The opening match of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s pre-Olympic run was expected to be a cakewalk, but it instead turned into a tougher-than-expected test for Vlatko Andonovski’s squad.
The USWNT extended its unbeaten run to an even 40 on Thursday night with a 1-0 friendly win over Portugal at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Sam Mewis broke a goal-less deadlock in the 76th minute in a surprisingly nervy match for the Americans. Executing on a corner, Christen Press sent the ball in and Mewis drilled in a header at point-blank.
The 𝐓𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 takes Texas! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/FS9Aj7yJG6
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) June 11, 2021
The win marks the 10th all-time against the Portuguese, who deserve plenty of credit for fending off 21 shots from the Americans before the concession.
Portugal goalkeeper Inês Pereira stole the show for the visitors, stuffing a handful of promising USWNT opportunities from open play throughout the evening.
With the Olympic roster selections looming, not a lot was learned from the overall pedestrian performance with veteran players, all the way up to Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, having forgettable evenings.
The Americans looked destined to make it a lopsided victory with a fast start, but their first-half dominance didn’t produce goals and head coach Vlatko Andonovski left it up to his starting lineup to figure it out in the second half.
He ultimately held off on making substitutions for 73 minutes before sending on Carli Lloyd, Sophia Smith, and Emily Sonnet.
One area of strength throughout the night was the defense, which put the clamps on Portugal’s attack for the duration of the match and only allowed four Portugal shots. Crystal Dunn was lively on the left side and found her way forward to threaten some offensive production a handful of times.
None of the three substitutions factored into the game-winning goal, but Lloyd had a goal disallowed after being called offsides, and it could have been a major rise in her stock had it stood.
The team should have been better, but it is worth mentioning that it is not at full strength with Tobin Heath and Julie Ertz nearing their returns from respective knee injuries.
Next up for the USWNT is Jamaica on Sunday at Q2 Stadium in Austin.