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Three Takeaways From USA 3-0 Portugal

Their “just ok” is still irrepressible

Portugal v United States - USWNT Victory Tour Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The United States Victory Tour rolled into the Twin Cities on Tuesday night, lining up for their second clash with Portugal in less than a week. If you saw last Thursday’s game— or, indeed, just about any USWNT friendly in recent years— you pretty much know how tonight’s game went too.

There’s not a whole lot of insight to glean from a game like this, but there’s still some notable takeaways. Here’s what we’ve got.

Run Of Play Is Overrated

Here’s the breakdown for all three of the US’ goals:

  • Goalmouth scramble
  • Penalty
  • Header off a corner kick

Only one goal developed during the run of play, and it was— and I say this affectionately— kind of a garbage goal. With many other teams, this might be a little concerning. With the defending world champions, it’s painfully on-brand.

Goals are goals, and they secured a win in a fairly low-stakes game. Still, it would probably be good for the US to rely less on set pieces and penalties to get their W’s. One has to wonder if Kate Markgraf is thinking the same thing while she’s looking at resumes.

Ertz Is Undroppable — For Better Or Worse

With as many injuries in the squad, and how handily the US beat Portugal last week, you’d figure that decisions about team selection and substitutions would be made with squad rotation in mind, and a desire to keep the injury list from growing much more than it has.

But that’s not how Jill Ellis does business.

Nowhere was that more evident than in the decision to let Julie Ertz play a full 90— again. The decision held up; she was critical to the US’ result, helping keep the center of the park locked down and snuffing out Portugal’s attacks before they could really get going. The team won, she didn’t get hurt, everybody’s happy.

But it’s only a matter of time before running her ragged like this has consequences, and it’s unclear what Ellis plans to do without Ertz available. She’ll either need to figure that out as a Plan B, or else give Ertz a rest. (Rory Dames will certainly thank her for the latter.)

The US’ “Second Gear Game” Is Still Strong

The USWNT raise eyebrows with their blowout wins, but that’s not actually the hallmark of their strength. What makes them such a scary team is that they can control the game like they did and drop three goals on their opponent despite not actually playing well.

That’s really what makes the US so tough to beat. They can practically sleepwalk through a game and still be nearly untouchable. There’s no real point in waiting for them to have an off night; even when they do, they usually still win.

What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments below!