Samantha Mewis (3) and Portugal defender Joana Marchao (5) battle for the header during the first half. (Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports)
Before the U.S. women’s national team departs for Japan next month, one thing is certain. The Americans have plenty of work to do, especially on their finishing touch.
The USWNT dominated just about every category, outshooting the Portuguese side, 26-4, placing 10 attempts on target to the European side’s one. It also took 15 corner kicks to Portugal’s one.
Against a Portuguese side that has never qualified for a World’s World Cup, the Olympics or UEFA Women’s Championship, the USWNT did just about everything but fill the net on a regular basis in its 1-0 win in the Summer Series at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston Thursday night.
“We’ll be the first to say we created a lot of goalscoring opportunities and didn’t put enough away and I think Vlatko [Andonvoski, head coach] will probably remind us of that,” said midfielder Sam Mewis, who tallied the lone goal of the match. “So, I definitely think we have higher expectations. I personally didn’t really get enough of my shots on target. I think all of us know that we can be a little bit more clinical and then around the box and just with our decisions in the final third and executing those shots are chances on goal. Luckily, we have a little bit of time, and some more games to try and do better.”
Mewis spared the USA total embarrassment, heading home the lone goal of the night off a Christen Press corner kick at the near post for her 22nd international goal in the 76th minute.
“The coaches called us to start crowding in there,” Mewis said about the corner kicks. “So, it definktely was a good call by them and great ball by Christen. I was actually just thinking. I feel like all of the goals I’ve scored have been assisted by Christen. I feel like she always gives me great services.”
Press became the 14th player in USWNT history to record 100 career international points (60 goals, 40 assists).
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who was rarely tested, recorded the clean sheet as the Americans extended their unbeaten streak to 40 games.
The 𝐓𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 takes Texas! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/FS9Aj7yJG6
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) June 11, 2021
The hosts dominated every important category, but poor decision making, sloppy passes and finishing denied the USWNT.
The team definitely needs to sharpen up its offensive play.
Give Portugal some credit as it deployed a “low block,” keeping several players back to deny the USA scoring opportunities. If the Americans can’t break that block, especially early in matches, they could be in for some long games in the Olympics.
“That was my post most huddle speech, actually,” Andonovski said. “This is what we’re going to see several times. Hopefully, we will be there for six games. I’m pretty sure that in hot weather, humid, with short breaks, a lot of things will set up, or similar to the way Portugal setup. It was a good test for us. I felt like we created enough opportunities to score more than one goal
“Two things that are good. One, that we were disciplined enough, didn’t give absolutely anything away, which is very positive because usually games like this we know how they can end up. The second positive thing is that, once again we found a way. And so, that’s very good.”
Andonovski elaborated about the near misses, particularly the close-range attempts.
“A couple of things,” he said. “That could be one that need a little bit a little bit of time together.”
He said the team had one session together prior to the game and that wasn’t a full one.
“So, it’s hard,” he said.
“TThe other thing is, we know that the players are coming from from a really hard, two weeks from NWSL. So they do carry a little bit of their load with them.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to play these games a little bit overloaded, a little bit tired because … [there] may be games in the group stage … one in the knockout stage too, a little bit tired overloaded, fatigued, and we have to be focusing [and] concentrated to do well.”
Veteran forward and second-half substitute Carli Lloyd thought she had tallied her 125th minute goal in the 81st minute, but she was ruled to be offside. Lindsey Horan started the sequence with a free kick near the penalty arc. Goalkeeper Inês Pereira, who was outstanding all night, spilled the ball. Lloyd it home, but then came the call.
The USWNT will try to improve its finishing as it meets Jamaica in the second game of the Summer Series in Houston Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.