Carli Lloyd, USWNT use their heads to defeat Belgium, 6-0

Carli Lloyd USWNT
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Midfielder Carli Lloyd of the United States Women's National Team celebrates her goal against Belgium at Banc of California Stadium on April 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. This was the seventh 'Countdown to the Cup' game ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, which kicks off on June 7th in France. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Los Angeles, California (April 8, 2019) — Carli Lloyd knows how to rise to a challenge. After receiving significantly less minutes for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Lloyd earned a start last night at the Banc of California Stadium.

Against Belgium, Lloyd scored two goals within six minute of each other. Both were scored by using her head. For the Lloyd, the goals signified using maximum effort to seize an opportunity that was provided for her. It’s no secret that Lloyd has battled adversity in her career.

Carli Lloyd, USWNT use their heads to defeat Belgium, 6-0

However, is adversity the right word to use here?

Lloyd isn’t hitting the bench because she’s a terrible player. She hasn’t performed at the highest level for her club team, as last year was a season to forget for Sky Blue FC. However, there are younger players coming up through the U.S. Women’s National Team ranks that can, and should, go for a full 90 minutes.

Those other younger players showed off their skills Sunday night, too.

Out of the six goals that the United States scored against Belgium, five were off headers. Alex Morgan was the lone player to score a goal with her feet. After scoring goal 100 against Australia on Thursday, Lloyd added to her international tally.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis and Jessica McDonald found the back of Belgian goalkeeper Nicky Evrard’s net. Belgium didn’t have much to work with on offense, as the United States controlled 57 percent of the possession. The Red Flames finished the match with four shots, but none registering on goal. Meanwhile, Evrard had to make two saves, as the United States registered eight shots on goal.

Plenty of lineup changes for Jill Ellis 

Rose Lavelle did not take part in this match, but she was expected to start. She left the match on crutches, but USWNT manager Jill Ellis said that she’ll be OK. Lavelle picked up an ankle injury during training on Saturday.

The starting lineup looked drastically different.

Crystal Dunn has been an experiment in the left back role for almost a year. Against Belgium, Ellis decided to move her in the midfield. It’s a position that she plays in during her competitions with the North Carolina Courage. Meanwhile, Julie Ertz made a throwback appearance as a centerback alongside Becky Sauerbrunn. The two held the back down during the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, Ali Krieger made her triumphant return to the USWNT starting lineup, featuring as the team’s right back. Tierna Davidson, normally a centerback, featured at left back for the USWNT.

Ellis said that she wanted to get a different look on formations.

“In terms of some of the rotations that we did, it was just taking a look at pairings and making sure we get as many looks as we can,” Ellis said. “Part of it is giving the other players opportunities, fresh legs. We want to look at different options and depth.”

Ellis also mentioned that the success Lloyd had against Belgium showed off the team’s depth.

“What we got is what we know of Carli,” Ellis said. “She’s a game changer, whether she’s on the pitch or coming onto the pitch. She was sharp, fantastic. She played her role perfectly. I think that’s why she’s special and that’s what I want to see from her. She delivered tonight. That just speaks on our depth and having multiple players come in that can be a difference for us.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Christen Press has an engine unlike any other: Not once did Christen Press look tired on the pitch. In her hometown stadium, Press looked sharp as she tallied three assists against Belgium. While she didn’t score herself, her runs did the talking for her. This is a player that has the ability to be a starter, but can easily make an impact whenever she enters the match.
  2. Will Lloyd be a starter? Maybe: The United States have a relatively easy group in the World Cup. The first two matches are against Thailand and Chile, two teams that the United States have scored multiple goals on in the past. However, every opponent should be respected and taken seriously. However, it wouldn’t be a shock if Ellis started Lloyd against those two sides, but kept her on the bench against Sweden. Even still, Lloyd could be a starter because it’s an honest wonder to if Rose Lavelle can stay healthy for a World Cup.
  3. Will Krieger get to 100? Ali Krieger is so close, but it always seems so far to get to 100 appearances for the national team. Ellis refused to play Krieger against Australia, but elected to start her tonight. She’s not sitting at 99 USWNT appearances. The next round of matches will feature the final World Cup roster. It’s a wonder to if Krieger will make it — or if she’ll get to 100.

What’s Next? 

As mentioned, the next three matches before the trip to France should feature the final Women’s World Cup roster for the United States. NWSL play begins this week, so player will return to their respective clubs and vie for a good opening start to the season.

May will be a vast and busy month for the USWNT.

On May 12, the United States will host South Africa back in California, but this time at Levi’s Stadium. Meanwhile, four days later, the team will travel to St. Louis to host the New Zealand Women’s National Team at Busch Stadium. Both teams are qualified for this summer’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, there’s one more test for the United States before boarding their flight to France. The USWNT will take on CONCACAF rival Mexico at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on May 26. Mexico did not qualify for the World Cup.

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