Alex Morgan scored her 50th U.S. goal on a header in the 25th minute, the Americans did dominate, but the AR wrongly called offside Jodie Taylor, who in the 57th minute buried a rebound after U.S. keeper Ashlyn Harris deflected Fran Kirby’s long-range shot onto the crossbar.
Besides the nullified goal, England didn’t threaten. For its part, the USA had a practice session on how to cope with a packed defense.
Here are three takeaways from the USA's win over England.
1. The U.S. midfield did look better, but …
Last Sunday, in a 2-0 loss to France, the Americans were thoroughly outplayed in midfield. Against England, a far less skillful team than the French, the early going didn’t look good for U.S. central midfielders Morgan Brian and Lauren Holiday, who were flanked by Carli Lloyd and Christen Press.
But after starting off by launching inaccurate passes to the frontline duo of Abby Wambach and Morgan, who were blanketed by English defenders, they finally played more patiently.
A crisp combination by Brian and Holiday led to Holiday’s inswinging cross that Morgan headed home from eight yards. The Americans started keeping possession for longer periods, probing rather than hitting hopeful balls, and finding some rhythm.
It did not, however, translate into another goal. And when the opponents know your main strategy is to feed the front two, the midfielders need to create scoring opportunities of their own.
2. Abby Wambach’s role will be under review.
The USA’s all-time leading scorer, Wambach turns 35 four days before this summer’s Women’s World Cup kicks off.
She was an ineffective 63rd-minute sub against France. She started against England, as Ellis moved Press into midfield, and played the full 90 minutes.
The English backline had so little trouble denying her of the ball that one wonders how effective she’ll be against strong opponents at the World Cup.
3. Key players were missed.
The USA was missing four key players on its two-game Europe tour: suspended Hope Solo and the injured trio of Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe and Christie Rampone.
Solo’s backup, Harris, was tested only once, when she created a rebound that set up the nullified goal. Solo, one thinks, would handle a long-range shot better. Leroux has scored in more than half of her 66 appearances. The central defense is coping without the 39-year-old veteran Rampone. But the lethal forays from wide that Rapinoe provides were needed.
TRIVIA: Morgan’s 50 goals have come in 73 appearances, and at age 25 she’s 10th on the all-time leading scorers list, three goals behind Carin Jennings-Gabarra, who scored her 53 goals in 117 games. No. 1 Wambach scored her 177 goals in 234 games.
Feb. 13 in Milton
England 0 USA 1. Goal: Morgan (Holiday) 25.
USA -- Harris; Krieger, Engen, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg (Dunn, 79); Press (O’Hara, 90+2), Brian, Holiday, Lloyd; Morgan (Rodriguez, 90), Wambach.
England -- Bardsley; Scott, Houghton, Bassett (Clarke, 90), Stokes (Greenwood, 70); Nobbs (Williams, 81), Scott, Potter (Aliko, 79), Carney; Taylor (Sanderson, 81), Kirby
Referee: Sandra Bastos (Portugal)