WNT Cruises to 8-1 Win vs. Romania in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team put on a show in its penultimate game of 2016, defeating Romania 8-1 in front of 16,425 fans at Avaya Stadium. It was the first meeting between the countries in women’s soccer.

The U.S. put on a dominant display from start to finish that was highlighted by forward Christen Press scoring her fourth career hat trick. Alex Morgan replaced Press at halftime and scored two goals while also seeing her well-struck penalty kick spectacularly saved by Roxana Oprea in the 64th minute.

Twenty-eight-year-old forward Jessica McDonald earned her first career cap, while Morgan Brian scored her first goal of 2016 on a diving header. Tobin Heath scored the USA’s second goal and forced a Romania own goal in the final minute of regulation time.

The USA moves to 21-0-3 this year and is just one win away from finishing 2016 unbeaten. It would mark just the third time in program history that the USA has gone unbeaten in a calendar year in which played 10 or more matches. The USA went 18-0-4 in 2006 and 13-0-3 in 2013. The penalty kick loss to Sweden in the 2016 Olympics officially counts as a tie.

The U.S. WNT will finish its 2016 schedule vs. Romania on Sunday, Nov. 13, at StubHub Center in Carson, California ( TICKETS). The match will air live on FS1.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Christen Press (Crystal Dunn), 8th minute:
From the left wing, Tobin Heath lofted a long ball into Romania’s penalty box. Dunn run under it and attempted to control it, but her touch rolled instead right into the path of an unmarked Press who drove a stinging left-footed blast over the goalkeeper and just under the cross bar from 16 yards out. USA 1, ROU 0 GOAL

USA – Tobin Heath (Christen Press), 10th minute: Press picked up the ball in the center of midfield and dribbled forward before playing a pass on the ground into the left side of the box that rolled past Morgan Brian to Heath. Heath then curled a stunning shot around the goalkeeper from a tough angle and into the upper right hand corner to double the USA’s lead. USA 2, ROU 0 GOAL

USA – Morgan Brian (Andi Sullivan), 25th minute: Dunn won the USA a free kick on the end line to the right of Romania’s goal. Former U.S. Youth National Team standout and Stanford University junior Andi Sullivan served a beautiful cross into the heart of the box for a diving Brian to head into the lower left corner after a powerful run left her defender trailing behind. USA 3, ROU 0 GOAL

ROU – Laura Rus (Ştefania Vătafu), 31st minute: Vătafu collected a loose ball deep in Romania’s defensive half and sent a long ball past the U.S. defense for Rus to chase. U.S. goalkeeper, Ashlynn Harris attempted to cut off the pass by charging way out of her penalty area but was beaten to the ball by Rus, who rounded the U.S. ‘keeper and with an open net, rolled her shot into the goal from 25 yards. USA 3, ROU 1 GOAL

USA – Christen Press, 34th minute: Tobin Heath advanced the ball into Romania’s final third with a nifty run that saw her dribble past multiple defenders before passing the ball off to Dunn, who took it to the right end line and cut a sharp pass back toward the penalty spot. An unmarked Lynn Williams put a one-time shot on goal that was blocked by a defender but fell right to Press at the left post and she made no mistake from close range, powering a low shot between the left post and goalkeeper. USA 4, ROU 1 GOAL

USA – Christen Press (Morgan Brian) 38th minute: The U.S. moved the ball down the left touch line, eventually working it to Brian in the Romania penalty box. She took the ball to the end line before passing back toward the penalty spot for an onrushing Press to place a hard, side-footed shot into the right side netting to complete her hat trick. USA 5, ROU 1

USA – Alex Morgan (Crystal Dunn), 52nd minute: Crystal Dunn once again used her speed to beat her defender to the right end line before lofting in a cross to the center of the six-yard box where Morgan was waiting. With a defender closing in, Morgan did well to send a powerful header right between the hands of Romania’s goalkeeper as she attempted to shuttle over and cover the center of the goal. USA 6, ROU 1 GOAL

USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsay Horan), 75th minute: Morgan’s second goal was nearly an exact replica of her first, as Dunn yet again beat her defender to the end line to send in a high cross to the center of Romania’s box. This time Roxana Opera came to punch the ball away but Horan beat her to the ball. Horan’s header bounced to Morgan just outside the right hand side of the six-yard box and with a tricky left-looted volley, she lifted the ball over a defender and into the back of the net. USA 7, ROU 1 GOAL

USA – Own Goal (Maria Ficzay), 92nd minute: Horan did well to evade a defender and play the ball out wide to Heath on Romania’s left flank. Heath then went at her defender and beat her to the inside before curling a shot towards the right side of the goal. Ficzay attempted to block the shot, but instead deflected the ball into the left side of the net as goalkeeper Roxana Opera dove towards the right post. USA 8, ROU 1 GOAL FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
ROU – Roxana Oprea, 64th minute:
Allie Long drew penalty kick with a slick move past a Romania defender that resulted in her being hacked down in the left hand side of the penalty area. Alex Morgan took the ensuing penalty kick for the USA and sent a powerful shot toward the right corner, but Opera made a leaping save, punching the ball away to deny the opportunity for the U.S. to further pad its lead.

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Additional Notes:

  • The USA began the match in a 3-4-3 formation with Casey Short, Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn in the back, Andi Sullivan and Morgan Brian in the middle; Kealia Ohai and Tobin Heath on the wings; and Crystal Dunn, Lynn Williams and Christen Press up top.
  • Press, who has now scored in three consecutive games, recorded her fourth career hat trick, having scored three times in the first 38 minutes of tonight’s match. She has 11 goals this year and 40 in her career. She also notched her fourth assist of 2016.
  • Press’ previous hat tricks came at the end of 2014 against Argentina (when she scored four times), against Costa Rica in August of 2015 and against Trinidad & Tobago in December of 2015.
  • Press is the fourth WNT player to score double-digit goals this year. Carli Lloyd (17), Alex Morgan (17) and Crystal Dunn (13) have already done so.
  • Press becomes the fifth player in WNT history to score in double-figures in goals for three consecutive years. Mia Hamm (twice), Abby Wambach (twice), Tiffeny Milbrett, and Carli Lloyd also accomplished the feat.
  • Dunn and Press made their 24th appearance of 2016, tied for most on the team. It was Dunn’s 16th start in her 44th international cap. She has scored 17 international goals, including 13 this year, the third-most on the team in 2016. She most recently scored against Switzerland on Oct. 23. She also now has seven assists on the year.
  • Brian, who is just 23 years old, scored her first goal of the year and fifth of her career in her 17th start of 2016 and 62nd international appearance.
  • Alex Morgan scored two goals and now has 17 this year and 73 in her career. She is tied with Carli Lloyd for the team lead in goals in 2016. Morgan is within two goals of tying Cindy Parlow for seventh on the USA’s all-time scoring list.
  • Tobin Heath, making her 19th start of the year, scored her sixth goal of 2016 and 18th of her her career.
  • Ashlyn Harris made her third appearance and start in goal of 2016, earning her 11th international cap.
  • Allie Long made her 13th start of 2016 and 15th appearance of the year. Since re-joining the WNT in April, she has more than quadrupled her career caps. Long came into this year with only four WNT appearances but with today’s start, she earned her 19th cap. She has three goals and two assists this year as well.
  • Kealia Ohai made her first WNT start and earned her second cap.
  • Stanford junior Andi Sullivan and Chicago Red Stars’ Casey Short both earned their third caps and third consecutive starts. Short has played all 90 minutes in the last three games.
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WNT Nov 11, 2016

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Romania Women’s National Team
Date: November 10, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Avaya Stadium; San Jose, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Attendance: 16,425
Weather: 70 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:      1          2          F
USA                             5          3          8
ROU                             1          0          1

USA – Christen Press (Crystal Dunn)     8th minute
USA – Tobin Heath (Christen Press)      10
USA – Morgan Brian (Andi Sullivan)       25
ROU – Laura Rus (Ştefania Vătafu)        31
USA – Christen Press                           34
USA – Christen Press (Morgan Brian)    38
USA – Alex Morgan (Crystal Dunn)        52
USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsey Horan)      75
USA – own goal (Maria Ficzay)             90+2

USA: 24-Ashlyn Harris; 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.) (8-Julie Johnston, 46), 20-Allie Long, 2-Casey Short; 7-Kealia Ohai (3-Samantha Mewis, 46), 12-Andi Sullivan (5-Kelley O’Hara, 61), 6-Morgan Brian (9-Lindsey Horan, 46), 17-Tobin Heath; 19-Crystal Dunn, 23-Christen Press (13-Alex Morgan, 46); 16-Lynn Williams (21-Jessica McDonald, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Alyssa Naeher
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

ROU: 12-Roxana Oprea; 3-Lidia Havristiuc (15-Teodora Meluta,55), 6-Maria Ficzay, 2-Andreea Corduneanu (17-Mara Batea, 66), 16-Ana Maria Gorea; 4-Ioana Bortan (capt.),  7-Raluca Sarghe (5-Adina Giurgiu, 28), 14-Alexandra Lunca, 10-Andreea Voicu (18-Mihaela Ciolacu, 62); 8-Ştefania Vătafu, 9-Laura Rus (19-Loredana Popa, 83)

Subs not used: 1-Linda Kajtar, 13-Beatrice Tarasila, , 21-Cristina Carp
Head Coach:
Mirel Albon 

Stats Summary: USA / ROU
Shots: 30 / 4
Shots on Goal: 17 / 2
Saves:  1 / 10
Corner Kicks: 10 / 0
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 5 / 0 

Misconduct Summary:
ROU – Laura Rus (caution)                         25th minute
ROU – Alexandra Lunca (caution)                26
ROU – Teodora Meluta (caution)                 59 

Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Deleana Quan (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Felisha Mariscal (USA)
4th Official: Karen Abt (USA)                                                                                                                                                                

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Christen Press


The Vast Importance of NWSL

On January 12 in Los Angeles, the National Women’s Soccer League held its fifth NWSL College Draft, kick-starting the professional career of 40 players, all with big dreams that most likely include playing with the U.S. Women’s National Team.

As the USA begins its long road towards qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, head coach Jill Ellis continues to emphasize the importance of watching players and deepening the player pool. While the platforms her and her staff are using to scout this array of new talent ranges from Youth National Teams, to college to players overseas, the importance of the NWSL has taken center-stage.

A Chance to Be Seen

For many reasons, having a domestic professional women’s league in the United States is a tremendous asset for both coaches and players. It allows the U.S. WNT coaches to observe a large pool of players in a competitive environment on a consistent basis. It gives the players focus, the ability to continuously train and the opportunity to play full 90-minute matches while facing some of the best players in the world.

U.S. WNT newcomer Lynn Williams and co-captain & two-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd

“We’ve always communicated with NWSL coaches about players and we watch as many games as we can,” Ellis said. “As we don’t have a world event in the middle of this NWSL season, it will allow us to be even more connected to the league and at this time in the cycle, getting to watch these games and these players is extremely important.”

For the more established players in the WNT, the NWSL is a valuable place to sharpen their skills and show Ellis they’re putting in the effort and producing the performances to keep earning spots on one of the most competitive teams in international soccer. For the newcomers and those just breaking into the league, the NWSL is a chance to be seen, to spark the interest of Ellis and her staff and show that they’re deserving of an invite to a WNT camp.

New Opportunities

As Ellis has made deepening the WNT player pool a high priority, several NWSL players have recently been given a chance to test their mettle within the National Team environment. Last October, Ellis called 11 uncapped players to camp which included eight from the NWSL in Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (NC Courage), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Shea Groom (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Arin Gilliland (Chicago Red Stars), Merritt Mathias (Seattle Reign) and Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage). In that group was also two 2016 NWSL draftees in Jane Campbell (Houston Dash) and Ashley Hatch (NC Courage).

Houston Dash's Morgan Brian and Kealia Ohai; Chicago Red Stars' Arin Gilliland & Casey Short

As the league has continued to grow, it’s become even more of a platform. The lesson? Someone is always watching so every game is an audition. Prime examples are Williams and Short who would both tell you that if it wasn’t for the league, they probably wouldn’t be wearing the U.S. Soccer crest today. Both have now earned four caps and are part of this year’s January Camp.

Breaking In
As Ellis resumes the process of evaluating players during January Camp, a handful of new NWSL names have now begun to earn multiple call-ups. Among them are goalkeeper Adrianna Franch of the Portland Thorns, NC Courage defender Jaelene Hinkle, Short, Williams, Ohai, Dahlkemper and NC courage attacker Jessica McDonald and Orlando Pride’s Kristen Edmonds. The latter two earned their first call-ups last November. All these players, except for the injured Dahlkemper, are currently in California at the WNT’s January Camp, hoping to show once again why they belong and should remain on Ellis’ radar. Additionally, Ellis also added first-time call ups Sarah Killion of Sky Blue FC and NC Courage’s Taylor Smith for evaluation during the January training camp.

First time WNT call-up and NC Courage forward, Taylor Smith

This infusion of newer players has brought a different perspective and fresh energy. The new players have had to learn how to adapt and fit into a highly competitive environment while the veteran players have had to elevate their games in the battle for roster spots. It has also brought enthusiasm and healthy competition as everyone understands that nothing is guaranteed. For Ellis, making a roster – for a training camp or a game – won’t come down to a number of caps or World Cup experience, but to performance; to the players who have earned the right to take the field through consistently productive performances.

For these new players that cut their professional teeth in the NWSL, it’s quite literally, game on.

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WNT Jan 17, 2017

Breaking Down the WNT’s Top 10 Goals of 2016

In 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team scored 92 goals so choosing a Top 10 was not an easy task. We selected our "Top 10 Goals of 2016" based on the quality of the goal, the skill of the finish, the importance of the goal and a dash of sentimental value (#ThanksHAO). Tell us, which is your favorite WNT goal of 2016? Did your favorite make the list?

1. Alex Morgan vs. Germany (SheBelieves Cup; March 9): The game-tying goal brought the USA back into the game after an early strike from Germany’s Anja Mittag had given the European Champions the lead in the de facto SheBelieves Cup Final. Meghan Klingenberg evaded a defender near midfield and lofted a ball over the top of the German defense down the left side into the path of the sprinting Morgan. She let the ball bounce twice, as she muscled out a first defender, before deftly lifting it over Saskia Bartusiak with her left foot and ripping a right-footed shot into the net in two fluid steps. The importance of the goal, the level of difficulty and the skill and style with which she finished takes the top spot in 2016.

2. Carli Lloyd vs. Switzerland (International Friendly; Oct. 23): Lloyd has scored 96 goals in her career including quite a few spectacular strikes from distance, but it’s safe to say this should be among her best. While nothing may ever top her midfield shot in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, this rocket against Switzerland comes close. Some swift interplay between Andi Sullivan, Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara resulted in Lloyd receiving a pass from O’Hara and advancing toward the Switzerland goal. Lloyd crushed a lightning bolt strike from 27 yards out for a finish that spurred FOX’s play-by-play announcer Glenn Davis to describe as “hit with no regard for humanity.” It was the equalizing to make it 1-1 in what would be a 5-1 U.S. victory.

3. Crystal Dunn vs. England (SheBelieves Cup; March 3): Dunn had a terrific year for the USA. She scored 14 goals, including her five-goal performance against Puerto Rico, and also scored her first Olympic goal. But it was her game-winning tally against England at the SheBelieves Cup that stood out. After a competitive first half between two of the top teams in the world, Dunn came in as a substitute in the second half. The goal came after Meghan Klingenberg did some nice work on the ball to the left of the penalty area and then slipped a pass between two England defenders for Dunn, who took two touches into the left corner of the box and then ripped a shot into the top right corner for an incredible finish in the 1-0 U.S. victory.

4. Christen Press vs. Costa Rica (Olympic Qualifying; Feb. 10): Press is a prodigious goal scorer. In 80 games with the WNT, she has scored 41 goals, which includes 12 in 2016. There was one however that stood tall amongst the rest as it required a high level of poise and skill. In the opening game of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, Tobin Heath found Press with a cross into the penalty area from the left side. With her back to the goal, and just outside the six-yard box, she settled the ball with the outside of her right foot away from a defender, spun around and finished into the roof of the net on the left side. Classy finish and classic Press.

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WNT Dec 2, 2016
US Soccer

November Camp and Games End 2016 on a High Note for USA

The U.S. Women’s National Team wrapped up its 2016 schedule with a pair of big results against Romania, winning 8-1 on Nov. 10 and 5-0 on Nov. 13 to finish the year with a 22-0-3 record. Since the penalty kick loss to Sweden at the Olympics officially counts as a tie, 2016 marks only the third time that the WNT has finished a year unbeaten in regulation when it has played 10 or more matches.

A 23-player roster trained for five days in San Jose, California at Stevens Stadium – the home field of Santa Clara University where Julie Johnston starred for four seasons – before it’s Nov. 10 matchup against Romania at Avaya Stadium.

“It’s always special to come back here,” Johnston, who played the entire second half just a stone’s throw from her old campus, said. “My school is one hop away from the stadium so having our second-to-last game of 2016 here is definitely exciting.”

Three uncapped players were on the November camp roster in defender Emily Menges, midfielder Kristin Edmonds and forward Jessica McDonald, upping the total of uncapped players that head coach Jill Ellis named to rosters for the final four games of 2016 to 14.

Against Romania in San Jose, the U.S. women dominated the match scoring eight goals in front of more than 16,000 fans. The effort was led by Stanford grad Christen Press, who scored her fourth career hat trick, finding the net three times in the first 38 minutes of the game.

For Press, as well as the entire player pool, the end of 2016 is just a transition towards a continued evolution and growth that will be needed in less than three years when the USA attempts to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

“Right now I have a lot on my mind in terms of where I want to be as a player and how I want to push myself as a player and nudge myself to the next level,” Press said after her three-goal performance. “The goals were the last thing on my mind and I was just focused on trying to be more aggressive and put more pressure on the other team and work on the things that I feel I need to work on to have a more prominent role on this team. Scoring is something I take so much pride in and have so much passion for.”

Alex Morgan added two goals, upping her total to 73 international tallies. The California native is now two away from tying Cindy Parlow for seventh on the all-time scoring list. Morgan finished the year with 17 goals, tying Carli Lloyd for most on the team in 2016. 

Additionally, the USA benefitted from a Romania own goal, as well as goals by Tobin Heath – who scored a fantastic angled shot – and Morgan Brian, who found the back of the net for the first time this year, on a diving header no less.

McDonald earned her first cap in San Jose, making her the eighth player to debut under Ellis in 2016. The other seven were: Abby Dahlkemper, Ashley Hatch, Kealia Ohai, Mallory Pugh, Casey Short, Andi Sullivan and Lynn Williams.

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WNT Nov 16, 2016
US Soccer

Five Things to Know: Romania

The U.S. Women’s National Team will wrap up its 2016 schedule on Sunday, Nov. 13 against Romania at StubHub Center in Carson, California (6:30 p.m. PT on FS1).

Here are a few things to know about the USA’s final opponent of the year:

The 51st Team
The two November friendlies marked the first matches between the USA and Romania in women’s soccer. Romania is the 51st different country the U.S. Women will have played in their history. The USA won its first meeting four days ago on Nov. 10, 2016, 8-1 with goals from Press (3), Morgan (2), Heath, Brian and an own goal.

Strong Showing
Romania, currently 36th in the FIFA rankings, finished second behind France in Group 3 of Qualifying for the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro, surpassing Ukraine, Greece and Albania in its group. Romania had a strong showing in the Qualifying round. It lost to world power France only 3-0 in its first game of the Qualifying round, but bounced back nicely to tie Ukraine 2-2 and defeat Albania, 3-0 and Greece, 3-1. On the second match of the home-and-away series, Romania started a lot more confident and loss to France by a slim margin of 1-0. All in all, it outscored its group opponents, 17-8 throughout the eight-game Qualifying tournament. Its second place finish in the group earned the Balkan nation a spot in the playoffs against Portugal, as these two were the two group runner-ups with the worst record, for the final berth to the 16-nation tournament being held in the Netherlands.

Barely Out
In the playoffs, Portugal and Romania drew 0-0 in the first leg in Portugal, but a 1-1 draw in Romania gave Portugal the final berth to the Euros next summer on away goals despite being tied on aggregate. 

Laura Rus
With the teams tied at 0-0 after the second leg of the playoff against Portugal, the game went on to extra time, and it was Portugal which struck first, scoring in stoppage time of the first extra time period. Down 1-0, second half substitute Laura Rus, who came on in the 85th minute, gave Romania a chance to qualify when she tied the match in the 111th minute of play. Romania was unable to find the second goal that would have qualified them for the Euros for the first time in the history of the women’s game in the country, but the match did show a promising improvement for the young squad. Rus is the leading scorer for Romania (21 goals) and she also tallied the sole goal against the USA in the teams' first meeting on Nov. 10 after teammate Stefania Vatafu collected a loose ball deep in Romania's defensive half and sent a long ball past the U.S. defense for Rus to chase. Run beat Ashlyn Harris to the ball, rounded the U.S. 'keeper and with and open net, rolled her shot into the goal from 25 yards out. 

Goal Scorers
Midfielder Ştefania Vătafu was the top scorer for Romania during Euro Qualifying, tallying four goals in eight games, while Alexandra Lunca, Laura Rus, Adina Giurgiu and Andreea Voicu notched two each. These five players combined for 12 of Romania’s 18 goals in the Qualifying tournament and playoff, and they are all in the roster set to face the USA on Nov. 10 and Nov 14 in California.

Romania Womens National Team Roster by Position:
(2): Roxana Oprea (Olimpia Cluj), Linda Kajtar (ACS Vasas Femina Odorhei)

DEFENDERS (5): Andreea Corduneanu (Olimpia Cluj), Lidia Havristiuc (Olimpia Cluj), Maria Ficzay (Medyk Konin, POL), Ana Maria Gorea (ASA Târgu Mures), Teodora Meluta (Olimpia Cluj)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Ioana Bortan (Olimpia Cluj), Adina Giurgiu (Olimpia Clurj), Raluca Sarghe (Konak Belediyespor, TUR), Ştefania Vătafu (Olimpia Cluj), Andreea Voicu (Olimpia Cluj), Beatrice Tarasila (Olimpia Cluj), Cristina Carp (Olimpia Clurj)

FORWARDS (5): Laura Rus (Icheon Daekyo, KOR), Alexandra Lunca (Olimpia Cluj), Mara Batea (Olimpia Cluj), Mihaela Ciolacu (Olimpia Cluj), Loredana Popa (Olimpia Cluj)

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WNT Nov 13, 2016