EAST HARTFORD – The United States Women's National Team remained perfect in pre-Olympic Games competition after beating Mexico, 4-0, Thursday at a rainy Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in the first match of the 2021 WNT Send-Off Series.
The United States scored twice in the first half and added two more in the second stanza, while goalkeepers Alyssa Naeher-- a Stratford native-- and Adrianna Franch combined for the shutout.
“There were several things that I was very happy with,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “First I was happy to see some of the team combinations that we had. Then I was also happy to see some of the sub-group combinations, I thought we saw some connections between players that was really good.”
The sister connection of Samantha and Kristie Mewis started the scoring for the United States during the 21st minute. Sam took a nice feed from older sister Kristie at the top of the box and fired one past Mexico keeper Emily Alvarado to make it 1-0.
The goal counted as the first sister-to-sister strike in USWNT history.
“I honestly didn't have to do much of the work,” Kristie Mewis said. “[Megan] Rapinoe played a crafty little ball through to me, I took a couple little touches and saw Sam wide open on the top of the box. Of course, we all know how good Sam's shot is so I just passed it to her and I kind of had a feeling when I passed it to her that she was going to take a touch and score.”
Sam Mewis came out flying for the Americans in the first 45 minutes as the Massachusetts product had a handful of terrific scoring chances.
The United States doubled its lead during the 39th minute on more crisp passing, with Christen Press counting as the beneficiary this time around.
Press tapped in a beautiful ball from Rapinoe in-tight, 18 minutes after Mewis' game-opening goal.
A couple of chances from Alex Morgan, including a header off the crossbar, highlighted the remainder of the American's first half attack.
“I was happy to see the timing and the spacing of the players,” Andonovski said. “We expect, to some degree, that to work when we have Rapinoe, [Crystal] Dunn and Becky [Sauerbrunn] who have played on that left side for a long time together. Then Kristie Mewis, I think she did a good job. We went to the left side, we went to the right side, we went to the middle.”
The second half started a bit slow as conditions worsened, but Tobin Heath quickly fired up the 21,637 in the crowd with a long-range rocket that clanked off the post and in during the 74th minute.
“The crowd was awesome today, especially in the rain,” Heath said. “The goal was great. Like I said, I had a long time to think about what it would be like getting back on the field. You play the game a lot in your head while you're not doing it. It was one of things that kind of slowed down and it was picture-perfect. It was a great transition ball from [Morgan] and I just took a little look and saw that I could do it.”
Heath returned to game action for the first time on Thursday after recovering from an ankle injury.
Press potted her second of the night on a nifty deflection just off the left post after a hard cross from Tierna Davidson during the 85th minute. The goal wrapped up a dominant performance from the United States, which outshot Mexico, 29-5.
With the Olympic roster now set, the United States look as confident as ever heading into the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I do think that it was a little bit of a relief, naturally, to get named to the roster,” Kristie Mewis said. “We're just kind of moving forward now as a team and it feels so good to just have the team set and move forward.”
The two teams will meet back up on Monday for the second match, with kickoff set for 5 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.