USA-South Africa: Women's Friendly Player Ratings

May 12 in Santa Clara, California
USA 3 South Africa 0. Goals: Mewis (Lavelle) 37, Mewis 78, Lloyd (Pugh) 90+2.
Att.: 22,788.

The USA opened final preparations for the Women's World Cup with a labored 3-0 win over fellow finalist South Africa. The Banyana Banyana sat back all game and did a good job of containing U.S. pressure until they tired in the last quarter of an hour. With still more than four weeks to go before the USA opens play against Thailand in Reims, Coach Jill Ellis worked on getting as many players as possible extended minutes and using players in the multiple roles they might play in France.

USA-South Africa: Highlights

USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)

Alyssa Naeher had little to do to collect her second shutout of the year. The most dangerous South Africa chance came late in the first half when Sibulele Holweni tried to catch Naeher off her line, but her long attempt went wide of the goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 44/- (31)


Kelley O'Hara returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the SheBelieves Cup and was a constant presence in the U.S. attack, coming close on a lobbed attempt early in the game. Crystal Dunn started out at left back, moved to right back and then finished the game in midfield though she did not make her presence as felt as she is capable of. Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn had little to do against a South African attack that rarely got near the U.S. penalty area.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals) 116/2 (30)
5 Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage) 38/0 (25)
5 Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals) 156/0 (33)
4 Crystal Dunn (NC Courage) 83/24 (26)


With Lindsey Horan sidelined with a hip injury, Sam Mewis got the start alongside Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle in midfield and was the star of the game with its first two goals. She moved to her left and then to her right to score the first goal from outside the area and got on the end of a cross from Megan Rapinoe in front of the goal to score the second goal. A foot save by backup South African keeper Kaylin Swart denied Mewis a hat trick. Ertz, who played with a giant wad of gauze in her mouth to stop the bleeding from a cut, moved to center back in the second half while Lavelle, who set up Mewis' first goal, exited after 60 minutes.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 80/18 (27)
7 Sam Mewis (NC Courage) 48/11 (26)
6 Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) 25/6 (23)


The U.S. attack saw plenty of the ball but they struggled to get themselves in good positions and break down the South Africa backline. Christen Press got the start in place of Rapinoe and had lots of room to work with but created few good opportunities. Tobin Heath's best chance came right before the end of the half when she went off but it was stopped at the near post by keeper Andile Dlamini. Indicative of the U.S. problems in the first half was Alex Morgan's quiet performance.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) 148/28 (30)
4 Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) 160/101 (29)
4 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 114/47 (30)


Three subs were made to start of the second half: Megan Rapinoe came on for Heath, Allie Long replaced Dahlkemper and took Ertz's spot at holding midfielder and Tierna Davidson replaced O'Hara and played at left back. Rapinoe set up Mewis' second goal, playing a quick free kick, and also crossed the ball into the middle when Mallory Pugh fed Carli Lloyd for her 108th career goal, which moved her past Michelle Akers into fourth place on the U.S. all-time scoring list.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars) 20/1 (20)
5 Allie Long (Reign FC) 43/6 (31)
7 Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC) 151/44 (33)
5 Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 272/108 (36)
4 Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns) 32/0 (25)
5 Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) 51/15 (21)
TRIVIA. Mewis and Lloyd are now tied with Heath, Morgan, Pugh and Rapinoe for the U.S. scoring lead in 2019 with three goals apiece.

May 12 in Santa Clara, California

USA 3 South Africa 0. Goals: Mewis (Lavelle) 37, Mewis 78, Lloyd (Pugh) 90+2.
USA -- Naeher; O'Hara (Davidson, 46), Dahlkemper (Long, 46), Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Ertz, Mewis, Lavelle (Sonnett, 60); Heath (Rapinoe, 46), Morgan (Lloyd, 60), Press (Pugh, 77).
South Africa --
Dlamini (Swart, 68); Ramalepe, Vilakazi, Matlou (Mbane, 53), Van Wyk; Seoposenwe, Jane, Biyana, Mulaudzi (Dhlamini, 52); Mthandi (Fulutudilu, 78), Holweni (Kgoale, 74).
Yellow cards: none. Red cards: none.
Odette Hamilton (Jamaica).

USA/South Africa

Shots on Goal:
Corner Kicks:

10 comments about "USA-South Africa: Women's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. Wooden Ships, May 13, 2019 at 11:02 a.m.

    I’m sorry and hopefully wrong in France, but our attacking in the final third isn’t very dynamic. It is predictable however, which is worrisome. While she has scored a ton Morgan leaves me wanting. Ellis has committed to the 4-3-3 but most of the time it appears to be hopeful in its attack. I think it will a difficult task to repeat, as it is historically, but to depend on dumping it in the 18 probably won’t be enough. Have we ever partnered Lloyd with Pugh, up top? 

  2. Nick Gabris, May 13, 2019 at 12:52 p.m.

    Agree, Ships! Interesting how the USWNT section does not allow anymore comments on their articles regarding the various games played. I guess the comments were too negative on J.Ellis coaching and selection methods. It will not be easy for the US at the WC.

  3. Bob Ashpole, May 13, 2019 at 3:03 p.m.

    You have to keep in mind the coaching objectives. 1) To peak at the knockout stage. 2) To familiarize all players with their expected roles. 3) To rehearse select pieces of the team tactics.

    As far as this game goes, I agree with WS that the attack in the final third was less than expected. I think the problem was in the tactical choices made in approaching the final third which limited play in the final third. I really don't believe in putting details on line for everyone to see.

    I am not worried though. The US has the players. If there is a better winger in the world than Tobin Heath right now, I would like to know her name. The first goal by Mewis was brilliant as was Morgan's movement off the ball on that play. At least I think it was Morgan I saw. (I got a brief glimpse of someone's back. The camera's focus was on Mewis.) 

    I have no problem at all with Ellis's coaching and selection methods.

  4. R2 Dad, May 13, 2019 at 3:06 p.m.

    If the Couva failure did not institute change in the Nats silo on the mens side , what are the odds continued success of the women will cause the Chicago mob to alter their course? Even if we lose in the semis in France, there is zero chance of change other than Ellis. It will all stay the same, just rotating the HC as if to say, "see, we listened to all the naysayers and changed coaches--you should be happy now." England and Australia are just as fit, Spain, France and Japan are more technical.  We are in the uncanny valley of soccer, too good to fail regularly but too ossified to change and improve. Michelle French for head coach! Then our women can be the best rec kickball team evaaaaar!

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, May 13, 2019 at 4:46 p.m.

    I remember having this conversation 3-4 months ago and agreeing with you saying how disappointed I was that Ellis was not moving toward positional play. But this is the month before the finals and the rosters have been selected. This is not the time to change how the team plays.

  6. R2 Dad replied, May 13, 2019 at 7:53 p.m.

    I guess my point is, Bob, that as far as USSF is concerned, there is never a good time to change how the team plays! Change Bad! Status Quo good!
    Sure, we're doing the best with what we've got, and Ellis is now just tuning the squad ahead of France. But change must come. I just wonder how large the tail needs to be before it starts wagging the dog.

  7. E Velazquez, May 13, 2019 at 9:07 p.m.

    The game yesterday was technically poor. there was poor coaching from the start and the playerrs did  show to have  poor undertanding of current modern soccer. With this team  it is douftful we will advance far. Its time to change the coach AS quicky  as possible once the cup is over. .The coach has failed  to prepare the  team in these 4 years. The players have shown no motivation to improve  except for Ms Rose  Lavelle who  can control the ball and has fairly quick ability to distribute the ball. Ms Pugh  has not improved a bit in the last 4 years since she became a member of the team/ All expectstions are now frustrations. The blame has to go to the coach who likely does not ecourage and does not demand self improvement. Morgan  is slow and  can not shoot low  balls, that are   more diffincult to stop for all keepers. Ms Press does not have idea about stopping the ball , look for the open player and then pass or serve the ball. Soccer is not just to shoot or kick the ball. It need mental agility and daily learning. We wonder  if the members of this team watch games  of the great leagues, otherwise: how do you  improve your game?.  Since World cup 1999 our team is worse insted  of being the greatest on earth.. Sad but we aere afraid the WNT is destined to fail in France if they  keep playing like yesterday.. Oh not to forget!! the showing of  the player Rapino  suggests that she is not an american and should not play for our team, we want players who love  this country  and repect our Nacional Hymn. She will play for herself and will not play for the team or for our Nation.  Until she learns to respect the National Hymn she should be respectfully  separated from playing for our country

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, May 16, 2019 at 2:27 p.m.

    With respect, I wonder if you are being too pessimestic. On the final goal, Rapinoe, Pugh and Lloyd showed all the desired attacking traits (skill, vision, speed of play, and creativity). I agree with you though that we need to see that type of play as the norm rather than the exception. 

  9. R2 Dad, May 13, 2019 at 9:46 p.m.

    In the pre-game, Jill Ellis, curiously, gives a shout-out to her mother on Mother's Day. Which is strange, since she is English and British Mother's Day was March 31st:
    I guess she gets a two-fer?

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, May 13, 2019 at 10:52 p.m.

    Not strange at all. Jill's family moved here when Jill was 16 if I recall correctly.

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