Three takeaways from the United States 4-0 win over Switzerland

usa wins

by TOM SLATER

Jill Ellis’ apparent United States Women’s National Team makeover began Wednesday night in a 4-0 win over an improved Switzerland side in a friendly at Utah’s Rio Tinto Stadium.

The new look not only included an infusion of 11 players searching for their first full cap, but a 3-5-2 formation that featured midfielder Allie Long in the middle of a three-player backline. Five players did make their initial appearance with Casey Short and Andi Sullivan starting the match. Lynn Williams, Abby Dahlkamper and local college girl Ashley Hatch coming in during the second half.

After a first-half that saw the Americans dominate but not able to push a goal past a disciplined and organized Swiss defense, the United States scored four times in the second-half to make the game a lop-sided affair.

Williams made her first-touch as a senior national team player count with a goal just 56 seconds into the second half, taking an advantage of a Swiss miscue to create her own breakaway.

That goal led to three more American goals as Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Sam Mewis all found the back of the net.

The United States will face Switzerland in the second of its two October friendlies on Sunday, Oct. 23, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota (FS1, 1 p.m. pre-game).

Here’s three takeaways from the Swiss victory:

Lynn Williams was the best of the newbies: That was obvious. When you score a goal on your first touches of your first cap, it’s going to be your night.

But she did more than just score the one goal. She was active on both sides of the field and made her touches count. She had two other quality chances but wasn’t able to pull the trigger. Swiss goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann robbed her of a second goal by deflecting her header off a Crystal Dunn cross.

Williams also helped set up the third goal of the night when she nailed a pinpoint pass to Kelley O’Hara that resulted in Press’ goal. The Western New York Flash star ran down a ball in the right corner, maneuvered past a pair of defenders and threaded a wonderful pass to O’Hara.

It was only one match –really, only 45 minutes — but William looked very comfortable and was in the middle of the attack for much of the half.

Casey Short, playing a wide midfield, did well in her first cap, especially in the first half. Her speed was a tad ahead of her technical ability but we need to see more of her.

Sullivan, the Stanford University junior midfielder, played as a holding midfielder and had an uneven outing but her good things outweighed the bad. Dahlkamper and Hatch didn’t do much in their initial appearance.

The formation didn’t pay off at first: The 3-5-2 did allow Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan more room to go forward as attacking midfielders. Horan had two chances to score very early but headed one over the bar and had Thalmann stretch out to deflect a left-footed strike.

Carli Lloyd and Dunn were paired up front for a half. Lloyd especially was feeling her way to find seams in the defense where she could work her magic.

Long did okay at centerback but the Swiss never really put much pressure on the Americans. The one dangerous chance was created by a bad touch from outside back Emily Sonnett. Eseosa Aigbogun took advantage and blasted a shot from the top of the box.  Alyssa Naeher was able to recover and get a hand on the shot to deflect it high over the bar.

It will be interesting to see how Ellis has the United States line up next weekend.

Tobin Heath still can do magic: Health had the best 90 minute performance for the United States. Her touch was spot-on, her creativity allowed her to get endline numerous times in the first half and she scored a goal on a well-aimed left footer to double the lead early in the second half.

With Ellis obviously shuffling the deck (maybe more than once), it’ll be interesting which veterans will still be in the mix in France in 2019. Lloyd for sure will be included but doubtful if she will still be the roamer. Alex Morgan, who wasn’t picked for these two matches, should also be there although her recent injuries make nothing guaranteed.

But Heath will be in her prime at 31. If she stays injury free and keeps her game up, she may be the veteran who stamps her identity on Ellis’ side and become the link between this generation and the next.