In the second of two friendlies, the USWNT managed a 2-1 win against the visiting Super Falcons on Tuesday night in Washington D.C.
With this win, the USWNT extends their home unbeaten streak to 71 matches.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not shake up his starting XI too much. Tuesday’s squad featured three different players from the lineup that started against Nigeria in Kansas City on Saturday. Casey Murphy was in for Alyssa Naeher in goal, Naomi Girma played at center back for Becky Sauerbrunn and Sam Coffey started in place of Andi Sullivan in the midfield.
A low scoring first half
When these two teams met on Saturday, the USWNT scored four goals, two per half with the opening goal coming in the 14th minute. On Tuesday, first half got off to a slow start, with the opening goal coming from an own goal in the 24th minute. The goal was scored by Nigerian defender Blessing Demehin after Mal Pugh put a ball across the box, and Demehin’s outstretched foot redirected it into the back of the Nigerian net.
That would be the only goal in the first 45 minutes, despite a number of chances for the United States who stayed on the front foot for most of the first half.
Even with the attacking trio of Mal Pugh, Alex Morgan and Sophia Smith all getting into the final third and taking shots, not a single one was able to make it past the Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.
you still gotta celebrate. pic.twitter.com/8jJrx9EUHw— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 6, 2022
Anchoring the midfield and making her international debut was Portland Thorns player Sam Coffey. The 23-year-old has seen a meteoric rise with the Thorns following her selection as the 12th overall pick in this season’s NWSL draft. She has made 15 regular season appearances for the Thorns and notched an assist.
On Tuesday night in the midfield, Coffey showed what she could do as a defensive midfielder, making 10 recoveries and skillfully directing play through the midfield for a full 90 minutes.
After the game, head coach Vlatko Andonovski praised Coffey’s performance, stating she was “very clam on the ball, very composed,” and applauded her for a good performance especially for her first cap in front of a full stadium.
Second half excitement
In the second half, the game opened up following an equalizing goal from Nigeria in the 50th minute. The US lost the ball in the midfield and Sofia Huerta was unable to clear the long ball, allowing the halftime substitute Uchenna Kanu to pick it up, slip past the US defense and slot a shot past goalkeeper Casey Murphy at the far post.
It wouldn’t take long for the USWNT to find the go-ahead goal. After Megan Rapinoe subbed on for Sophia Smith in the 65th minute, only two minutes would pass before she notched an assist, serving an excellent ball into the box which Rose Lavelle headed off the far post and into goal past Nnadozie.
Rose Lavelle once again proved how pivotal her presence in the midfield is for this squad. Tuesday’s goal marked her fourth of the year and 22nd of her career. With six assists so far this year in addition to her four goals, Lavelle has now been directly involved in 10 goals in the USA’s last 11 matches.
In all, the USA took 16 shots with seven on goal, compared to Nigeria’s five shots with two on goal. Nnadozie and the Nigerian defense were fundamental to keeping the Super Falcons in the game, with the keeper making six saves on the night. The team was able to hold the USWNT to only two goals, and notch one for themselves after capitalizing on a mistake from the US. Following Saturday’s 4-0 result, Nigeria was able to make the necessary adjustments and truly test the USWNT.
The celebrations didn’t stop after the win. Following the match, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association stayed on the field for the official signing of the historic Collective Bargaining Agreements which achieved true equal pay between the USWNT and the USMNT.
Now, with the World Cup just around the corner, the USWNT must first fly across the pond to face England, recent winners of the UEFA Women’s Euro, on October 7.