Shelley Kerr’s Scotland proved they can take on the best as they forced the World Champions to only a 1-0 win. Former City player Carli Lloyd missed a second half penalty as Alex Morgan’s goal in Paisley saw the US end 2018 unbeaten.
The 2018 CONCACAF winners started with pressure as NC Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper played a long ball wide for Orlando forward Alex Morgan. Morgan played a one two passing sequence with former Chelsea player Crystal Dunn before Morgan’s cross into the box was cleared.
Scotland were awarded a free kick early on after Claire Emslie was brought down, City teammate Caroline Weir stepping up to whip the ball around the wall, Emslie’s effort cleared on the line by Morgan. The resulting corner, also taken by Weir was sent into the box; former Blue Jane Ross heading over.
Morgan brought down Erin Cuthbert near the sideline but the Chelsea forward recovered making a brilliant tackle on the US star. Cuthbert played through Ross who was gaining on Ashlyn Harris, the Orlando keeper unable to clear with Jane battling for the ball which she eventually lost.
Weir sent a beautiful ball out wide to Fiona Brown, the FC Rosengård forward eventually losing out to Emily Fox; the US winning a throw in.
A misjudged goal kick by Lee Alexander was picked up by Carli Lloyd, the forward jumping to intercept with the resulting ball to Julie Ertz.
A free kick for Scotland saw Emslie make a great run down the left wing, her cross ending up at Lloyd. The US then broke with Alex Morgan, the forward unable to get a shot away before the ball fell to Washington Spirit’s Mallory Pugh; her shot heading wide.
Cuthbert committed a foul and the US had a free kick with Pugh’s club teammate Rose Lavelle stepping up, the set piece heading over everybody with a toe poke from Morgan going wide.
Lavelle stepped up for a corner, Jen Beattie getting a header away before teammate Weir cleared, Mal Pugh intercepting and taking off down the left before Birmingham’s Chloe Arthur made a tackle, putting the ball out for another set piece; the corner cleared. Pugh played it wide Alex Morgan, Caroline getting across to dispossess Carli Lloyd and make a lovely turn.
The US number eleven got involved again, laying the ball off to Crystal Dunn, her cross into the box and following shots blocked by Scotland captain Rachel Corsie.
Scotland were awarded a corner half an hour into the match with Erin stepping up, the Chelsea forward’s cross met by Jane Ross with her effort being cleared off the line again by Morgan. Ross then collected after the ball was sent back in, the flag raised for offside on the West Ham forward.
The home side had a scare when Alex Morgan’s low cross was nearly poked into their own net by Jen, whose late arrival possibly caught Lee Alexander by surprise. A minute or so later however, the visitors did go ahead when Mal Pugh’s cross into the box was met by an arriving Morgan, her right footed effort beating Alexander.
Three half time substitutions from Shelley Kerr saw a change of keeper and two swaps in defence, as Jen Beattie’s header and Claire Emslie’s cross were both saved; Lloyd pressurizing keeper Shannon Lynn. The forward was involved again when her back heel fell to Morgan, her shot forcing an excellent save from Vittsjo GK’s Lynn, Morgan coming up for a header a minute later but Rachel Corsie made sure her keeper collected.
A Fiona Brown cross was met by Jane and her effort was saved before the US broke, Carli being played through but Canberra United captain Corsie blocked her shot. The defender getting the ball away to Kirsty Smith with Emslie picking it up from the Man United player, Claire’s cross missed by Ross and Harris collected.
Jen Beattie made an excellent tackle to deny Mal Pugh after the Spirit player sped down the right wing with Smith getting back to cover, the defender deemed to have caught Pugh, awarding the US a penalty. Captain Lloyd stepped up to tale and despite Shannon Lynn diving the wrong way, the bar denied Lloyd and the US goal number 2.
Caroline Weir played through Erin Cuthbert, who made a great run with Emslie available on the left wing however Ertz pulled Cuthbert back giving the Scots a free kick. Weir took the set piece with Jane just missing the cross, the ball falling to substitute Christie Murray who poked her effort wide.
Cuthbert brought down the ball well from a US goal kick and attempted to hit one from range, but her effort went well wide of Ashlyn Harris’s goal.
The Chelsea forward got involved again four minutes later, Erin turning before holding off former teammate Crystal Dunn as she ran goal wards. Cuthbert made a great tackle and managed to lay off the ball to sub Lana Clelland, Emslie running down the left in support before the US cleared.
Liverpool’s Christie Murray played through Clelland and her shot was saved by Harris, Fiona Brown following up and forcing the keeper to punch away her effort.
Jen Beattie got her head to the ball as the attendance was announced, shouts of BEATTSS ringing around the stadium as Claire chased the long ball from Abby Dahlkemper.
A last shot at an equalizer came when the home side won a free kick, Weir aiming to get her effort under the wall however it didn’t quite make it and the US cleared before Lloyd made way for Sam Mewis. A short corner for the US was held off by the Scottish defense and the US ran out a 1-0 win ending their 2018 unbeaten.
Speaking to Kieran Theivam for She Kicks magazine after the game, manager Shelley Kerr said this on her players and the game: “I don’t think there’s any words that explain how proud I am of them, but I think throughout the World Cup campaign itself, they’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations. They’ve grown, they’ve matured and I think this week in training we set up tactically to make sure it would be difficult for the USA. And I think for everyone watching, you can see that was the case”.
“I’m really pleased, but I never like losing, neither do the players but when you’re playing the World Champions you have to be realistic. They’ve cause us some problems tonight and there were periods where we didn’t have the ball, but I thought they were great tactically”.
On the group of players: “There’s a real good balance in the squad of youth, of experience. I came in a year and a half ago and my predecessor Anna Signeul did an amazing job, made the team really, really robust defensively, but one thing that myself and Andy Thomson have said is, ‘if you want to get better, we need to critically reflect, and we need to think about how we can create more chance and be more of an attacking threat’ – because we’ve got the players to do it”.
With the Scottish league ending a few weeks ago, those FA WSL and FA Women’s Championship players such as Christie Murray, Chloe Arthur, Lizzie Arnot and Kirsty Smith will return to action at the weekend while Rachel Corsie will return to the Australian W-League and Canberra United.
Jen Beattie, Claire Emslie and Caroline Weir return to action for Man City Women on November 25th away at Yeovil; kick off 3pm.
Lee Alexander (Shannon Lynn 46’), Rachel Corsie ©, Jen Beattie, Jo Love (Christie Murray 66’), Hayley Lauder (Frankie Brown 46’), Caroline Weir, Jane Ross (Lana Cleveland 76’), Chloe Arthur (Kirsty Smith 46’), Claire Emslie, Fiona Brown (Lizzie Arnot 84’) and Erin Cuthbert
Subs (not used): Jenna Fife, Nicola Docherty, Zoe Ness, Leanne Crichton, Joelle Murray and Sam Kerr
Ashlyn Harris, Emily Sonnet (Jessica McDonald 68’), Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Julie Ertz, Carli Lloyd (Sam Mewis 90+3’), Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan (Allie Long 88’), Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn and Emily Fox (Danielle Colaprico 76’)
Subs (not used): Adrianna Franch, Andi Sullivan and Megan Rapinoe
Bookings: Sonnet 36’
Goals: Morgan 39’
Referee: Amy Fearne