The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) won their second consecutive international friendly match of the 2021 Summer Series Tournament on June 13. Sunday’s 4-0 win was against Concacaf rival Jamaica in Houston, Texas. Team USA was fresh off of a 1-0 victory over a very stubborn Portugal team on Thursday, June 10.
The U.S. team’s 23-player roster includes Colorado’s Lindsey Horan and Sophia Smith. Both are competing for head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s favorable recognition in hopes of earning invitations to join his Olympic team in Japan late next month.
The win against Jamaica extended the Lady Yank’s unbeaten streak to 41 consecutive matches, and in this year alone to 8W-0L-1T. They have also outscored their opponents 27 to 1.
Lindsey Horan steps up, again
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski once again fielded his best available lineup, then pushed his starting 11 to play in the stifling heat and near-90% humidity. After the match with Portugal, Andonovski said “We have to be careful from the management standpoint but also there are some things that we want to see in the next couple games that will be another reason we’re going to rotate players.” And that management includes how each player is able to handle the oppressive conditions as Texas mirrors Japan’s climate in July.
Andonovski is also testing his players in other field roles, as the gaffer is also thinking about his upcoming first-round opponents in Japan — Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand — as well as who will play best in certain field positions against these worthy teams.
Last week, Colorado Rush product Lindsey Horan had to adopt a new position on the pitch. The stellar box-to-box attacking midfielder started studying and training to fall back and play as the defensive holding midfielder, the number 6 role. Her repositioning comes while Julie Ertz, the default defensive midfielder, is recovering from an MCL sprain to her right knee that she suffered in National Women’s Soccer League play last month.
Andonovski turned to the versatile Horan to step in for Ertz. And the studious and gritty Horan did not disappoint her coach, teammates, and loyal fans. After the Portugal game, Andonovski said that Horan “was a monster on the field.” He was impressed with her all-around tenacity and up and down the field play. Her “aerial challenges, intercepting balls, and controlling the game from all areas of the field,” were also descriptives the manager included in his glowing review of Horan’s performance.
“Lindsey being Lindsey, she’s never satisfied; she always wants more. The first thing she asked me is when we can go over videos... I was so happy to hear that because that’s how they function. They want to grow; they want to get better.”
USA vs Jamaica
Horan returned to the same position in the match with Jamaica. It afforded the Coloradoan another opportunity to improve on her skills, and give the defensive unit the opportunity to team up with her. During the press conference, centerback Tierna Davidson was asked about Horan in her role as a defensive midfielder.
“I think it is evolving well. With the connections that we have on this team, almost any player can slide into any position, and can make it work. I think the players communicate really well, they give communication, receive communication, and take construction. as needed. And everyone wants to be part of a system that is successful,” she added. “I think Lindsey has done a great job sliding into the six when we have needed her.”
The Stars and Stripes outshot Jamaica 15-2 and out-possessed them 72% to 28%. Their four goals came from Carli Lloyd, Margret Purce, Alex Morgan, and Horan. In the 7th minute of the game, Christen Press was clipped by a Jamaican defender and crashed inside the 18-yard box. A card was issued and the penalty kick awarded to Horan. She delivered the second goal of the game on a swift shot that curved to the right corner of the net, while the Jamaica keeper sailed low and to her left.
The fleet-footed Real Colorado alum Sophia Smith entered into the match at the 65th minute for Press. Smith is on the Olympic team’s selection bubble and she continues to make positive strides and a very solid impression. She has earned a mountain of praise from the coaching staff and her teammates. If she does not make the 18-player Olympic team roster, she may just earn a ticket to come along as one of the four-player alternates, as is permitted by the International Olympic Committee.
Andonovski once again complimented Smith’s efforts, even as a substitute. “Soph, I thought was dangerous. She found herself on good score opportunities but obviously didn’t capitalize on any of them. But just the fact that she is very aggressive, making runs behind the line, and finding herself where she can impact the game, was very good.”
Watch the full highlights here.
Following the match with the Reggae Girlz, the team traveled north to Austin and will host Nigeria in the Series finale on June 16 in a sold-out MLS Q2 Stadium.
Very soon thereafter, Andonovski and his coaching staff will evaluate film and player performances from the three matches, and then officially announce the 2021 Olympic Team roster, plus the traveling alternates. On July 1 and 5, the Lady Yanks will play their last two matches stateside before departing for the Summer Games. They will host FIFA 28th-ranked Mexico in Hartford, Connecticut, then ship out to Tokyo.