Photo by Brad Smith/ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
It wasn’t quite the roaring comeback the U.S. Women’s National Team wanted after a rough Algarve Cup last month, but the Americans coasted to victory Sunday in Denver using a newer formation over China, 2-0.
In their second time starting in a 4-3-3 under coach Tom Sermanni, the USWNT seemed to be their own worst enemy, failing to finish on a flurry of chances as China threatened very little for a friendly in front of 14,903 fans.
With 23 shots for the Americans – 12 of them on goal – Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe found the breakthroughs as China only had one shot all game.
In the 39th minute, Sydney Leroux touched off a frantic sequence of deflections after charging Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yue for the ball in a crowded box. The ball bounced to the feet of Holiday, who fired it from the top of the box past an out-of-position Yue for the lead.
Rapinoe scored the insurance goal in the 79th minute on an in-swinging free kick that took a bounce through traffic and slipped far post past a diving Yue.
Since Sermanni took over the USWNT in January 2013, Sunday marked their second time starting with a three-front of Leroux, Christen Press and Heather O’Reilly, usually only switching to the formation late in games for an offensive boost.
It seemed a bit unjust for Leroux to not get on the scoreboard herself after creating the bulk of the Americans’ chances. She had a couple good long-range looks on goal inside the first 16 minutes, forcing saves, and she relentlessly kept Chinese defenses busy all game.
In their last three meetings against China, the U.S. had scored at least four goals, but a win in a less familiar formation without injured Alex Morgan should give the USWNT a confidence boost after the Algarve Cup last month. There, the USWNT snapped a 43-game unbeaten streak against Sweden and then conceded a record five goals in a single match against Denmark.
The USWNT will face China again on Thursday in San Diego, Calif.
Watch a replay of the full match below:
What did you think of the match? What did you think of the 4-3-3 formation? How will the USWNT do against China on Thursday?
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