USA-Mexico Women's International Friendly: Rapinoe leads a formidable frontline

April 8 in Houston
USA 6 Mexico 2. Goals: Pugh (Rapinoe) 3, Horan (Rapinoe) 25, Lloyd (Morgan) 34, Morgan (Rapinoe) 44, Rapinoe 64, Morgan (Rapinoe) 68; Ocampo 17, Palacios (Ocampo) 24.
Att.: 15,349.

Mallory Pugh
opened the scoring 128 seconds after kickoff. Megan Rapinoe assisted four times and scored with a 38-yard chip. Lindsey Horan headed home a corner kick.  Alex Morgan struck twice. And Carlie Lloyd scored her 100th career goal in the USA's 6-2 win over Mexico.

1. Poor goalkeeping not costly for USA on this day

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell's third appearance for the USA turned nightmarish early in the first half. The 23-year-old Houston Dash keeper was standing in her own net, well behind the goal line, when the low corner kick from Monica Ocampo flew straight into the goal. Campbell reacted equally tentative on another corner kick seven minutes later that gave Mexico a 2-1 lead with close-range header by Kiana Palacios. Left back Crystal Dunn whiffed when she should have blocked the first corner kick, but the clearly nervous Campbell won't be climbing the depth chart soon. Coach Jill Ellis replaced her with Ashlyn Harris in the 67th minute. (Alyssa Naeher had started all three SheBelieves Cup games and conceded only one goal, but she had a poor outing on Thursday against the Mexicans.)

Fortunately for the USA, its offense ran on all cylinders on Sunday.

2. Megan Rapinoe gives world-class performance

The frontline with Rapinoe and Pugh flanking Morgan overwhelmed the Mexicans. On Thursday, the USA beat Mexico 4-1 in Orlando on goals by Pugh, Morgan (two) and Lloyd. In both games, the scoring started with Rapinoe assisting Pugh.

Sunday marked the last game for the USA as a teenager for Pugh, who turns 20 on April 29. She met Rapinoe's defense-splitting pass and glided past Mexico's lunging goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago in the third minute to score her fifth goal of 2018 and her 11th goal in 35 U.S. games. After the USA went behind, Rapinoe earned the USA a corner kick and then delivered it to the head of Lindsey Horan to make it 2-2.

On the only U.S. goal on which Rapinoe's name didn't appear on the scoresheet -- Lloyd's century strike that made it 3-2 -- Rapinoe evaded two defenders to serve a cross that Horan volleyed to Morgan, whose high ball Lloyd met with her head near the goal line to tap in. Morgan's strikes came off a low pass and a corner kick from Rapinoe, who scored her 36th career goal with a chip over stranded Santiago.

3. Teenager Tierna Davidson shines on the backline

In the fifth minute, deep in the U.S. half, Becky Sauerbrunn passed to her central defense partner Tierna Davidson, who was quickly under pressure from two Mexican attackers. Davidson smoothly maneuvered the ball away her foes and the U.S. kept possession before launching an attack. In the 13th minute, the USA won the ball deep in its own half and right back Emily Sonnett, Davidson and Sauerbrunn exchanged quick passes before sending Pugh on a counterattack that ended with a U.S. corner kick. Davidson also chipped some precise passes to center forward Morgan's feet.

The U.S. backline's composure with the ball went a long way to enabling the USA to outplay the Mexicans, and Davidson stood out. The Stanford sophomore is only 19 and has started all six U.S. games in 2018. The last newcomer to start her national team career with that much playing time was another Stanford player, Julie Foudy, 28 years ago.

NOTABLE: Three players made their U.S. debuts -- UCLA junior Hailie Mace (age 21), the Houston Dash's Haley Hanson (22) and Stanford junior Tegan McGrady (20).

April 8 in Houston
USA 6 Mexico 2. Goals: Pugh (Rapinoe) 3, Horan (Rapinoe) 25, Lloyd (Morgan) 34, Morgan (Rapinoe) 44, Rapinoe 64, Morgan (Rapinoe) 68; Ocampo 17, Palacios (Ocampo) 24.
USA -- Campbell (Harris, 67); Sonnett (Huerta, 75), Sauerbrunn, Davidson (Mace, 59), Dunn; Brian (Long, 29), Horan (Hanson, 40), Lloyd; Pugh (McGrady, 58), Morgan, Rapinoe.
Mexico -- Santiago; Robles, Sierra, Espinoza (M.Flores, 50), Murillo (Mejia, 46); Nieto, Ferral (V.Flores, 79), Mayor, Ocampo (Sanchez, 60); Calderon (Guajardo, 70), Palacios (Cuellar, 74).
Referee: Karen Abt (USA)
Att.: 15,349

Stats: USA/Mexico
Shots: 18/6
Shots on Goal: 14/2
Saves: 0/8
Corner Kicks: 9/6
Fouls: 4/10
Offside: 1/2 

3 comments about "USA-Mexico Women's International Friendly: Rapinoe leads a formidable frontline".
  1. R2 Dad, April 8, 2018 at 11:50 p.m.

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Campbell had a terrible day--curious if she can make it back into form after today's howlers. She seemed dazed and unsure on those set pieces and mentality is something difficult to change.

    Of the back three, Sonnett was the outlier--sub material from what she's shown the past couple of matches. Not a right back, passable as a centerback but not as disciplined or skilled as Sauerbrunn. There have got to be better options for Ellis.

    Rapinoe is the creative force we'll need next year--hope she stays healthy through France 2019.

    Mexico played a high line throughout the match--don't expect them to play so openly next CONCACAF qualifier they're up 2-1.

    Lastly, had this match been a qualifier referee Abt might have had a much different day. She allowed 2 cardable "tackles" in the first 15 that could have seen the match spin up significantly. I think she impeded the ball twice during the run of play--curious how she was assessed after the match. She appeared to have two hispanic ARs--wasn't there a spanish-speaking center available? Abt is a FIFA ref, but I'd imagine giving reps to an english/spanish speaker ahead of the world cup next year would also be valuable.

  2. Michael Saunders replied, April 9, 2018 at 10:46 a.m.

    We all agree on the referee.   Yes there was a possible language issue; yet, players know when they are being warned verbally and they certainly understand a cards.    I   am the last one to  openly criticize a referee ; but this performance was dreadful.   Enough said!

    Campbell indeed had a nightmare but let's focus on the fact that of the 5 goals scored against the USA this year, 3 were a direct result from corners (Denmark 1, Mexico 2).  And if my memory serves me correctly, Mexico had a close call in the first match, France had one as well.  Numbers don't lie:  When 60% of your opponents goals emanate from corners with different GKs, you have a problem.  Sure the GKs are culpable; but where is the Defense?  Why was Dunn not hugging the near side post on both corners?   Bottom line:   The coaching staff needs to address this issue.   Just blaming the GKs is shirking their responsibility. 

  3. Bill Riviere, April 9, 2018 at 8:25 a.m.

    R2 Dad, I agree with you on the referee.  This was far and away the worst refereeing I've seen at a women's national team level in a long time. Quite inferior.  I'm not sure she has any foul recognition capabilities.  And I saw more than one cautionable offense that were ignored.

    As well, on Lloyd's 100th goal, a Mexican defender took out Morgan from behind near the six and went in with cleats up.  I understand "play on", but the defender deserved a caution if not a send off.  Serious foul play.  Several other no calls with tackles from behind without ball contact also.

    AR1 acted like she didn't know what an offside is--missed several in my opinion, but the camera work was not so great and  angles for viewers may have been off.

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