The U.S. Women’s National Team ended their scoreless drought on Thursday night, and they did so in a pretty big way.
After sputtering through the SheBelieves Cup the last time the team took the field, the USWNT responded by winning, 4-0, in the first of two friendlies against Russia on Thursday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The USWNT opened the scoring early on when a pass from Carli Lloyd found Crystal Dunn, whose shot from distance slid past Russian defenders and into the bottom right corner of the net for a 10th minute goal.
The second came eight minutes later through Allie Long on a corner. In a clustered penalty area, Long was found and easily headed the ball into the bottom left corner.
Dunn grabbed her second, the game’s third, just four minutes before halftime. After receiving the ball from a Russian giveaway on the edge of the penalty area, Dunn ran into the area and scored in the same corner she did earlier in the match.
The world champions were given a chance to extend the lead in the 66th minute, when Mallory Pugh was fouled in the penalty area by Russian defender Tatiana Sheikina, earning a penalty for the USWNT. Long, looking for her second goal, stepped up to take it, but she sent the ball over the crossbar.
Long, though, eventually did get her second finish of the night. Four minutes later, she was left unmarked in front of Russia’s goal, and Pugh sent a perfect ball to her head for the fourth and final goal of the match.
After experimenting with a back three since the end of last year, USWNT head coach Jill Ellis went back to playing with four in the back, playing Long in midfield. The USWNT looked more comfortable against Russia than they did throughout the SheBelieves Cup last month, where the back three received its toughest test. That being said, the level of opponent must be taken into consideration, as the U.S. went from some of the top teams in the world in Germany, England, and France, to an inferior Russia team.
Ellis also handed a first cap to Megan Oyster of the Boston Breakers, who played 23 minutes at right back. Additionally, Amy Rodriguez made her first appearance since the end of 2015 after taking 2016 off to give birth to her second child. The forward played 10 minutes in her return to the national team.