USWNT drop opening match of 2019 to France, 3-1; lose unbeaten streak

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US players pose before a women's friendly football match between France and USA at Oceane stadium in Le Havre, on January 19, 2019. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Le Harve, France — The United States Women’s National Team is in familiar territory.

Back in 2015, the opening match of the calendar year included a tilt between the United States and France. The USWNT dropped the match, 2-0, at the Stade du Moustoir in Lorient. Four years ago, it was Eugénie Le Sommer and Jessica Houara that found the back of the net.

However, that summer, the U.S. Women’s National Team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The two teams did not compete against each other in the tournament.

USWNT drop opening match of 2019 to France, 3-1; lose unbeaten streak

This year, fate might bring the two back together. Before the match even began, Rob Stone of Fox Sports mentioned that the two sides could meet if they won their respective groups in this year’s World Cup and won their first knockout round match.

If the two teams do meet this summer — in France — the United States will hope for a different outcome. This time, at the Stade Océane in France, the United States were dominated by France.

France came out of the gate with power, eager to give the 22,780 fans a show. The crowd was sold out and predominately French. That crowd erupted when Kadidiatou Diani scored the opening goal in the 9th minute. Diani picked off a ball from Delphine Cascarino, who blew past U.S. defender Emily Fox.

Diani found the back of the net in the 56th minute of the second half. Her second goal was a chip, as she was falling down and beat Abby Dahlkemper. The goal went into the upper corner of Alyssa Naeher’s net.

The final strike of the match for France came from substitute Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who entered for Cascarino in the 69th minute. Her goal occurred nine minutes later, in the 78th minute, as she snuck past Dalhkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn.

Meanwhile, the United States was able to score a consolation goal. Mallory Pugh, who desperately needed an international goal after a shaky 2018 campaign, recorded a stoppage time goal with help from Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis. The tandem from the North Carolina Courage were substitutes in the match.

However, it was too little, two late. With the loss, the United States no longer retains a 28-match unbeaten streak.

Three Takeaways

  1. The United States should’ve been more energized: During the broadcast, Aly Wagner made the proclamation that the match shouldn’t be considered a real representation of the United States. However, that’s actually not the case. The United States looked tired — and that’s why Wagner made the comment. But, that’s just a poor excuse for a team that played downright bad. The United States should’ve been more energized due to the recent break from NWSL action and the early start to January camp. Not all competitions in January can be held in sunny California.
  2. Alyssa Naeher should not be the No. 1 GK — but she will: Alyssa Naeher had a bad day in goal for the United States. While the first goal was primarily given up by Fox — she truly got smoked by Cascarino — Naeher wasn’t moving her feet at all to make stops. The second goal, while it was a beauty from Diani, could’ve been stopped. The third goal was worthy of turning off the television, as Naeher made terrible timing in coming off her line. However, this isn’t the first bad performance from the goalkeeper. Adrianna Franch needs to be given a legit shot for the No. 1 goalkeeper position.
  3. France can truly win the World Cup: If the French National Team plays like they did against the United States, there’s no reason why the nation wouldn’t have back-to-back World Cup titles. The men did it last year in Russia, looking like a collective, well-communicated unit. The women had a complete performance and Diani could very well take the No. 1 striker position. She has the moves to win a Golden Boot.

What’s Next?

In 2015, the Spanish Women’s National Team went to its first-ever World Cup.

The team has made plenty of strides since then, which has resulted in a second qualification. The Spanish will host the United States on Tuesday in Alicante. Competition will be held at the Estadio José Rico Perez.

Tuesday’s match is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Recently, on Jan. 17, the Spanish drew 1-1 with Belgium, another team qualified for the World Cup. Alba Redonda scored in the 64th minute, but Belgium equalized in the 89th minute.

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