The U.S. women’s national team got what it wanted out of its friendlies against Sweden and France.
The team was tested in its first match, recording a 1-1 draw against Scandinavian opponents, before recording a 2-0 win over France four days later.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski will be mostly satisfied too, as he saw his team respond well to a subpar display against Sweden, had a chance to test out new tactical looks and likely narrowed down his roster even further ahead of the Olympics this summer.
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With just three games in June left before Andonovski picks his 18 players for Tokyo, here are the winners and losers from April’s two friendlies:
Winner: Alex Morgan
For the first time in nearly two years, it appears that the real Alex Morgan is back.
The 31-year-old has understandably been brought along slowly since giving birth to her first child last May, and has suffered setbacks in the form of a knee injury and a positive Covid-19 diagnosis.
But after a 25-minute cameo against Sweden, Morgan started against France and put her stamp on the game early, winning a penalty and then scoring a quality goal within the first 20 minutes.
Andonovski noticed something a bit different about Morgan this camp, too.
“In the last couple of practices it was almost like she bumped it up a notch, or was just a little more focused, a little more concentrated and as a staff we were talking about how she got her killer instinct back,” Andonovski said after the France match.
It has been a long road back, and Morgan has been brought along slowly, starting just two of her five USWNT appearances this year. But if the team had a must-win game tomorrow, there is no doubt she would be starting.
Based on what we saw this month, she is ready.
Loser: Catarina Macario
Macario is firmly on the roster bubble for the Olympics, and a strong showing this month could have been a huge boost to her case.
Unfortunately, the 21-year-old had to be removed from the roster due to a Covid-19 outbreak at her club side, Lyon.
Though her omission was out of her control, Macario, more than most bubble players, needs to get more reps with the USWNT.
Her talent is unquestionable, but Macario only made her USWNT debut in January and has just three caps to her name.
“We would have loved to have her here and see her a bit more, especially with the limited opportunities that we have before the Olympics,” Andonovski said.
“Hopefully we’ll see her do well [at Lyon] and get selected for the next camp."
The USWNT camp in June will be Macario’s last opportunity outside of her club setting to make her case to be on the Olympic roster. Unfortunately for the youngster, she just missed out on her penultimate opportunity.
Winner: Rose Lavelle
Andonovski made no secret of his belief that Rose Lavelle deserves to be playing more than she currently is at Manchester City.
“Do I want to see Rose a little bit more on the field with City? Yes. Do I believe that she deserves to be more on the field? Absolutely, she’s one of the best players in the world,” Andonovski said prior to the two games.
Regardless of what is happening with her club team though, Lavelle is still a foundational piece for the USWNT.
These friendlies showed that even though her City stint is not going quite as planned, Lavelle is gaining some valuable versatility in England that she can bring to the USWNT.
The 25-year-old has been played as a winger at City, in contrast to her preferred role as a playmaking No.10.
And this week against France, Lavelle was deployed out wide in the second half, allowing Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz to occupy the midfield.
“She was a wide forward with a very free role to overload the midfield and create four-v-three in the middle part of the field. I think she did well,” Andonovski said of Lavelle.
Lavelle will still get plenty of minutes as a No.10, but on an Olympic roster that allows for just 18 players, any additional versatility she can bring will only enhance her value.
Loser: Lynn Williams
Williams has brought plenty of value to the USWNT in her pressing and chance creation, but the hope has been that she would start to translate her speed and attacking instincts into more goals and assists.
Against Sweden, though, Williams struggled to make much of an impact before being pulled after 57 minutes. Against France, she did not even make the matchday squad.
Though Andonovski is clearly a fan of Williams, the USWNT has a myriad of options in attack, and any slip-up can be damaging this close to the Olympics.
Unfortunately for the NC Courage star, April’s friendlies will not have boosted her chances of going to Tokyo.
Winner: Sophia Smith
Whereas Williams may have seen her Olympic chances damaged slightly, Smith continues to inch her way toward an unlikely spot in Tokyo.
To return to a theme, Smith’s versatility could serve her well when Andonovski chooses his 18, as she can play as a center forward or in a wide attacking role, like she did against France.
The youngster is still likely on the outside looking in for a roster spot, but looked lively in a cameo against France and won praise from one of the team’s biggest stars.
“Soph has come and has done really well,” Morgan said of the 20-year-old. “She’s been super open to learning from some of the older players. She’s brought a really positive energy.
“She likes to take players on one-v-one and you like to see the confidence from a young player. I was really happy for her to get minutes tonight and I think she has a really bright future with the national team.”
Loser: Midge Purce
Purce had played in four of the USWNT's five matches in 2021 before this month as she continues to battle for an Olympic roster spot.
The Gotham FC star was named to the roster for the friendlies against Sweden and France but she failed to make the matchday squad for either game.
It is unclear if injury was a factor, but it was a surprise to see the 25-year-old not even named as a substitute in either match.
Purce, who can play in attack or at outside back, was right in the mix for an Olympic spot prior to April, but her status moving forward is unclear.
At the very least, she will likely need to impress in the NWSL over the next six weeks.