USA-South Africa Women's Friendly Player Ratings

Sept. 21 in Cincinnati
USA 3 South Africa 0. Goals: Williams 32, 41, Rodman 34.
Att.: 22,016.
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Interim head coach Twila Kilgore's starting XI was comprised completely of players who were part of the USA's worst Women's World Cup — last month's round-of-16 exit. And of the 16 players who saw action on Thursday against South Africa, only three weren't in Coach Vlatko Andonovski's squad Down Under. After an underwhelming half-hour of play, the USA scored three goals in a nine-minute span, two from corner kicks. The Banyana Banyana attack, which had made some lively forays, subsided after the flurry of U.S. goals. But the USA failed to conjure further excitement and finished with a 3-0 win in which 11 of its 19 shots went wide or high.

The friendly served as a farewell game for Julie Ertz, the two-time World Cup winner (2015 and 2019) who announced her retirement after starting all four games at the 2023 World Cup.

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


Five of South Africa's six shots came in the first half and only one required a save from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who caught Jermaine Seoposenwe's effort from the far right that went straight to her. Naeher's biggest action came when she she charged out and missed getting the ball off Thembi Kgatlana as she came in wide on the left. Kgatlana ended up dribbling over the endline. 

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 96/0 (35)


That only times Kgatlana truly threatened on the frontline enabled the U.S. backline players to team up on her, theoretically allowing the outside backs to attack freely. Left back Crystal Dunn connected a simple pass during the sequence ahead of the second goal but didn't deliver when she was far upfield. Right back Emily Fox had the same problem. Shortly before being subbed, she beat two defenders before passing to a third. In the 26th minute, center back Naomi Girma caught up to a streaking Kgatlana and deflected her shot for a corner kick. Girma handled most of the buildup passing out of the back. Her central partner Alana Cook passed less consistently but sparked a counterattack that led to a corner kick with a through ball to Trinity Rodman on the wing.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

Emily Fox (NC Courage) 34/1 (25)

Alana Cook (OL Reign) 26/1 (26)

Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave) 21/0 (23)

Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns) 137/24 (31)


In her farewell game, Julie Ertz played the first 35 minutes in central midfield before being replaced by Andi Sullivan. Ertz won a corner kick with her blocked shot and from it, her header forced a Kaylin Swart save. Ertz headed another corner kick high, and she got a touch in during the buildup on the second goalEmily Sonnett defended and passed inconsistently in the early going — her turnover led to a South Africa shot in the 19th minute — but improved after the USA gained momentum following the first goal. She started the counterattack on the second goal. Lindsey Horan delivered dangerous corner kicks, the fourth of which deflected off defender Jermaine Seoposenwe's head to Lynn Williams for a close-range header to make it 1-0. Horan relayed the ball from Ertz to Alex Morgan on the second goal, and assisted on the third  with a flying back-heel pass.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

Emily Sonnett (OL Reign) 78/1 (29)

Julie Ertz (Unattached) 123/20 (31)

Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA) 134/29 (29)


Alex Morgan shot into a defender on her first opportunity and wide on her only other attempt at goal. She lost or gave away the ball nearly every time she got it, including once in the U.S. half to set up a  Seoposenwe shot. The center forward, who extended her scoreless streak to eight games, avoided complete disappointment with the assist on the second goal. Right winger Trinity Rodman, who had earlier delivered a ball from her right wing that Morgan mis-trapped near the goal area, blazed past Karabo Dhlamini to finish from eight yards for the second goal. Rodman's three other shots went wide. Lynn Williams was gifted a chance in the 4th minute when the keeper passed to her at the edge of the penalty area, but she shot high and wide. She scored her first with a close-range header and the her second to make it 3-0 when Horan's flick bounced off her stomach two yards from the goal line. The starting wingers kept South Africa's backline under pressure and forced its midfielders to focus on helping defend.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

Lynn Williams (Gotham FC) 56/17 (30)

Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave) 212/121 (34)

Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit) 23/5 (21)


Andi Sullivan set up the third goal shortly after coming on for Ertz and helped keep the USA in command of the midfield. That didn't translate into impressive attacking but at least stifled any chance of the South Africans threatening the scoreline. Morgan's replacement at center forward, Ashley Hatch, shot high and wide from long-range with her first glimpse at goal. Her effort while facing away the goal, from what looked like an impossible angle, only narrowly missed. The performances of M.A. Vignola and Casey Krueger resembled that of the starting  outside backs — their passes into the penalty area usually didn't find teammates. The second of two frontline subs, Alyssa Thompson, had little time to find her grove, and didn't.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit) 50/3 (27)

M.A. Vignola (Angel City FC) 1/0 (25)

Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit) 20/5 (28)

Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit) 27/3 (24)

Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars) 39/0 (33)

Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC) 7/0 (18)

TRIVIASouth Africa launched its women's national team program in 1993, two years after the USA won the inaugural Women's World Cup.

NOTABLE: The three players who saw action and weren't on the USA's 2023 Women's World Cup roster were second-half subs: 25-year-old debutant M.A. Vignola, Ashley Hatch (28) and Casey Krueger (33). 

UP NEXT: The USA hosts South Africa again on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago (5:30 p.m. ET).

Sept. 21 in Cincinnati
USA 3 South Africa 0. Goals: Williams 32, 41, Rodman 34.
USA — Naeher; Fox (Krueger, 77), Cook, Girma, Dunn (Vignola, 46); Sonnett,  Ertz (Sullivan, 35), Horan (Sanchez, 62); Rodman (Thompson, 77), Morgan (Hatch, 62), Williams.
South Africa — Swart; Ramalepe, Makhubela, Gamede, Dhlamini (Magama, 81); N.Cesane (Shongwe, 72), Biyana (S.Cesane, 89), Mothalo, Salgado (Kgoale, 46); Seoposenwe, Kgatlana (Kgadiete, 82).
Yellow cards: USA — Sullivan 85; South Africa — Seoposenwe 38, Biyana 45+3. Red cards: none.
Referee: Katia Garcia (Mexico). ARs: Enedina Caudillo (Mexico), Karen Diaz (Mexico). 4th Official: Kelsey Harms (USA).  
Att.: 22,016.

USA/South Africa
Shots: 19/6
Shots on target: 6/1
Saves: 1/3
Corner Kicks: 8/1
Fouls: 10/7
Offside: 1/2
Possession: 62%/38%

10 comments about "USA-South Africa Women's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. Bob Ashpole, September 21, 2023 at 11:50 p.m.

    This was the worst that I have ever seen the USWNT play.

  2. R2 Dad replied, September 22, 2023 at 12:52 a.m.

    The Nats look happier counterattacking. That may be the choice of a pragmatic coach, but that's not how the #1 team in world plays. But maybe we will make due being #4-- hard to know what USSF prioritizes these days.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, September 22, 2023 at 2:18 a.m.

    South Africa is ranked #45. We played with a double 6 against the #45th ranked team. It looked to me like they were using a rote pattern passing drill with the coach assigning players a spot on the field to stand. 

    This had to be due to long term coaching. The new coach could not have created this inert attack so quickly. What was clear was that the new coach used a game plan that had the team playing scared. That was on the interim coach. People tend to perform to people's expectations. A scared game plan leads to timid play and a lack of confidence.

    I think part of the problem was the team trying to hard to set up Ertz for a goal. It make everything predictable with repeated long services to Ertz. I though the rating for Morgan a little harsh given that Ertz was playing on top of Morgan during the time I watched before I decided to turn it off. After the first 20 minutes the soccer was too poor and boring to watch further.

    How can a national team coach have a team play like that?

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, September 22, 2023 at 2:24 a.m.

    I can't wait for someone to tell me that assigning players spots on the field to stand is "positional play".

  5. Santiago 1314 replied, September 22, 2023 at 3:11 p.m.

    Crickets from me Bob... I just watched the End of Game Interviews... Want going to Waste my Time watching that.!!!!

  6. Kevin Leahy, September 22, 2023 at 9:56 a.m.

    It is clear that, without Lavelle & Horan on the field there's no creativity. Think that DeMelo needs to get a bigger opportunity. With Girma in the back my feeling is, they will be in every game they play. The link between the backs and attacking players has to get better.

  7. frank schoon, September 22, 2023 at 10:21 a.m.

    I could only watch about 10min of this game. I have no idea what this game was even played unless it was just for Ertz....

    The only thing that stuck to me about the game was the back passing of the South Africa once they reached midfield. Instead of going forward they passed back again to an open back or centerback, after the ball HAS FINALLY TRAVELED 50meters upfield to the MIDLINE.  This is nothing new for I see this happen both in men and women games and as a matter of fact often times the ball goes all the way back to the goalie, which ,to me, is an anathema to the sport. But it only points out how bad the quality of soccer along with the player quality has become.....

    This back passing runs counter to good soccer. Yes, at times it calls for a back pass so that the receiver can one-touch it quickly going forwards , upfield ;but that doesn't happen for the ball than goes square and moves to the other side and then perhaps to the goalie again or goes for a 50/50 ball downfield....

    Guys this is what soccer has become and guess who is directly responsible for this mess... just take a guess, Licensed Coaches!!!! They are totally clueless and have no idea how to play good soccer ,especially when you're dealing with youth soccer they should give the better example other than this lack of creative ball.

    When you have so many back passes and square passes while attempting to go forwards in your own half where you numerically OUTNUMBER your opponents, tells you how BAD the positioning of the players off the ball is and lack of CREATIVE thinking about options and passes.  Today , the passes attempts are not made  to find a solution to the problem but shift the problem to your teammate and at the same able to say, " I didn't lose the ball" , no but you didn't accomplish anything either ,other than shift the problem to another uncreative nitwit teammate....

    Keep this in mind, while I explain the shock I had this week meeting one of the directors of a Youth Soccer Association who coaches 2 high level teams.

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  8. frank schoon, September 22, 2023 at 10:53 a.m.

    I usually go to Starbucks to sit outside and read my notes that I made  from interesting interviews that happened 20-30years ago and up to present stated by players who gave interesting insights about the game. Getting a coffee ,I saw a soccer coach with his badge on working diligently writing up plans of today's practices and had a huge tactical board next to him. This guy was a licensed coach, for I can smell them a mile away, they act ,talked like about soccer like a 'stepford' wives....It is so ingrained by their jargon and mannerisms ,thoughts about the sport.

    During the conversation ,I asked him if he reads Soccer America. His answer, NO!! he's never heard of it. I told that it's been around 50years or so. He proceeded to write it down in his notes....You might not like  SA or whatever ,but you can't say that you've never heard of SA, especially when with soccer and be a youth director...

    I went home and looked at this particular soccer association and the money they charge each family to pay the License coaches who, to me, don't do a goodjob developing or teaching the youth....I was in a state of shock. I read about the 'pay to play' thing but never really looked it until now. HOLY SH*T!!!  I don't mind paying coaches for good work for I myself was paid to train, coach teams...But what is happening here, the association is charging all the families to pay all of the coaches for working there. It is no longer a team paying a coach as it used to be but you're supporting a whole entity the association so that all the coaches can make a living, sort of...

    The parents don't have a way out of this other than handing over their kid ,paying the money, with the grand idea that hopefully he'll have a college ride...I'm beginning to see why PICKUP SOCCER, has no coming gets no support form these circles,is not an avenue, a better one, for these kids to learn.  Pickup soccer would be a death knell for 'pay to play'. I feel bad for the parents who really don't know any better but see that their kid is being coached and trained with a license, WHO OBVIOUSLY KNOW WHAT HE/SHE IS DOING.....

    They offer ,'toe yoga' exercises, and speed stuff... and what not .I didn't see much about skills but everything is thrown into mix.....

  9. Wooden Ships, September 23, 2023 at 11:13 a.m.

    Didn't get to see until the 80th, my great granddaughters had their soccer game. Will miss Julie like I miss Llyod. Both players I can admire. Along with Pino, this should also be a swan song for Morgan and Dunn. 

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, September 26, 2023 at 3:03 p.m.

    Dunn is still quick and can play any field position. 8 or 10 would fatigue her less than FB and extend her international career. So would sweeper, but our myopic USSF doesn't want short CBs. She has always played out of position at LB for the team. I think it is past time to find a couple more LBs.

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