1. Julie Ertz vs. Korea Republic (International Friendly; Oct. 19): Something everyone can agree on is that Julie Ertz was dangerous in the penalty area this year. All six of her goals came from set pieces, but her goal against Korea Republic on Oct. 19 had a little extra mustard on it as Ertz nutmegged the goalkeeper with a diving header. The goal came off a well-struck corner kick by Megan Rapinoe from the left side that flew towards the near post. The diving Ertz sent a low, skidding header through the legs of the goalkeeper. The celebration afterwards was equally as fun.
2. Megan Rapinoe vs. Brazil (Tournament of Nations; July 30): She had just assisted Christen Press on the goal that ignited the comeback, making the score 3-2 in favor of Brazil, but then Rapinoe took the reins, scoring one of the best goals of her career to tie the game, 3-3. She settled a well-placed lofted pass from Press with a perfect touch inside the penalty area and then, with Brazil goalkeeper Barbara cheating ever so slightly for the cross, blasted her shot from a stiff angle so hard towards the near post that Barbara couldn’t react in time. Her reaction and the reaction of her teammates (as well as the pumped-up crowd inside Qualcomm Stadium) showed just how big a goal it was.
3. Alex Morgan vs. New Zealand (International Friendly; Sept. 15): This was another beauty from Alex Morgan. Sofia Huerta, playing in her first cap, sent a long cross from the right wing into the left side of the box, where Morgan brought it down with her left foot, evaded a closing defender and then ripped her shot into the roof of the net for her second goal of the year. It was vintage Morgan.
4. Megan Rapinoe vs. Japan (Tournament of Nations; Aug. 3): Breaking ankles inside of the six-yard box is how Megan Rapinoe added her name to the scoring sheet. The goal came when Christen Press found space between two defenders to slip a beautiful pass to Rapinoe, who was cutting into the right side of the penalty box. Rapinoe latched onto the pass, faked a shot to force the Japanese defender into a slide and then hesitated long enough for the defender to move out of the way as she got to her feet. Rapinoe then had enough space to slot her shot into the lower left corner from close range. The goal was worthy of a classic Rapinoe celebration, and that’s exactly what she gave to the fans.
5. Christen Press vs. Korea Republic (International Friendly; Oct. 22): This much we know: Press can be lethal shooting from outside the 18-yard box. On a nice U.S. build-up through the midfield, Alex Morgan found Press with a threaded pass near the top of the penalty area. She squared up on a defender, made space for a shot with a quick move to her right and whipped the ball brilliantly into the upper right corner for her third goal of 2017.
6. Julie Ertz vs. Brazil (Tournament of Nations, July 30): After two goals in five minutes brought the USA back to life against Brazil, the game was now tied 3-3 at the 85-minute mark. Ertz completed the incredible comeback with her game-winning goal in the 89th. Rapinoe was once again involved in the goal, playing Kelley O’Hara down the right side on the overlap. O’Hara’s cross bounced off the sliding Carli Lloyd and back to Ertz, who blasted the loose ball into the back of the net from six yards out for the victory. It was Ertz’ first goal of 2017…. but it wouldn’t be her last.
7. Christen Press vs. Brazil (Tournament of Nations, July 30): After Brazil made it 3-1 in the 78th minute on well-placed free-kick goal, ESPN commentator Ian Darke was understandably gloomy about the USA’s prospects. “The U.S., surely sunk here….”, said Darke, but then something amazing happened. The USA scored three goals in nine minutes, starting with this Christen Press rocket. Megan Rapinoe slipped a perfectly weighted pass into the left side of the penalty box for Press, who collected, spun toward goal and smacked a right-footed shot into the upper left corner from 14 yards away to make it 3-2.
8. Alex Morgan vs. Canada (International Friendly; Nov. 9): Of her team-leading seven goals this year, one of Morgan’s best came against a familiar opponent: Canada. The play began when Casey Short did well to take advantage of some poor clearances by Canada and headed the ball back into the mixer. Morgan kept a U.S. attack alive by bravely heading the bouncing ball past a defender and then drilling a half-volley with her right foot between three Canada defenders. The shot bounced hard past the outstretched arm of Stephanie Labbé and into the lower right corner for a timely and stylish finish.
9. Allie Long vs. Russia (International Friendly; April 6): In classic Allie Long fashion, she scored on a header in the 70th minute (her second of the night) after Mallory Pugh crossed into the middle of the six-yard box. Long beat a pair of players with a powerful falling header for her fifth career goal (all of which had come on headers, although she did go on to score her sixth with her foot on Oct. 22) and her second multi-goal game for the USA, which coincidentally enough came exactly a year after her first (April 6, 2016, against Colombia in East Hartford, Connecticut).
10. Mallory Pugh vs. Japan (Tournament of Nations; Aug. 3): Pugh hadn’t scored for the WNT so far in 2017, and after suffering an injury during warmups on June 11 in Norway, she made her return to game action in the Tournament of Nations. Against Japan in the 60th minute, Pugh received a perfect ball from Taylor Smith and swiftly ran into the box, charging at the ‘keeper all alone before calmly finishing with a low shot. The classy finish by the 19-year-old showcased her decision-making as well as her growth over the last year.Read more
On March 4, 2017, midfielder Rose Lavelle made her debut for the U.S. Women’s National Team, going the full 90 minutes against England. Lavelle put in a terrific performance in front of a sold-out Red Bull Arena. The 26,500 fans were easily the largest crowd for which she had ever put her skills on display.
Her play has earned her a few more starts from U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis, where the wonderfully-skilled Lavelle buzzed around the field and produced several GIF-able moments. She scored her first international goal on April 9 against Russia, and added a second (the game-winner) against Sweden on June 8 in Gothenburg.
Lavelle also has a unique and endearing personality off the field, making her one of the most exciting young players to watch in the coming months. Here are five things to know about Rose Lavelle:
No. 1 NWSL College Draft Pick
After a standout four-year career at Wisconsin, Lavelle was selected as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 NWSL College Draft by the Boston Breakers. Lavelle’s selection marked the fourth consecutive year a U.S. WNT player was chosen with the top pick, following in the footsteps of Crystal Dunn (2014), Morgan Brian (2015) and Emily Sonnett (2016).
While the title of Nutmeg Queen belongs to veteran midfielder Tobin Heath, Lavelle has shown in just a handful of games that she belongs in such an exclusive group. We first saw snippets of her nutmeg skills against England, but it was against Russia however, when Lavelle’s video game-level skills were on full display.
First, she had a spectacular dribble down the end line on the right side early in the game where she pushed a ball past a player, ran around her, then nutmegged a second defender inside the penalty box. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it past the third and the final piece didn’t materialize. Minutes later, she had another nutmeg, this time with a back-heel pass. The best part? She seems right at home on the field in what was just her third international appearance.
Making the Jump
Lavelle has had quite a bit of experience at the U-20 international level. In 2014, she was a starter on the USA's U-20 Women's World Cup Team in Canada, scoring a goal in group play against China PR to help the USA to the quarterfinal. The U.S. team went out in PKs to North Korea, but she was one of the USA's most effective players in the tournament. Lavelle also accomplished a remarkable feat at the 2014 CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championship in the Cayman Islands. She did not score a goal or get an assist over the four matches she played in during the tournament as the USA defeated Mexico, 4-0, in the championship game, but her impact on each game on both sides of the ball was so great that she won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
Social Media Savvy
While many young players often need training, advice and experience to learn the ins and outs of social media, Lavelle has had an exquisite social media presence for quite a while, particularly on Twitter. Her favorite topics are Wisconsin Badgers sports, the Xavier Men’s Basketball Team, dancing, shenanigans at camp, college homework, and of course, dogs.
5 long awaited years have led to this moment of freedom where Im finally able to bet on my March Madness bracket w/o punishment from NCAA— Rose Lavelle (@roselavelle) March 15, 2017
Rose With Dogs
If you know Rose, you know that she loves dogs, especially bulldogs. In fact, her bulldog Wilma is such a social media presence that fans have created an account for her.
4 words. 9 letters. Say it and I'm yours— Rose Lavelle (@roselavelle) March 6, 2017
"I have a dog"
EVERYBODY MEET WILMA, THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE LAVELLE FAMILY!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/BS705T1p— Rose Lavelle (@roselavelle) October 26, 2012
Bought Wilma rain boots but she's ungrateful and hates them pic.twitter.com/YLEQNCpYnW— Rose Lavelle (@roselavelle) January 26, 2017
Lavelle is known to often FaceTime with Wilma just to talk to her. She also will request to pet and immediately bond with any dog she might cross paths with. To document this, the hashtag #RoseWithDogs has officially launched on the @ussoccer_wnt Twitter account. If there any dogs you’d like Rose to meet, please tweet us and include the hashtag #RoseWithDogs.
Since September 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team has played 10 different opponents -- nine teams from Europe plus Thailand.
The USA’s list of European opponents since last fall includes the Netherlands, two sets of matches each against Switzerland and Romania, tough tests against England, France and Germany at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup and another double-dip against Russia in April. Most recently of course, there were the two big wins against Sweden in Gothenburg on June 8, and against Norway in Sandefjord on June 11.
So, besides belonging to the same Confederation, what do eight of these nine European countries have in common? They make up half of the field for the 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO tournament taking place this July in the Netherlands. Romania nearly made it into the last 16 as well but fell to Portugal in the playoff for the final spot.
WNT vs. Netherlands, this year's EURO hosts.
The UEFA Women’s EURO is the most prestigious competition for women’s international soccer in Europe and, after the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games, the biggest and most competitive women’s international tournament in the world.
And facing the best is precisely what U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis committed to do coming out of the recent Olympic cycle.
“I said it last year, we want our schedule to be aggressive,” Ellis told ussoccer.com. “We’re always trying to play top-10 teams and elite teams. It’s a priority and our Federation knows it’s a priority for our team because it’s in those games where we will see growth. The games against European teams are critical.”
With the next Women’s World Cup in France, surely the European nations – especially France and Germany – will be favorites to lift the trophy in Lyon. By then, the USA clearly will have cut its teeth on European competition.
Including the games against Sweden and Norway, the U.S. has now played exactly half of the EURO field in less than a year, a rarity for most countries both in terms of the high level of opposition and the short amount of time in which the games have taken place.Read more
Here we break down the most recent U.S. WNT camp by the numbers:
2000: U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis called a pair of very young players into the U.S. camp in Texas. The youngest of the two was Sophia Smith. Her birthday of Aug. 8, 2000 made her the first player to be called into a senior WNT event who was born in the new millennium.
98: Caps earned by Ali Krieger. She earned No. 98 after entering the game against on Russia on April 6, playing the final 45 minutes of the match. Krieger would become the 36th woman in WNT history to reach 100 caps.
97: Number of international goals scored by Carli Lloyd. After netting the first U.S. goal in the 5-1 win against Russia on April 9 via the penalty spot, Lloyd is now only three goals away from becoming the sixth player in WNT history to score 100 or more goals for the USA.