Commentary

USA-Portugal Women's International Friendly: Narrow victory gives USA 500 wins

USA-PORTUGAL EXPRESS:
Nov. 8 in Estoril
Portugal 0 USA 1. Goal: McDonald 42.
Att.: 980.

The USA opened its final trip of the 2018 women's season with a 1-0 win over Portugal before a sparse crowd at the Estadio Coimbra in the Lisbon suburb of Estoril.

Jessica McDonald's goal in the 42nd minute was enough to give the U.S. women their 500th win in program history.

1. USA takes foot off the pedal.

The USA rolled through Concacaf Women's World Cup qualifying with five shutout wins by a combined margin of 26-0. The key: it came out with energy and took immediate control with goals in the first 10 minutes of each game. But it didn't stop there. It went out to bury its often mismatched Concacaf opponents.

That early goal did not come on Thursday, allowing the Portuguese to grow into the game and grow in confidence. And when the USA finally scored, its hosts didn't collapse.

Portugal is only the 21st-ranked team in Europe, but it has enough poise and experience to not get too rattled by the U.S. attackers. The competition will only get tougher as the USA gets out of Concacaf and prepares for the World Cup.



2. McDonald gets second look, Fox and Colaprico debut.

The USA had plenty of chances but didn't do well with its finishing. McDonald, who missed an open chance earlier in the first half, scored the only goal when she followed up on her shot stopped by Portuguese keeper Patricia Morais and put away the rebound.

McDonald was playing only her second game for the USA, while University of North Carolina sophomore Emily Fox and Chicago Red Stars midfielder Danielle Colaprico earned their first caps.

McDonald and Fox were among four starters not in Jill Ellis' lineup she went with throughout most of qualifying. Andi Sullivan played her first game for the USA since April, starting in midfield with Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle, while Mallory Pugh got the start on the right wing in place of Tobin Heath, who did not travel to Europe.

3. U.S. defense holds tight again.

Portugal's 13 shots were only one less than the USA faced in all five games combined at the Concacaf Women's Championships. But keeper Alyssa Naeher needed to make only two saves to earn her ninth shutout of 2018 and extend the USA's shutout streak to 794 minutes, dating back to the Tournament of Nations in August.

The USA is just too strong down the spine with Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper behind Julie Ertz (a late sub against Portugal) and Horan to give opponents many quality opportunities.

Trivia. The win extended the USA's record in 2018 to 17-0-2.

Nov. 8 in Estoril

Portugal 0 USA 1. Goal: McDonald 42.
Portugal -- Morais; Fidalgo, Rebelo, Carole, M.Mendes; Marques, T.Pinto (F.Pinto, 86), Dolores Silva, Diana Silva, C.Mendes (Norton, 63), J.Silva (Leite, 86).
USA -- Naeher; Fox (Lloyd, 63), Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Sullivan (Colaprico, 46), Lavelle (Ertz, 82), Horan; Pugh (Sonnett, 73), McDonald (Morgan, 46), Rapinoe.
Att.: 980.

Stats:
USA / POR
Shots: 13 / 13
Shots on Goal: 5 / 4
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 15
Offside: 4 / 2

2 comments about "USA-Portugal Women's International Friendly: Narrow victory gives USA 500 wins".
  1. John Soares, November 8, 2018 at 9:47 p.m.

    A poor game for the USA, no question.
    The Portuguese ladies were very quick, covered extremely well on defense.
    However it means nothing, mixed/new line, 0 pressure and yet perhaps a good lesson. NEVER let your guard down.

  2. R2 Dad, November 8, 2018 at 11:20 p.m.

    USWNT finishing in a tight match like this needs to improve, even if this was "just" a friendly. Is there a link to a replay of the entire match?

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