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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Alfano

SheBelieves Cup: USWNT vs. Czech Republic Recap

Going into this match the United States Women’s National Team looks significantly younger than what people are used to. Veteran players Christen Press, Tobin Heath, and Alex Morgan are gone from the roster, Head Coach Vlatko wanting to take this time to evaluate younger players. Crystal Dunn is also not on the roster due to pregnancy. Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, and Lindsey Horan, all solid names on the team are all out due to injury. As worried as some were, this is good for the team. Catarina Macario has had a breakout season with Lyon scoring 9 goals in 13 games. Sophia Smith, 2020 overall first round draft pick in the NWSL who scored 7 goals for the Portland Thorns last season and has shown how crafty she can be on the ball. Morgan Gautraut is another name who was out of the fold for a while but was called back into this camp. All of these players and names are ones to look out for including Trinity Rodman, Midge Purce, and Sofia Huerta.

On the Czech Republic side a few names to keep an eye on going into this tournament are their leaders and long time players. Lucie Martínková is the Czech Republic’s all-time cap leader (113) and is joined by goalkeeper Barbora Votíková (Paris Saint-Germain) and midfielder Kateřina Svitková (West Ham). Czech Republic is a team that doesn’t play nearly as often as the United States does, but they are full of solid tactical players. This is really a building and learning opportunity for them since they don’t have any qualifying tournaments to look out for.

Barbora Votíková, Czech Republic goalkeeper (Photo by Getty Images)

The game got off to a quick start with Czech getting quick touches in and intercepting a pass from Tierna Davidson of the US. They were able to send a cross into the box which was easily collected by Casey Murphy whose start earned her third cap. A first chance for the US side was seen with a ball from Alana Cook to Kelley O’Hara who made a cross that landed right at the hand of the Czech keeper, Barbora Votíková. In the third minute of the game a cross in from Mallory Pugh hit the corner and just missed a goal, Catarina Macario tried to rebound it into the goal but was unable to cover. In the 7th minute Rose Lavelle found a gap to play a through ball that just missed the foot of Sophia Smith in the box. Emily Fox also used her position at left back to push higher up on the field, creating space in the box and sending well time crosses.

When the Czech Republic was able to get the ball they held good positioning with it, finding small gaps to pass between, however, the United States applied pressure that the ball often turned over. For as little offensive opportunity that the Czech Republic was able to get in the opening minutes of the match, their defense held strong to oppose the United States who had five shots off in just the first fifteen minutes. The defense remained organized, slipping in to cut off almost every shot, pass, and transition the United States started in their half.

In the 22nd minute of the game, Catarina Macario, a breakout star for Lyon, took a free kick that just passed the top of the goal. She is currently the leading goal scorer for Lyon and is a hometown star for the USWNT who is currently playing in San Diego. Just a minute later the Czech Republic had a free kick that Murphy was able to easily collect in the air.

Catarina Macario (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

A shot from right inside the box came from Macario in the 28th minute that Votíková was able to knock away for a corner. The best chance of the first half came in the 36th minute when Macario had a through ball ahead of two defenders but a heavy touch allowed for it to be collected. Going into the half the score remained 0-0 with 10 shots for the US but no one able to convert anything.

The second half got off to just as fast of a start as the first did with Emily Sonnett and Kristie Mewis quickly working together to create an opportunity that was just missed by Macario. Just moments later Sonnett had a handball in the box that was not called but was very clear on all angles. Lavelle had a beautiful shot on goal in the 51st minute, a beautiful pass from Macario led to it, however, Votíková was there to keep it from going in goal. Czech was also able to get a shot off the near post in the 57th minute of the game which Murphy collected to keep the score even.

In the 60th minute of the match Trinity Rodman subbed on, marking her senior national team debut. Midge Purce also subbed on, bringing in fresh legs to hopefully generate a goal for the US side. The Czech Republic had a push in the early sixty minutes with a chance from Tereza Krejciriková off of a short corner deep in United States territory. In the 65th minute Rose Lavelle had two back to back chances both narrowly missing the back of the goal. Just a few minutes later, Trinity Rodman got fed a perfectly weighted pass from Kristie Mewis but Votíková was there to clear the line before Rodman could make anything of it.

In the 71st minute of the match veteran center back Becky Sauerbrunn subbed in, marking her 200th cap for the USWNT. Sauebrunn is only the 12th player to ever accomplish the feat of 200 caps for the team.

Kelley O'Hara pointing at Becky Sauerbrunn (Photo Credit: USWNT Twitter/ @USWNT)

Rose Lavelle, who created several chances during the match, subbed off in favor of Ashley Sanchez, a solid player for the Washington Spirit. A Czech set piece in the 82nd minute sent the ball right at Murphy who was there again to collect it, keeping the clean sheet intact for the US side. In the final few minutes of the match the Czechs pushed to find a goal, a shot from Klára Cahynová just barely being tipped over by Murphy.

The final opportunity of the game came from Kelley O’Hara in the 88th minute who took a shot right at the Czech keeper. The US lacked urgency at the end and struggled with the ability to complete their 18 chances throughout the match. However, even with a scoreless draw it was a solid showing for the Czech, a team who is growing having just held the Netherlands at a tie a few months back. It was also a good look at what this new era of the USWNT looks like with young faces and creative looks at situations. There is still a lot of work to do for the US side but there is endless room for potential with the new faces being brought in.

Sophia Smith running with ball at her feet, Czech Republic Michaela Khyrova running beside her(Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

A standout in this match was Sophia Smith who dribbled with ease, found small spots to pass through balls, and was able to slip out of tricky defensive situations. Each time Sophia Smith got control of the ball she was able to cut defenders and slide into goal scoring positions. The pairing between Catarina Macario and Rose Lavelle was smooth and fluid with easy transitions and passing between the two of them, something that head coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke about wanting to see more in the game setting.

Barbora Votíková was a brick in between the posts for the Czech Republic, with four saves, and commanding leadership in the back. She kept the Czech in the game on more than one occasion against the US side who was able to get multiple very close opportunities.

Final Score: 0-0 Draw


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