U.S. women: Competition for roster spots heats up

The USA improved to 7-0-1 on its post-Women's World Cup Victory Tour with a 2-0 win over China in front of 19,066 fans at University of Phoenix Stadium, a record crowd to watch a women's game in Arizona. Crystal Dunn and Christen Press scored as they underscored the competition for spots on next year's team that is expected to seek to defend its Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro.

Dunn put the USA ahead in the 39th minute when he blasted a left-footed shot from the right side for her fourth goal of the year. Press added a late goal two minutes after she entered the game when she picked up a rebound at the top of the area, cut the ball back to beat her defender and fired a left-footed shot into the far corner from 19 yards.

Lindsey Horan and Dunn again started in midfield. Neither player made the roster for the 2015 Women's World Cup. One or more starting spots in midfield will be up for grabs next summer. Lauren Holiday has retired, and Megan Rapinoe suffered a knee injury that put her Olympic hopes in doubt.

Press' goal gives her 10 for the year, second on the national team behind Carli Lloyd's 18 goals. She also scored a second-half hat trick in the 6-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in San Antonio, showing she has regained the form that eluded her in Canada. Her winning goal against Australia in the opener was her lone goal at the Women's World Cup and she finished the tournament on the bench.

With Abby Wambach's retirement after Wednesday's game against China in New Orleans, Press should take on the role of the first forward off the bench, assuming Coach Jill Ellis sticks with Alex Morgan as the lone forward.

Also off the bench, NWSL rookies Stephanie McCaffrey and Jaelene Hinkle and University of Virginia senior Emily Sonnett all earned their third caps. The left-footed Hinkle could battle Kelley O'Hara for a spot as a reserve outside back on the Olympic.

Olympic regulations allow men's and women's teams to take only 18 players, down from 23 for the World Cup. The U.S. women will begin with a winter camp in January and Olympic qualifying in February.

Dec. 13 in Glendale, Arizona
USA 2 China 0. Goals: Dunn 39, Press 81.
USA -- Naeher; Krieger (Hinkle, 46), Sauerbrunn, Johnston, Klingenberg; Dunn (O'Reilly, 46), Horan (Sonnett, 79), Brian, Heath (McCaffrey, 79); Lloyd (Wambach, 79), Morgan (Press, 79).
China -- Zhao Lina; Liu Shanshan, Zhao Rong, Li Dongna, Xue; Wang Shanshan, Wang Shuang (Li Ying, 71), Lei (Han, 46), Gu (Xu Yanlu, 79), Yang (Ren, 71); Tan.
Referee: Cardella Samuels (Jamaica).
5 comments about "U.S. women: Competition for roster spots heats up".
  1. Terry Lynch, December 14, 2015 at 7:28 a.m.

    Press wasn't playing striker/forward in Canada. She was playing wide right in the midfield in Ellis' attempt to get her on the field. She's not a MF'er. This is working better. Morgan and she are the #1 and #2 forward options now, imo. Leroux and ARod fighting for the third spot (assuming of course JE stays with the 4-2-3-1.)

  2. jack lighthiser, December 14, 2015 at 12:47 p.m.

    Remember that when both were seniors, Morgan @cal and Press @stanford, Press was player of the year.
    Morgan's the golden girl, (speed), but press plays better behind and opens up the defense.

  3. Carl Hudson, December 14, 2015 at 1:32 p.m.

    Forget Heath, Brian, Leroux, Arod.
    I have not seen enough of the other newcomers to have an opinion.

  4. Allan Lindh, December 15, 2015 at 4:19 p.m.

    Heath and Brian were the difference when the game got tough in Canada -- they are essential in mid-field. They are our best on the ball players, until Mallory Pugh arrives.

  5. Terry Ellis, December 16, 2015 at 12:18 p.m.

    Heath and Brian were both critical for the World cup and continue to show well for the WNT, especially with Holliday gone. Leroux has been quiet lately but I don't think I would write her off just yet. Arod seems to be hot and cold but may not make such a talent laden squad if only 18 can go to Rio. But time will tell

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