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Rose Lavelle leads USWNT’s fluid offense to victory despite Nigeria posting impressive shutout streak


Rose Lavelle scored the go-ahead goal and the United States Women’s National Team won its 13th consecutive game with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria on Tuesday night at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. The USWNT also benefited from an own goal to extend the team’s unbeaten run. streak on American soil to 71 games.

The teams met for the first time on Saturday in Kansas City, Kansas, and the United States took a 4-0 victory. Nigeria were short of six starters due to injuries and visa issues. The own goal gave the United States an early lead in the 24th minute, but Nigeria equalized through Uchenna Kanu after the break.

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It was the first goal the United States gave up this year. The goal also ended a nine-game shutout streak for the Americans.

The United States regained the lead thanks to Lavelle’s goal from a Megan Rapinoe cross in the 66th minute. It was Lavelle’s fourth goal this year.

After the match, American women and their male counterparts officially signed the collective agreements reached in May with US Soccer that give players on both sides equal pay.

JUMP TO: Player Ratings | Better/worse performers | Highlights & Moments | Postgame Quotes | Key Statistics | Upcoming meetings


Quick reaction

1. Lavelle leads a more fluid attack

Where Rose Lavelle goes, success follows. On Tuesday, that meant large areas of the pitch – not exactly his most ideal position. It was all by design, though. Lavelle started the game in the No. 10 role, the one she’s held for some time in the United States starting lineup.

But on Tuesday — much like in Saturday’s 4-0 win — Lavelle drifted to the USWNT right flank to fill the space cleared by winger Sophia Smith. The moves are intentional and they make the USWNT extremely difficult to defend. USA’s first goal in the 24th minute was officially an own goal, but once again it was patient play, with Lavelle being the catalyst. In the moments leading up to that goal, Lavelle repeatedly found space to exploit on that right side as Smith overloaded the central areas and scrambled Nigeria’s relatively inexperienced back line.

Lavelle was rewarded in the 66th minute when she scored a spectacular game winner, a diving header that forced her to contort for a ball served behind her. It wasn’t Lavelle’s first diving header of the year, nor the first time she’s been at the center of the USWNT’s attack. Lavelle in wide areas was once seen as a problem, a waste of a central midfield talent pinned on the touchline. It was a major explanation for his bizarre 2020-21 season at Manchester City. There, he was often asked to play as a winger.

In this system for the USWNT, she is #10 who is incentivized to overload the wide channels. She does this with great success.

2. Impressive broken shutout streak

The USWNT’s nine-game shutout streak ended in spectacular fashion when Uchenna Kanu, a second-half substitute for Nigeria, hammered a shot into the top corner to equalize four minutes after halftime. It was the first goal allowed by the USWNT in 880 minutes, tied for the third-longest streak in team history. Kanu slipped behind Sofia Huerta on the United right side and Huerta misplayed the through ball, allowing her to fall to Kanu for the spectacular shot that eluded recovering Alana Cook.

It was a fitting reward for a Nigerian team that came out in a more attacking configuration than in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the United States. It also served as a mentality test for a relatively inexperienced backline. Cook teamed up with Naomi Girma at center as captain Becky Sauerbrunn came on the bench for this game, while Huerta and Emily Fox retained their roles as full-backs.

Fox did well defensively as Michelle Alozie attempted to combine with Ifeoma Onumonu on the Nigerian right side, and it was Fox who played the ball deep to Mallory Pugh for the USWNT’s first goal in the 24th minute . Huerta also continued to push the opposing flank high and combine with the front line.

Kanu’s goal – and the answer to it as well – will raise further questions about America’s ideal starting line. Cook was the starter alongside Sauerbrunn, although Girma offers a wider passing range as evidenced by his involvement in that opening goal. Huerta continuing to push high also means more exposure moments for Cook.

USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke about building relationships within the squad’s subgroups. The Cook-Huerta combination on that right side is obviously one of them.

3. Need a number 6? Sam Coffey entered the chat

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski was asked last week how many defensive midfielders he thinks he needs on a 23-man World Cup roster. His answer was cheeky: 2.5. Andonovski plans to have two natural No. 6s and another player who can play there among several midfield positions. Lindsey Horan is most likely that utility knife in Andonovski’s mind, having tried her as a No. 6 last year after Julie Ertz suffered an injury.

Horan is a talented two-way midfielder, but playing her as a No.6 was part of a disastrous team performance in the Olympic opener, a 3-0 loss to Sweden. Andi Sullivan is clearly the starting No. 6 at this point and at this time, and Ertz’s future plans remain unknown. She recently gave birth to her first child and is not under contract with any professional team. Coffey can therefore step in at a relatively quick pace if there is a No. 6 backup role up for grabs.

She started on Tuesday against Nigeria for her first United States senior cap, just over two months after earning her first call-up ahead of World Cup qualifying (then joining the qualifying squad as a substitute). for injury). On Tuesday, Coffey looked like a natural on both sides of the ball. She had a few moments that could have been better, but even in those she quickly recovered to make a needed tackle or get back on the ball and get the attack going again. All things considered, she began to plead her case.


Player ratings

United States: Casey Murphy, 6. Naomi Girma, 6. Alana Cook, 6. Sofia Huerta, 6. Emily Fox, 7. Sam Coffey, 7. Lindsey Horan, 7. Rose Lavelle, 8. Sophia Smith, 7. Mallory Pugh, 7. Alex Morgan, 6 years old.
Subtitles: Megan Rapinoe, 7 years old. Hailie Mace, 6 years old. Ashley Hatch, 6 years old.

Nigeria: Chiamaka Nnadozie, 6. Osinachi Ohale, 7. Glory Ogbonna, 6. Toni Payne, 6. Blessing Demehin, 5. Michelle Alozie, 6. Christy Ucheibe, 6. Rofiat Adenike Imuran, 5. Onyi Echegini, 5. Rasheedat Ajibade, 6 .Ifeoma Onumonu, 7.

Subtitles: Uchenna Kanu, 7 years old. Nicole Payne, 6 years old. Vivian Ikechukwu, 6 years old. Gift Monday, 6 years old. Amanda Mbadi, 5 years old.


Best and Worst Performers

BEST: Rose Lavelle, USA

Lavelle appeared all over the night and was player of the game before she even scored her big winner.

WORSE: Rofiat Adenike Imuran, Nigeria

Constantly struggled to deal with the Smith-Lavelle overload on that flank.


Highlights and Moments

After the match, American women and their male counterparts officially signed the collective agreements reached in May with US Soccer that give players on both sides equal pay.

There was a post-game celebration mode before the signing ceremony for the new collective agreement.

USA captain Becky Sauerbrunn called the new CBA a “huge win” for the players.


After the game: What managers, players said

“I want to thank you all for the support, all the social media posts, the messages of support, the chants of ‘Equal Pay’ at really fun times, showing up to our games. You make a difference and you you’re really, really the best fans in the world.” – Captain of the USWNT Sauerbrunn on the signed ABC

“I have to give a lot of credit to everyone involved, the women’s national team and their PA (players’ association), the men’s national team and their PA, and everyone at US Soccer. There were so many people who helped, who worked together to make this happen.” — Cindy Parlow Cone, President of American Football


Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– The USWNT conceded their first goal since April 9, ending a 9-game shutout streak, which was tied for 3rd all-time in team history. In the 880-minute streak, the United States had outscored their opponents 31-0 in that span.

– Nearly 22 years between Nigeria’s goals against the USWNT – the Super Falcons’ last scoreline against the United States was a 3-1 loss on September 20, 2000 at the Olympics.

– The USWNT now has a 13-game winning streak, the second longest under manager Vlatko Andonovski (longest was 16 from November 2019 to February 2021).


Next

United States: Next up will be a major clash on October 7 against Euro champions England at Wembley.

Nigeria: A visit to Japan for a friendly match on October 6.



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