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
In the last year, U.S. WNT midfielder Samantha Mewis has seen her role shift and evolve. She first broke into the team on a more consistent basis in the latter part of 2015, but it wasn’t until late in 2016 that she began to feature more prominently in the starting lineup.
In 2017, she has started all nine games the USA has played this year and has been on the field for 773 minutes, second-most on the team behind Becky Sauerbrunn’s 810 minutes, while becoming an important part of the USA’s midfield dynamic.
Despite the confidence the coaching staff has placed in her, the six-foot Massachusetts native – the tallest field player ever to play for the USA -- knows it would be unwise to ever allow herself to get comfortable on the U.S. team as the competition to earn, keep, or regain a starting role never ceases.
“Every day is a new challenge here,” Mewis said of the WNT environment. “I’m still trying to just absorb as much as I can and grow as a player and as a person. It’s always an honor to play on this team but I don’t expect anything. Every day is a new day and every game is a new game, so each time we come in here we have to earn something and we have to fight for something, and that’s what makes this team so special.”
Besides her acumen in the center of the field, her savvy passing skills and ball-winning abilities in the air and on the ground, she can also score. Against Brazil on July 30, Mewis scored her first goal of 2017, and the fifth of her career, with a grass-cutter from just outside the penalty area to even the match at 1-1 in the 18th minute.Read more
The U.S. Women’s National Team came back from two goals down to defeat Brazil on July 30 at Qualcomm Stadium with a remarkable rally at the end of the match that saw four players score in the 4-3 victory: Samantha Mewis, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz. While both Mewis and Rapinoe were in the starting XI, Press and Ertz both came on as second half substitutes in the 57th minute.
Mewis’s goal was the game-tying score (the first of two in the game) in the 18th minute. Megan Rapinoe played a square pass into the middle came towards the on-rushing Mewis, who then hit a grass-cutter from 28 yards that took a slight deflection before sticking in the left corner of the net. The goal was the fifth of her career and first of 2017. She has been in the starting lineup for every game the USA has played this year and has contested the most minutes of anyone besides co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn.
Her second goal of 2017, Press’ score switched the momentum of the match. Scoring two minutes after Brazil had made it 3-1, Press’ spectacular finish from the left side of the penalty area into the upper left corner brought the WNT back into a game.
“To get goals against Brazil means a lot to me because it shows that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we can break defenses and get goals into the back of the net,” said Press.
Press, who has scored eight goals so far this NWSL season, has looked sharp for both club and country.
“Press had a great finish,” said Ellis after the Brazil match. “She got the match-winner overseas against Norway, [and then scored against Brazil] so those are big goals for her, and I think she’s been very consistent in the league.”
It’s been a long journey back for Megan Rapinoe following her ACL surgery in December of 2015, but her performances against Australia, and especially against Brazil, bode well for the USA going forward.
“I felt like we had momentum as soon as Press scored that goal,” said Rapinoe. “It was an incredible turn and ball by her to get it to my foot. I took it down and I didn’t have a great angle but I just thought, ‘I’ll smashed this thing.’”
The technical midfielder was involved in all four goals, getting two assists as well as the equalizer and also played a part in the sequence that led to the game-winner.
“She’s worked so hard to be back to this,” said Ellis of Rapinoe. “From her performance in the league, she’s been building momentum. Against Australia she was fantastic and against Brazil she just drives an engine.”
Rapinoe has also been lighting it up in the NWSL, scoring a league-leading 12 goals so far for Seattle.
Ertz is the highest-scoring defender on the USA’s roster and she put the cherry on top of an unforgettable night for the WNT in San Diego with her game-winner in the 89th minute, blasting a loose ball into the net from six-yards out to send the Qualcomm crowd into a frenzy. It was her ninth career goal, but the first with a married name on the back of her jersey.