Carli Lloyd celebrated her 13th goal of the season. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
CHICAGO – The U.S. women’s national team came close, very close to closing out the tenure of head coach Jill Ellis with a victory Sunday, but the Americans could not find the game-winning goal.
So, the Women’s World Cup champions settled for a 1-1 draw and saw their 17-game winning streak snapped with the result before a crowd of 33,027 at Soldier Field.
The Americans last lost in an international friendly at France in January.
After earning a 2-0 win against Korea in the teams’ previous meeting three days prior in Charlotte, N.C., the USWNT sought to send Ellis off with a final victory but found itself in the unusual position of playing from behind.
In the 34th minute, Ji So-Yun hit a low drive from just outside the top of the box to give Korea 1-0 advantage, but only a minute later, the USA nearly leveled matters when Megan Rapinoe played a set-piece short into the box for Crystal Dunn, whose shot was blocked out for a corner kick. Rapinoe whipped the corner from the right flag to the back post as Lloyd out jumped her defender to bury a header in the far left-side netting.
The goal was her team leading 13th goal of the year and a preview of what could have been a memorable winner.
The USA had chances in the first half as Rose Lavelle headed a Tobin Heath cross just over the crossbar in the 11th minute, and Julie Ertz, for the second match in a row, was denied the opening goal by the woodwork when she blasted a left-footed drive off the right post in the 26th minute. The two near goals seemed to awaken the visitors, who raised their energy level and physical play, earning them multiple cautions and a brief lead.
The USA played a much better second half, taking the game to the Koreans, but the physical play continued as did the hosts’ frustrations with the woodwork. Substitutes Jessica McDonald and Mallory Pugh were denied late when their headers struck the goal frame as the USWNT offense pushed even harder for a game-winner after Korea’s Son Hwa-Yeon was sent off in the 84th minute for a second bookable offense.
It seemed that Lloyd had bagged the winner deep into added time as she timed her run perfectly to tap in a cross at the back left post. Although the assistant referee’s raised flag indicated what would have been the winning goal would be ruled offside.
The USWNT will wrap up its schedule with two November matches – the first against rival Sweden at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio Nov. 7 (7:30 p.m. ET; FS1, TUDN). The USA’s final match of the year against Costa Rica is scheduled for Nov. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla. at TIAA Bank Field (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, TUDN).