The United States Women’s National Team started and ended their year in Southern California, but Sunday’s match took place in the Stubhub Center located in Carson, California. The USWNT would continue to go undefeated in front of 20,336 fans to close out the year. Though the scoreline wasn’t as high as last game, the USWNT still were able to find the back of the net and even collected a shutout this time around.
A calmer first half
The USWNT came out aggressively in the first half, creating chances right from the whistle. Only four minutes into the match, midfielder Morgan Brian was fouled just a few yards outside of the box, giving the U.S. a free kick in a dangerous range, but they were unable to convert. Forward Crystal Dunn was involved in almost every attack in the first few minutes, either sending in good balls or getting shots off. In the 13th minute, Lynn Williams was fouled just outside of the box, and the U.S. played a quick corner to Tobin Heath, and though she tried to replicate her goal from Thursday night, her shot went just wide. Romania did manage to get into their attacking half a handful of times, but the U.S. backline was able to thwart any chances they could’ve had. All their chances paid off in the 20th minute, when Dunn once again made it down the wide side of the field and played a ball in, and it bounced off of Romanian defender Teodora Meluta’s chest to score an own goal.
The U.S. kept pressing for another goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net again. Williams found herself 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, but her shot was just past the far post. From there, Romania would be able to counter, getting far enough into their half to draw a foul just outside of their box, but their free kick was easily cleared. The U.S. would find the back of the net in the 34th minute, but not before Dunn was called offside. They would possess majority of possession and chances up until the last minute, where Christen Press would pick her head up and played a through ball to Dunn, who would take a few touches before striking the ball low and past Oprea’s outstretched hands right before the halftime whistle blew.
Hometown girl scores, Romania bunkers down
The U.S. opened the second half by making three substitutions: Kealia Ohai, Casey Short and Lynn Williams making way for Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger and Julie Johnston. Once again, the USWNT created chances from the start, with youngster Andi Sullivan trying her luck from the top of the box in the 49th minute. Six minutes later, Los Angeles native Christen Press would find the back of the net to get the USWNT up 3-0 after finishing a low cross from Heath. As a welcome to the match, Morgan would be fouled a few times in her first couple of minutes of the field, going down after a late tackle in the 58th but still being able to continue playing after a few minutes to recover.
Not too long after, a Romania defender would also suffer from a foul and would take a few minutes before being good to go again.
The majority of the half consisted of USWNT owning possession once again, but they were still unable to put another away until the 88th minute. After attempting to clear the ball, a handball was called against Romania in the box. Midfielder Morgan Brian stood at the spot and struck the ball low and quick to give the U.S. the 4-0 lead; this would be Brian’s second goal in two games. One goal wasn’t enough in the dying minutes; only two minutes later, Heath would play a short corner to Kelley O’Hara who served the ball in for Sam Mewis to head past goalkeeper Oprea. There would be two more chances for the U.S., but they weren't able to find the back of the net before thewhistle blew.
The USWNT officially finishes the year undefeated. The next two years do not contain any major international tournaments, and with the many new faces coach Jill Ellis has brought in the last two camps, it will continue to be the time to try new things and test out the waters for the United States Women’s National Team.