A brace by Sophia Smith, a penalty by Alex Morgan and a curling finish by Lindsey Horan saw the USWNT win the first of two friendlies against Nigeria this past Saturday.
Vlatko Andonovski selected a familiar line up to what we had seen during the CONCACAF W Championships and it paid off as the USWNT limited Nigeria to just four shots on target overall, with only one of those shots being a testing one for Alyssa Naeher. Had it not been for Chiamaka Nnadozie in goal for Nigeria, the deficit would’ve been even larger as the USWNT’s frontline constantly threatened the goal only to be stymied by Nnadozie.
The USWNT threatened right from kick off but didn’t find the back of the net until the 14th minute when Sophia Smith popped up with her first of two on the day.
After a goal kick by Nigeria was won in midfield by Sofia Huerta, Nigeria tried to flick the ball away from an awaiting Alex Morgan but instead, the ball fell kindly into Smith’s path as she raced towards goal. The Portland forward then held off her defender and finished well into the bottom corner to give the USWNT the lead.
The second US goal came in the 25th minute when Nigeria tried to break away after a US corner but the ball was won back quickly by Huerta before Nigeria could mount a counter. The USWNT then looked to quickly pass it towards goal and when the ball fell to Lindsey Horan and she cut inside before shooting with her left foot, there was no doubt that she would score.
Vlatko Andonovski loves to see his fullbacks push up and be creative forces in the final third so he’ll be pleased with the third goal of the game which saw Emily Fox become the creator for Sophia Smith. The Racing Louisville left back charged forward before picking out Smith, who had made a great run in front of her defender to be able to tap home Fox’s cross.
Despite not being able to get a third before being substituted, Sophia Smith was in the mix of things for the USWNT’s fourth goal as well. Her run inside the box during the second half saw the hosts win a penalty which Alex Morgan had no problem tucking away.
Nigeria were missing their star in Asisat Oshoala who’s out due to injury but they had more than enough firepower out there to trouble the USWNT. The fact that they didn’t was a disappointment for many as we expected them to give the hosts a much more difficult game. They play each other once again on Tuesday so we’ll see what adjustments both teams will make after this first friendly and how that will affect that result.
For now, the USWNT put together a solid performance and laid done more foundational steps for what they want to be as a team once the World Cup rolls around.