A closer look at the USWNT’s 8-1 win over Romania

usa beats romania

by TOM SLATER

On the surface, it was a match much like the United States Women’s National Team has played  too many times over the past three decades. Score early, score often and totally dominate an outmanned opponent.

Christen Press scored a first-half hat trick by being in the right spot and being opportunistic and the Americans made no mistake who was the better team in an 8-1 victory over Romania in San Jose Thursday night.

Press ignited the victory in the 8th minute when she slammed home a shot after a serve played off teammate Crystal Dunn. By halftime, she added two more for her fourth international hat trick and had an assist on Tobin Heath’s goal for good measure.

Alex Morgan came off the bench to score a brace and an own goal off a Heath shot in stoppage time provided the final tally.

The United State have one more match left in the calendar year — another match with Romania Sunday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (9:30 ET, FS1).

Let’s look a little deeper at Thursday’s rout:

Romania wasn’t good: They came in advertised as disciplined and physical. A team on the rise after nearly qualifying for Euro 2017. But while they were a little physical — 3 yellow cards on hard fouls, one of which led to a goal – they were not disciplined. They couldn’t hang with the Americans. The marking was abysmal as the United States kept sending in players to find the seams between the Romanian defense.

Andi Sullivan, who had a strong game, and Morgan Brian kept making first-half runs by slicing through the defense unmarked. There were times that the US looked like it could do anything it wanted — and for much of the time, they did.

The three-back system was not really tested:  Jill Ellis seems committed to three in the back with Allie long in the middle. Thursday, she was flanked by Casey Short and Becky Sauerbrunn in the opening half and were tested twice. One resulted in a shot on goal. The other ended in a goal. Romanian striker Laura Rus scored the only goal as the Americans kept sending more players in the attack.

With Sauerbrunn pushed up, Rus was able to sneak behind Long and start on a half-field counter attack. Ashlyn Harris made a mistake in judgement by coming way out to cut off the play. But Rus easily moved around her for an easy goal.

In the second half, Julie Johnston came on for Sauerbrunn and the Amercians were not challenged in the final 45 minutes. Romania did not have a shot in the second half.

The 3-back system is worth exploring but it needs to be tested against stronger teams. There’s no question that it gives the United States in the attack but it also leaves them open to the counter.

The auditions continue: Sullivan and Short has solid games. Sullivan, playing in front of her Stanford University teammates, played the first hour and set up Morgan Brian’s goal in the first half with a laser free kick. Short was solid on defense and took her turn venturing into the attacking third.

Jess McDonald got her first cap and Western New York Flash teammate Jess McDonald and Houston Dash’s Kealia Ohai, she did not score on her first touch. Ohai made her first start with the national team and did well playing on the outside midfield. She made several moves into the attacking third and sent crosses across the box. Williams also was active and was unlucky that her shot hit a Romanian defender before bouncing to the feet of Press for her second goal.

With time on her side, Ellis can continue to look at young rising stars that she can mold into a team that will ultimately decide her legacy in 2019 and 2020.