, a product of the Colorado Rush Soccer Club and Rush Pro Development, spoke with Denver Post sports report John Meyer and confidently told the veteran writer that she “aims to be the greatest soccer player in the world.” With her exceptional performance in the recent World Cup Tournament, and most likely trademark play during this qualifying tournament, the amiable Horan continues to work towards achieving her personal goal this summer in Tokyo. Let’s hope she does, as Andonovski still must cut back his roster to 18 overachieving players for the upcoming Olympics.