Article by Leanne Elston
Jill Loyden started in goal, while the backline comprised Ali Krieger (returning after a lengthy absence due to injury), Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Kelly O’Hara. Christen Press, earning his first cap, started in midfield with Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, and Tobin Heath, and Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach continued their strike partnership up top.
The US wasted no time in getting things going, as Morgan had a shot cleared off the line in the 2nd minute and Boxx’s follow-up was saved. Enjoying most of the possession and applying constant pressure to the Scotland goal, the US didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoreboard.
In the 13th minute, Press notched her first goal in a US shirt with a great shot from outside the box, putting the US up 1-0. The US continued to create chances in front of goal, with Wambach almost connecting with a free kick at close range in the 23rd minute and Lloyd breaking through in the 25th minute only to have the Scotland keeper come out to make the save.
Press grabbed a second goal in the 31st minute when she headed the ball in at the far post after a perfect cross from Heath. Press is the third player to score two goals in her first appearance for the USWNT; she joins Cindy Parlow and Sherrill Kester on the list.
Worryingly for the US, Alex Morgan went down with an injury to her left ankle in the 39th minute and had to be helped off the field. She was subsequently replaced by Sydney Leroux. Morgan was to be evaluated post-game.
After controlling most of the play in the first half, the US headed into halftime 2-0 up on Scotland and looked poised to add to their tally in the next 45 minutes. Nicole Barnhart took Loyden’s spot in goal to start the second half.
In the 52nd minute, Shannon Boxx brought down the ball from 25 yards out and took a shot off the half-volley that rocketed into the net and put the US up 3-0. Just a couple minutes later, though, a poor clearance from Sauerbrunn allowed Scotland’s Little to pull one back with a goal from just inside the 18.
Lauren Cheney came on for Abby Wambach in the 55th minute, while Yael Averbuch replaced Shannon Boxx in the 66th and Kristie Mewis stepped in for Christen Press in the 72nd. Averbuch especially made an impact on the match, ripping a shot off a free kick from 35 yards out that would have been a screamer of a goal if not for the crossbar.
The final substitution of the match saw Julie Johnston come on for Becky Sauerbrunn in the 83rd minute; it was Johnston’s first cap.
In the 86th minute Scotland came close to a second goal, but Barnhart managed to change direction and make a fantastic save to keep the US comfortably ahead. While Scotland’s play improved in the second half, the game still belonged almost entirely to the US, who sealed the win with another goal in the last minutes of the game. Averbuch sent the ball into space for Leroux, who rounded the keeper and slotted it home for goal number four of the night.
The USWNT takes on Scotland again on Wednesday, February 13th in Nashville, TN at 8:00 ET. The match will be streamed live on ussoccer.com.