Commanding performance: Keeper Casey Murphy comes up big in U.S. debut

After the USA's 3-0 win over Australia on Saturday in Sydney, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski gave newcomer Casey Murphy perhaps the biggest compliment you can give a goalkeeper.

She not only calmed the nerves of her teammates on the field but she calmed the nerves of the coaches on the sidelines, too.

The 3-0 scoreline doesn't reflect how desperate the situation got for the USA late in the first half, hanging on to a 1-0 lead from a goal after 24 seconds.

Loaded up front with Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord and the great Sam Kerr, the Matildas were carving apart the U.S. defense. When they weren't breaking lines, the U.S. midfield -- captain Lindsey Horan in particular -- was giving them the ball in dangerous positions.

Australia could have scored two or three goals but for Murphy, and the one time she was beaten, Kyah Simon missed a sitter from inside the 6-yard box.

Kerr was twice foiled by the 6-foot-1 Murphy, on a shot from distance in the 33rd minute and again in the 45th minute with a foot save. Shortly after that, it was Foord's turn, and the Arsenal forward's shot headed to the far corner was tipped away by Murphy with one of her eight saves.

"The last 10 minutes of the first half we basically relied on Casey," said Andonovski afterwards. "We needed her there, and when we needed her the most she came up huge. I thought it was good for her. She gained a lot of confidence."

The USA used the break to regroup, and came out a different team in the second half. It got a second goal in the 49th minute and cruised to a 3-0 win.

"In the second half, she just owned it," added Andonovski. "She gave a lot of confidence to backline -- gave a lot of confidence to the coaching staff. We were a little calmer, too."

The cap was the first for Murphy with the USA, but she has been in camp with the team before, beginning with a pair of friendlies against China in June 2018, following her senior year at Rutgers. Shortly before, Murphy moved to France, where was named the French league's top keeper in her one season with Montpellier.

In 2021, Murphy joined the North Carolina Courage and tied Adrianna Franch’s NWSL record for most shutouts in a season with 11. The Courage, the 2018 and 2019 NWSL champion, fell in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to the eventual champion Washington Spirit, 1-0, in overtime but not before Murphy made 13 saves.

The USA only had a couple of days of practice before the first of two games against Australia with a team that featured only four 2019 world champions in the starting lineup.

"We tried a few different styles in building out," Murphy said on a Zoom call after the game, "and if it didn't work, we skipped it and moved on. Obviously, it was a lot of trial and error. Once we found something that worked, we kept with it."

One of the biggest challenges was the atmosphere. The match drew 36,109 fans at Stadium Australia in Sydney, a record crowd to watch the Matildas on home soil.

"I thought this was a great experience for Casey," said Andonovski. "It couldn't get any better for her, playing in front of a great crowd, very loud, very stressful, against some of the best forwards in the world. What else can you ask for? She came up big."

Goalkeeper has not generally been considered a position of concern for the USA as it builds toward the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. But Alyssa Naeher, who hasn't played since the Olympics, is 33, and Adrianna Franch, who replaced Naeher when she was injured in the semifinals against Canada, is 31.

At 25, Murphy is a year younger than the two other keepers on the current trip, Jane Campbell, who has seven caps, and uncapped Bella Bixby.

What stood out about the New Jersey native -- Bridgewater-Raritan High School and the PDA Slammers -- wasn't just her shot-stopping. It was, despite her young age, her command of the area and the confidence she exuded.

"I feel comfortable saying that even though this is the first cap for Casey," said Andonovski, "it will be just one of many."

6 comments about "Commanding performance: Keeper Casey Murphy comes up big in U.S. debut".
  1. R2 Dad, November 27, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.

    Murphy is huge in goal and athletic, which is what the Nats want. Played a solid game, so should get more reps there going forward. However, I'd be curious to learn more about this: ""We tried a few different styles in building out," Murphy said on a Zoom call after the game, "and if it didn't work, we skipped it and moved on. " Is she not good with her feet? I'll have to go back and watch more. 

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, November 27, 2021 at 11:51 p.m.

    This was a starting lineup that hadn't played together before. From GK to 6.

  3. R2 Dad, November 28, 2021 at 2:33 a.m.

    I find it odd she was such a blue-chip player, participated at all the U levels, yet this is her first USWNT cap at age 25? That is absurd. How do the Nats explain this? 

  4. Paula Sanjines replied, November 28, 2021 at 1:42 p.m.

    Keeper is a tough position to break into. I recommend you listen to the Just Women's Sports podcast interview with Allysa Naher. Very eye opening. I didn't know how hard it was. Because you need consistency in that position coaches don't want to take risks switching players around. And they will never give up a sub to swap keepers (unless they have to due to injury)

  5. frank schoon, November 29, 2021 at 10:32 a.m.

    I don't understand the euphoria about  Murphy's goalkeeping....Yes, it looks nice but when you peel off all the layers what many think looks so spectacular than you'll see that these are straight forward saves a goalie suppose to stop ... One shot came right at her from a distance and she had to take maybe one step to thwart the ball from going into the goal...The second shot she stopped was a shot attempted with the ankle ,thereby it had no power, and she had the angle.
    The third shot came from angle right at Murphy, and thwart off the shot.....
    The fourth shot, again, was right at her and she thwarted it off....

    We'll be hearing now what a great goalie Murphy is, when in fact she had a good day for doing work what she should be capable of doing, nothing out of the ordinary, once you remove the 'bells and whistles'.

  6. Aris Protopapadakis, November 29, 2021 at 6:44 p.m.

    To my mind she looks like the next great US goalkeeper. We haven't had that since Hope Solo was minding the net. Somehow I never found Naher sufficiently convincing...

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