On Feb. 9, 2013, the U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off the new year with a 4-1 victory against Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida. Christen Press, then 24-years-old, was responsible for two goals that day, scoring in the 13th minute and adding another in the 32nd to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The early goal was Press’ first for the USA, coming in a match that was also her first cap.
Becky Sauerbrunn hugs Christen Press in the aftermath of Press scoring on her WNT debut.
Earning that first cap is special for any player, but a debut and a goal in the same game? That’s a rare feat. In the 30+ year history of the U.S. WNT 21 players have scored in their first caps.
NOTHING TO LOSE
Press’ path to that first game three years ago was an interesting one. In early 2012, she made the decision to move to Sweden after U.S.-based Women’s Professional Soccer folded. Press thought leaving the country might negatively impact her hopeful National Team career, but little did she know, it was only just beginning.
“I think just because I always thought that the National Teams would be watching the American league, I thought that going abroad was kind of like saying goodbye to my dream of playing for the National Team,” recalled Press. “I left around this time, in February, and I thought I would not get a call, I sort of thought that I would fall out of U.S. Soccer’s radar.”
As it turns out, head coach Pia Sundhage kept tabs on players in Europe, especially in her native land of Sweden. Press got off to a hot start with her new club, and it wasn’t long before she was on her way back home.
Press returned to the U.S. and joined the WNT in Florida in April during the final stretch of what had been an intense fitness camp. She kept to herself and tried to quickly learn as much as possible despite only being there for five days.
“I had nothing to lose,” she said. “It was my first camp, it was warm and I was so happy. I don’t think I spoke to anybody. I was not nervous, I was just happy to be in Florida and my dream was coming true. I’m always quiet when I don’t know my surroundings, so I just kept to myself trying to learn the rules, how to behave; it was all so quick.”
That short stint turned out to be the only one for Press before she was named an Olympic alternate in 2012. The following February, Tom Sermanni took over as WNT head coach, and it was then Press learned she would start against Scotland. Her chance had arrived.
“I went on the field, the crowd was so much bigger than I’d ever played in front of, and for me it was so much bigger than life,” said Press. “But I kept telling myself, ‘I’m not nervous, I’m confident, I’m a good player and I believe in myself.’”
Years and multiple goals later, plus one Women’s World Cup title to her name, the dream is alive and well for Press.
Press celebrates scoring her first World Cup goal against Australia in the USA's opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup
FRISCO, Texas (Feb. 10, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team opened Group A play at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship with a 5-0 shutout against Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium.
Alex Morgan opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the match with the fastest goal in CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship history. Carli Lloyd assisted both of Morgan’s goals, with the second coming in the 62nd minute, and scored one of her own in the ninth minute. Lloyd and Morgan have assisted each other five times in the WNT’s past two matches and are responsible for five of the 10 goals scored by the USA in 2016.
Crystal Dunn scored in 15th minute of her Olympic Qualifying debut to give the USA a 3-0 lead heading into the half. Christen Press entered the match in the 74th minute and scored just nine minutes later, also in her first Olympic qualifier.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo recorded her 92nd shutout, further extending her U.S. WNT record for most shutouts.
Earlier in the day, Mexico topped Puerto Rico 6-0 in Group A action and sits atop the group with both teams having three points after the opening day of competition, but Mexico with a slight edge on goal difference. The WNT improved to 13-0-0 all-time against Costa Rica and 4-0-0 all-time at Toyota Stadium.
The U.S. WNT next faces Mexico at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 13, in its second Group A match as it continues the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in search of a berth to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. The match can be viewed live on NBC Live Extra and on replay on NBCSN at 8:30 p.m. CT.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd), 1st minute: Directly off the kickoff, Lindsey Horan sent a long ball from USA territory to Carli Lloyd who was about 30 yards from the goal. Lloyd flicked the ball with her head over the top of the Costa Rican defense to Alex Morgan, who fended off a defender and then struck a hard right-footed shot into the net from 10 yards out. The goal after just 12 seconds is believed to also be the fastest in the 31-year history of the U.S. Women’s National Team and it was the fastest goal ever scored in CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying. USA 1, CRC 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA – Carli Lloyd (Penalty Kick), 9th minute: Crystal Dunn drew a foul just inside penalty area to earn a USA penalty kick. Lloyd converted with a low, driven shot to left corner as the Costa Rica goalkeeper dove the wrong way. USA 2, CRC 0. (SEE GOAL)
USA – Crystal Dunn, 15th minute: Becky Sauerbrunn sent a long throw-in into the penalty area from deep down the left sideline. Horan headed the ball toward the goal and Morgan slid to power a near post shot that was parried, but not held by Diannia Diaz. Dunn sprinted to the loose rebound and cracked a shot that was spectacularly saved by the sprawling Diaz, but she could do nothing about the rebound that Dunn powered into the net off the foot of a Costa Rica defender who was sliding at the goal line. It was Dunn’s first goal of Olympic Qualifying and fifth of her international career. USA 3, CRC 0. (SEE GOAL)
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd), 62nd minute: Lloyd worked her way free into the right side of the penalty area with a nifty dribble and chipped a perfect cross over a defender to Morgan who met it with her head just steps away from the goal to flick it home for the duo’s fifth combined goal and assist over the past two matches. USA 4, CRC 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA – Christen Press (Tobin Heath), 83rd minute: Tobin Heath found Christen Press with a cross into the penalty area from the left side. With her back to the goal, and just outside the six-yard box, Press settled the ball with the outside of her right foot away from a defender, spun around and finished into the roof of the net on the left side for her first goal in Olympic Qualifying. USA 5, CRC 0 (SEE GOAL) FINAL
Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT continues Group A play in the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 13, against Mexico at Toyota Stadium. The U.S. is attempting to qualify for a sixth consecutive Olympic Games and win the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship for the fourth consecutive time. The match can be viewed live on NBC Live Extra and on replay on NBCSN at 8:30 p.m. CT.
- Lloyd leads the team with 10 all-time Olympic Qualifying appearances, followed by Hope Solo with nine.
- Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Jaelene Hinkle, Lindsey Horan, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Christen Press, and Mallory Pugh each made their Olympic qualifying debut. Dunn and Press also scored.
- The match in Frisco marks the WNT’s fourth at this stadium (formerly Pizza Hut Park and FC Dallas Stadium). The USA owns a 4-0-0 record, including a two wins against Canada and a victory against New Zealand prior to tonight’s match.
- Mallory Pugh earned her second cap with the WNT, coming in for Crystal Dunn in the second half. She is the youngest player in WNT history to play in an Olympic Qualifying match at 17 years, 9 months and 12 days old. Pugh, the captain of the U-20 WNT team that will compete at the U-20 WWC in Papua New Guinea at the end of the year, scored in her senior team debut on Jan. 23 vs. Ireland at 17 years, 8 months and 25 days old, becoming the youngest player to debut for the U.S. in the last 11 years.
- Carli Lloyd has now scored 83 international goals. She is in sixth place on the WNT’s all-time scoring list. Lloyd has scored 20 goals in the USA’s last 15 matches starting with the Round of 16 game vs. Colombia at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
- Alex Morgan has tallied 59 international goals, just one short of tying Shannon MacMillan for eighth on the USA’s all-time scoring list.
- Lloyd notched her ninth goal in 10 career Olympic Qualifying matches and Alex Morgan scored her fifth and sixth in only her fifth Olympic Qualifying cap.
- With 187 caps, Solo is the leader for caps by a goalkeeper in U.S. history.
- Solo is the all-time leader in wins for a goalkeeper in U.S. history with 141.
- Becky Sauerbrunn earned her 97th cap and could reach the century mark during the tournament, becoming the 35th U.S. woman to play 100 times for the WNT.
- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: Feb. 10, 2016
Competition: 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying – Group A
Venue: Toyota Stadium; Frisco, Texas
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT
Weather: 65 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 3 2 5
CRC 0 0 0
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd) 1st minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty) 9
USA – Crystal Dunn 15
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd) 62
USA – Christen Press (Tobin Heath) 83
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger (19-Jaelene Hinkle, 68), 8-Julie Johnston (12-Christen Press, 74), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 14-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan, 16-Crystal Dunn (2-Mallory Pugh, 68), 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 17-Tobin Heath; 13-Alex Morgan
Subs Not Used: 3-Samantha Mewis, 5-Kelley O'Hara, 6-Emily Sonnett, 15-Stephanie McCaffrey, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 20-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis
CRC: 1-Dinnia Diaz, 5-Diana Saénz, 6-Carol Sanchez, 7-Melissa Herrera (17-Karla Villalobos, 69), 8-Daniela Cruz, 9-Carolina Venegas, 10-Shirley Cruz (capt.) (3-Gloriana Villalobos, 80), 11-Raquel Rodríguez, 14-María Barrantes, 16-Katherine Alvarado (15-Cristin Granados, 46), 20-Wendy Acosta
Subs Not Used: 2-Gabriela Guillén, 4-María Benavides, 12-Lixy Rodríguez, 13-Yalitza Sánchez, 19-Fabiola Sánchez
Head coach: Amelia Valverde
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 23 / 2
Shots on Goal: 12 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 9 / 1
Fouls: 9 / 7
Offside: 2 / 0
CRC – Dinnia Diaz (caution) 15th minute
CRC – Katherine Alvarado (caution) 29
USA – Julie Johnston (caution) 31
Referee: Cardella Samuels (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Stacy-Ann Greyson (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Princess Brown (JAM)
4th Official: Crystal Sobers (TRI)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex MorganRead more
2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship
USA vs. Costa Rica (Group A)
Feb. 10, 2016
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Live Streaming: NBC Live Extra (http://liveextra.nbcsports.com - no authentication required)
Tonight’s WNT Starting XI vs. Costa Rica: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 8-Julie Johnston, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 14-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan, 16-Crystal Dunn, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 17-Tobin Heath; 13-Alex Morgan
Subs: 2-Mallory Pugh, 3-Samantha Mewis, 5-Kelley O'Hara, 6-Emily Sonnett, 12-Christen Press, 15-Stephanie McCaffrey, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Jaelene Hinkle, 20-Alyssa Naeher
- Carli Lloyd will play in her 10th Olympic Qualifying game. She has the most Olympic qualifying appearances of anyone on the roster. She’s also recorded eight career goals in the tournament.
- Goalkeeper Hope Solo will play in her ninth Olympic Qualifying match.
- Both Solo and Lloyd, alongside midfielder Tobin Heath, are the only three players on the roster to have participated in both the 2008 and 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championships.
- Seven players on the roster have previous Olympic Qualifying experience and three players have scored in an Olympic Qualifying tournament: Lloyd (8), Alex Morgan (4) and Heath (3).
- Lloyd has scored 19 goals in the USA’s last 14 matches, starting with the Round of 16 game at the Women’s World Cup.
- Defender Becky Sauerbrunn makes her 97th appearance for the WNT and could hit 100 during the qualifying tournament. There are four other players on the roster that have played 100 times or more for the USA. They are all starting tonight: Lloyd, Solo, Heath and Morgan.
- Lloyd will earn her earn her 213th cap tonight while Solo gets her 187th, extending her U.S. record for a GK.
- Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston, Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn will play in their first Olympic qualifier.
- Horan will make her eighth WNT appearance and second start of the year. She’s the only player in the starting lineup with less than 10 caps for the USA. This is her fifth career start.
- Three of tonight’s starters (Heath, Horan and Klingenberg) are members of the Portland Thorns of the NWSL.
- The USA has never lost a match in Olympic Qualifying, but it did tie Canada 1-1 in the title game of the 2008 tournament before prevailing in penalty kicks.
- The backline of Solo, Ali Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn and Klingenberg is the same backline that started all seven matches at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and shutout opponents for 539 consecutive minutes, allowing only three goals through the tournament.
- Lloyd and Sauerbrunn were named as the new captains of the U.S. Women's National Team in January by U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. The duo becomes the 13th & 14th players officially named captain of the U.S. WNT over the 31 years of the program. When Lloyd and Sauerbrunn are on the field at the same time, Lloyd will wear the armband.
- Fans may notice several players wearing different numbers from the Women’s World Cup. For this year, when selected, Julie Johnston will wear 8, Meghan Klingenberg will wear 7 and Christen Press will wear 12. GK Alyssa Naeher will wear 20 during this tournament as rosters must be numbered 1-20.