Three takeaways from USA-Mexico women's friendly

May 17 in Carson, California
USA 5 Mexico 1. Goals: Leroux 28 (Rapinoe), Chalupny (Wambach) 46, Wambach pen. 58, Leroux (Brian) 61, Wambach (Heath) 72; Calderon (Sierra) 39.
Att.: 27,000.

With Alex Morgan again sitting out with a bone contusion on her knee and Coach Jill Ellis still trying to figure out her frontline pairing for the Women's Women's World Cup, the USA broke out with a 5-1 win over Mexico that would have been much bigger but for the work in goal of Celia Santiago and Texan defender Alina Garciamendez, who cleared two goals off the line.

1. Sydney Leroux makes strong case for a starting job.

Sydney Leroux came into the game with no goals in just 123 minutes in the first seven matches of the year. But in her first start, the former UCLA star may have won a starting job. She scored two and could have had a couple more, but it was her set-up work and runs off the ball that impressed. She twice timed her runs to break through and beat Santiago, and she had a hand in Abby Wambach's second goal, scored on a header off a cross from tricky Tobin Heath.

After Wambach and Amy Rodriguez started against Ireland a week earlier, Christen Press and Leroux started against Mexico. Off of Sunday night's performance, the likely starters up front against Australia in the Women's World Cup opener June 8 in Winnipeg will be longtime pals Leroux and Morgan, who led the USA to the 2008 Under-20 Women's World Cup title and are both married to Sporting Kansas City players.

Morgan Brian, the youngest player on the team, started on the right side of midfield, where Press has been playing. Press, who was subbed for Wambach at the half, still remains the likely starter against the Matildas, but Brian had a strong game with her service into the area.

2. The USA ups the tempo and is rewarded.

The USA is now 6-0-1 after opening the year with a 2-0 loss to France in Lorient, but its performance against Mexico was its best of the year.

Woeful finishing plagued the Americans against New Zealand and Ireland, but Santiago saved Mexico time and again, foiling Megan Rapinoe no less than four times from close range. Garciamendez cleared shots by Carli Lloyd and Brian off the line, and Lloyd also hit the crossbar.

The USA played at a tempo few teams in the world can match, pressuring Mexico throughout and combining well. It once again showed off its depth, getting three goals and two assists from players off the bench.

3. A big gracias to Leo Cuellar and El Tri Femenil.

Many have wondered if this is the end of the road for Leo Cuellar, the 1978 Mexico World Cup captain who built Mexico's women's program from scratch, beginning in the late 1990s. But after a poor showing in Concacaf qualifying -- Mexico qualified as the third-place team -- Cuellar went back to the drawing board.

Benefiting from an intense preparation that included heavy training on the beach and in the mountains, Mexico hung with the USA for more than an hour. It was rewarded with a goal by Californian Ariana Calderon, one of six Mexican-Americans Cuellar started.

The USA could have not asked for better sparring partners than El Tri Femenil.

TRIVIA. The goal Calderon scored was the first Hope Solo has allowed in goal in 536 minutes.

May 17 in Carson, Calif.
USA 5 Mexico 1. Goals: Leroux 28 (Rapinoe), Chalupny (Wambach) 46, Wambach pen. 58, Leroux (Brian) 61, Wambach (Heath) 72; Calderon (Sierra) 39.
USA -- Solo; Krieger (O'Hara 70), Johnston (Rampone 46), Sauerbrunn (Engen, 70), Klingenberg (Chalupny 46); Brian (Heath 62), Holiday, Lloyd, Rapinoe; Leroux, Press (Wambach 46).
Mexico -- Santiago, Sierra, Garciamendez, Murillo (Ruiz 64), Robles, Rangel, V.Perez, Calderon (Cuellar 42; Alvarado 69), Ocampo, Romero, Corral.
Att.: 27,000.

6 comments about "Three takeaways from USA-Mexico women's friendly".
  1. Carl Hudson, May 18, 2015 at 11:24 a.m.

    The article gave no player ratings, but if anybody cares, here are mine:

    Solo 5 (was out of position on Mexico's goal) ; Krieger 2 (as usual, has no idea in which direction she should move the ball); O'Hara 2 (useless), Johnston 7 (made a couple of minor defensive errors first half); Rampone 5 (a bit rusty), Sauerbrunn 3; Klingenberg 4; Chalupny 6 (showed good speed); Brian 6 (good first half playing attacking midfield, less useful playing back second half); Heath 6; Holiday 4;, Lloyd 5 (played better than she usually does), Rapinoe 6 (screwed up several attacks); Leroux 8 (very strong game), Press 6 (good speed); Wambach 4 (how can you score two goals and get a 4 rating? She showed us).

  2. Karl Schreiber, May 18, 2015 at 1:51 p.m.

    Good points. Looks to me the US is still holding back a bit. Good moments! Am I the only one who detected signs of exhaustion towards the end? Not Leroux. But Rapino for one had too many lousy passes. – BUT: Am I the only one who is thoroughly disgusted with the Fox TV COLOR COMMENTATORS, Toni DiCicco and Cat Whitehill??? Considering a broad-based TV audience, how many viewers are interested in DiCicco’s endless wise-guy dissertations on coaching and player analyzes that in turn seem to animate Whitehill to telling personal stories of past playing times and eventually culminating in a hyped-up dialogue that often overpowers JP Dellacamera’s fine announcing of player names and other important happenings. This misguided approach to color-commenting will make the otherwise excellent Fox coverage of the WWC a painful experience. And don’t tell me to turn off the sound; I don’t want to miss the stadium ambiance. I hope to be able to watch the games on a Spanish-language network instead.

  3. James Madison, May 18, 2015 at 6:29 p.m.

    Come on, SA; stop dsicriminating against the women and, for better or worse, post your player ratings.

  4. Albert Wolf, May 18, 2015 at 9:40 p.m.

    As a poor speaker of Spanish, I always listen to the Spanish version when the resolution is as good or better. Someday in a perfect world there will be only crowd noise or a microphone you get to point.

  5. beautiful game, May 19, 2015 at 10:29 a.m.

    Tri was overmatched...the benefit of such a game is getting players into shape, nothing more.

  6. VIC Aguilera, May 19, 2015 at 11:36 a.m.

    When in doubt and the USAWNT needs a nice tune-up, just call Mexico and play in L.A.. $$$$$$$

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