On Thursday night, the United States Women’s National Team began its 2021 Summer Series, a string of friendly matches in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, with a 1-0 victory over Portugal.
A Christen Press corner kick in the 76th-minute found the “Tower of Power” Sam Mewis, which led to the only goal scored of the night. Thursday’s result marked 40 straight undefeated games – 54 unbeaten on home soil – for the number one team in the world and defending World Cup champions.
The following players hoping to represent the U.S. in Tokyo saw their stocks rise or fall thanks to Thursday’s match.
Lindsey Horan – trending up
With veteran players Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath both out with knee injuries but set to return later this summer, head coach Vlatko Andonovski placed Lindsey Horan in for Ertz’s “No. 6” role in center midfield. As a sort of test to determine if Horan could step into Ertz’s position and drive the line, Horan did everything that was asked of her. She was able to perform her defensive responsibilities on the field making her a front runner to be named to the final roster.
Christen Press – trending up
The star of the game was forward Christen Press, who was appropriately selected as Woman of the Match. Currently on a career high, Press has been involved in 31 goals in her last 33 appearances for the national team, scoring 13 of those goals with 18 assists. The balance and flow she creates on the right wing along with other forwards Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, makes the veteran player a staple for the Olympics.
Lynn Williams – trending down
Currently on the fence for the Olympic Roster is forward Lynn Williams. Williams was subbed in at the 89th-minute for Press but hasn’t been able to finish plays as well as she has at the club level for the North Carolina Courage. One of 11 players to score for the U.S. this year, Williams is a player to keep a close watch on throughout the Summer Series to see if she can execute final third efficiency under pressure at the highest level.
Portugal’s low block defense in this opening game created a disjointed, unconnected U.S. team lacking patience and space to move the ball left and right. Looking forward, the USWNT must work on changing the point of attack and successfully finishing set pieces to break down opponents.
The USWNT is set to play Jamaica in the second game of the Summer Series on Sunday, June 13, at 10 p.m. ET.