In January, when the USWNT opened their camp in Florida, Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski projected his vision for his ideal match day disposition—ruthlessness and a killer instinct from each and every team member.
During his team’s run at winning a berth to the 2020 Summer Olympics, this was evident, up and down the pitch, in every match of the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.
Last night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, the USWNT’s pertinacious box-to-box play against Mexico delivered both a 4-0 win and ticket to the Tokyo Games. They demonstrated depth and sharpness throughout the match before a crowd of 11,292. The U.S. possessed the ball for more than half of the game and outshot Mexico 26-6 (11 on target). Christen Press and Rose Lavelle each scored while Samantha Mewis found the back of the net twice. Mewis won Woman of the Match recognition.
The decisive win also extended the USWNT’s unbeaten streak to 27 matches.
Congratulatory cheers rained down from the supporters’ section, as well as with-in the post-match team huddle, where the Andonovski validated the team’s recent successes. Andonovski’s Lady Yanks went undefeated in the tournament, scoring 22 goals, yielding zero, and offering up no apologies for their tenacity.
THE best kind of postgame huddle. pic.twitter.com/ezh7FJC3g3— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) February 8, 2020
Colorado’s Lindsey Horan played a key role in the team’s success
A significant contributor to the team’s road to Tokyo storyline was Colorado’s Lindsey Horan. The midfielder scored five goals (tied for first with Press), including her first hat trick against Panama. She chipped in with two assists, earned Player of the Match honors, and yes, played Andonovski’s brand of football. With her five-goal outburst, the product of Colorado Rush Youth Soccer Club now has 17 career goals for Team USA.
One of her prettiest goals of the tournament came in the 10th minute against Costa Rica. With the U.S. up 1-0, Ali Krieger played a pass up the middle of the field to Carli Lloyd. The veteran in turn slipped a perfect, made-for-a-highlight-video ball to Horan, who was on the run. Her timing was spot on. The ball found Horan, and she put it into the corner of the net.
3 games. 5 goals. there's no stopping Lindsey Horan right now.— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) February 4, 2020
ps: that Krieger-Lloyd combo of passes... just perfect. pic.twitter.com/hNxkEWZ6SF
Player rest and recovery has been paramount in Andonovski’s overall tournament plan and he has been rotating players throughout the tournament, so Horan came on in the 76th minute for Rose Lavelle in last night’s game. Horan is expected to be on the pitch again in tomorrow’s Championship match against a strong Canadian National Team. Canada defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in their semifinal game.
The two teams will represent North America in this summer’s Olympics. It will be the USWNT’s seventh consecutive opportunity to participate in the Olympics Games and they will be looking to win their 5th gold medal.
The 2016 Olympic team faced very stiff competition and an early loss to Sweden sent the favorites home. To compound the pressure and team’s go-for-the-gold motto, no World Cup champion has ever won an Olympic gold in the subsequent summer. This very talented team with Horan et al, may just break that trend.
In preparation for the Olympics, Team USA will host the 2020 She Believes Cup. During a three-city tour from March 5-11, the U.S. will face England, Japan, and Spain. Doubleheaders will be played in Orlando, Florida; Frisco, Texas; and Harrison, New Jersey.