Lindsey Horan celebrates the first USA goal. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
The United States scored early and often in the opening half as it routed Mexico, 4-0, in the second and final Send-Off Series game in East Hartford, Conn. Monday, before the women’s national team departs for the Tokyo Olympics.
Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath tallied for the USA, which also had an own goal before a crowd of 27,758 at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher registered the clean sheet.
The USWNT will leave for the Tokyo Olympics in a couple of days and head coach Vlatko Andonovski felt the team is ready to go.
“I feel very good. I mean, very excited about, about the trip,” he told a Zoom press conference. “Obviously, I feel like we’re prepared, and I feel like we are moving in the right direction … [and] slowly but surely are fulfilling all the tasks necessary to be fully prepared for the Olympics.”
— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) July 5, 2021
In preparation for the Summer Games, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski decided to start a 3-4-3 formation as the first half became drill in the Americans trying to play from behind. This could become useful in close matches in Tokyo.
It worked to perfection early and late in half.
Andonovski said he wanted to use that scenario right off that bat “without disrupting the rhythm, too much. We felt like goal down scenario was best to start off with and then and then go from there change as we go.”
Players who usually deployed as outside backs played important roles in the USA’s first two goals as Lloyd was in the middle of things as well.
With the game only six minutes old, Horan put the hosts on the board, finishing off a marvelous play. Right back Kelley O’Hara sent a ball to Lloyd, who headed it onto Horan. The veteran midfielder volleyed it home for a 1-0 lead.
“That’s a next level finish,” Andonovski said. “I mean, crazy.”
The Americans doubled their lead in the 11th minute as left back Crystal Dunn crossed the ball from the left flank that an unmarked Lloyd headed home from six yards for her 126th international goal.
In command of the game, the USA broke up the game during a two-minute span late in the opening half.
Heath unleashed a 28-bullet that hit the crossbar and the hand of goalkeeper Itzel González in the 37th minute. During a scramble in front of the net, Press, who had been denied a goal due to an offside call earlier, knocked the ball off Reyna Reyes for an own goal and a 3-0 lead.
Heath, who needed only 52 seconds to score in her first game from an ankle injury in the 4-0 win over the Mexicans Thursday, made it a four-goal advantage in the 39th minute. This time Sam Mewis fed the forward and Heath slotted it home from 12 yards on the right side of the penalty area.
The USA, however, could not match the same intensity over the final 45 minutes.
It should be started that the Americans deployed a 5-4-1 formation during the final 10 minutes as it tried to get the right mindset in protecting a late lead in Japan.