Winners and losers of Morgan, Lavelle and USWNT friendlies
The U.S. women’s team got what it wanted from friendly matches against Sweden and France.
The team tested in their first game, He drew 1-1 against Scandinavian opponents, four days later they beat France 2-0.
Coach Vlatko Andonovski will also be particularly pleased as he saw his team respond to the low measure against Sweden as they had a chance to try out new tactical appearances and are likely to reduce their summer even further before the Olympics.
With just three games left in June before Andonovski selected 18 players from Tokyo, here are the winners and losers of the two friendly matches in April:
Winner: Alex Morgan
For the first time in almost two years, it looks like the real Alex Morgan is back.
It is understandable that the 31-year-old has been slowly recovering since she gave birth to her first child last May, and has suffered delays due to a knee injury and a positive diagnosis of Covid-19.
But after a 25-minute cameo against Sweden, Morgan started against France he put his stamp into play early, won the penalty and then scored a quality goal in the first 20 minutes.
Andonovsky noticed something else in this Morgan camp as well.
“In the last couple of practices it was almost like a slit, or a little more focused, more focused and we were talking about how he regained his killer instinct as an employee,” Andonovsky said of the French match.
It’s been a long way back, and Morgan has slowly moved on, having just started two of the five appearances for the USWNT this year. But if the team had a game to win tomorrow, it would definitely start.
From what we’ve seen this month, it’s ready.
Loser: Catarina Macario
Macario is firmly in the bubble for the Olympics list, and a strong display this month could have been a huge boost in his case.
Unfortunately, the 21-year-old had to be removed from the list due to a Covid-19 appearance at his club, Lyon.
Although his gap was out of his control, Macario, more than most bubble players, needs to get more replays with the USWNT.
His talent is unquestionable, but Macario only made his debut with USWNT in January and has only three names under his name.
“We’d love to be here and see a little more, especially with the limited opportunities we have before the Olympics,” Andonovsky said.
“It simply came to our notice then [at Lyon] and select for the next camp. “
June’s USWNT camp will be Macario’s last chance outside of his club’s field to be on his Olympic roster. Unfortunately for the youngster, he missed the penultimate chance.
Winner: Rose Lavelle
Andonovsky did not hide his belief Rose Lavelle now deserves to play more than Manchester City.
“Do I want to see Rose a little more on the field with City? Yes. Do I think he deserves to be more on the field? He’s absolutely one of the best players in the world,” Andonovsky said before the start of both games.
Regardless of what happens to his club team, Lavelle is still a key piece for the USWNT.
These friendships showed that even if his city’s career went as planned, Lavelle could gain some valuable value in England by bringing him to the USWNT.
The 25-year-old has played as a winger in City compared to his preferred role as the No. 10 playmaker.
And this week against France, Lavelle deployed in the second half to occupy Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz in midfield.
“He was a wide striker, he had a very free role in the middle of the pitch to overload the midfield and create a four-v-three. I think he did well,” Andonovsky said of Laveler.
Lavelle will still get plenty of minutes with No. 10, but in an Olympic list that only supports 18 players, the additional variability it can bring will only improve his value.
Loser: Lynn Williams
Williams has placed great value on the USWNT in creating pressure and opportunity, but it has been hoped that his speed and sense of attack will begin to return to more goals and support.
Against Sweden, however, Williams had a big impact after 57 minutes. Against France, he did not even make the selection for the day.
Even if Andonovski is a fan of Williams, the USWNT has plenty of chances to attack, and any slip can be close to the Olympics.
Unfortunately for the NC Courage star, the April friendly will not increase her chances of going to Tokyo.
Winner: Sophia Smith
Although Williams may see his Olympic chances somewhat damaged, Smith continues to make his way to a difficult spot in Tokyo.
Returning to an issue, Smith’s versatility could serve as a way for Andonovsky to choose his 18th, either as a center-forward or in a broad offensive role, as he did against France.
The youngster is likely to go for a spot on the roster from the outside, but he seems alive in a cameo against France and has earned the praise of one of the biggest stars on the team.
“Soph has come and done really well,” Morgan said of the 20-year-old. “He’s been very open to learning from some old players. He’s really brought in positive energy.
“He likes to take on one-v-one players and he likes to see the confidence of a young player. I was very happy to get the minutes tonight and I think he has a bright future with the national team.”
Loser: Midge Purce
Purce, who played four of the five games in the USWNT in 2021 earlier this month, continues to struggle for an Olympic spot on the roster.
The Gotham FC star was named on the friendly list against Sweden and France, but did not make it to the match day.
It’s not clear if the injury was a factor, but it was a surprise to see the 25-year-old not named a substitute in either match.
Purce, who could play on offense or on the outside back, was confused at an Olympic venue before April, but the forward-looking situation is unclear.
At the very least, he’ll probably be impressed with NWSL in the next six weeks.