June 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Emma Hayes wins in first USWNT practice; Swanson and Davidson score two goals

Emma Hayes wins in first USWNT practice;  Swanson and Davidson score two goals

Emma Hayes began her tenure as U.S. women’s national team coach with a win, as forward Mallory Swanson and defender Tierna Davison scored two goals apiece as the United States cruised to a 4-0 win over South Korea in front of 19,010 on Saturday at Commerce. City, Colorado.

“I think we controlled what we did in the first half. We stuck to the structures. We stuck to the coaching,” Hayes said on TNT’s postgame show. “Everybody did what I asked of them.”

Swanson’s goals were her first for the USWNT since a ruptured patellar tendon in April 2023 ruled her out of the World Cup. Meanwhile, Davidson scored her second and third goals of her international career.

The new start on the bench came with changes in the lineup. Hayes makes the youngest USWNT starting eleven since April 2022 with an average age of 25.5 years and 45 appearances per player.


Swanson goes back to the score sheet

In the lead-up to Saturday’s friendly, Hayes was keen to reveal a meeting she had with Swanson at the 2017 United Football Coaches Conference in Los Angeles. As the manager says, she has been trying to recruit the 18-year-old to Chelsea’s squad in recent months before she makes her NRL debut.

After seven years, she finally had the chance to call on Swanson – and it didn’t take long for the long-awaited match between player and coach to score.

The goal was Swanson’s first with the USWNT since suffering a ruptured patellar tendon in a 2023 friendly against the Republic of Ireland. It also capped off a really encouraging run of possession and ball movement, which also required Sophia Smith to make use of her pioneering stopping skill set at the top of the box before threading an assist into Swanson’s stride.

Swanson hasn’t had the best start until 2024, and appears to still be in the final stretch of recovery from the knee injury. She did not take a penalty kick in the SheBelieves Cup Final, and her first penalty kick of the NWSL season was saved because she lacked her usual shooting power. With a few months of consistent playing time, she looked more like her usual dynamic self on Saturday, operating out of the South Korean back line and showing good off-the-ball movement and interaction with Smith and Trinity Rodman throughout the first half.

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The second half was more of the same, with Swanson also producing some dangerous set pieces including an assist on one of Davidson’s goals. In the 77th minute, she applied the pressure that started the South Korean turnover, then ran into the open space in the right channel to receive a brilliant through ball from Rose Lavelle before curling a shot at the far post – her second of the day, her 34th international goal in 91 international appearances.

Swanson had 30 friends and family in attendance, far exceeding the tickets regularly allotted to each player.

“I just finished buying a suite,” she said. “Because it was easier, because I knew (my fellow Colorado natives) would jump on it. So I texted (our press officer). I was like, ‘I need help. Please help me.’

Few will need a reminder of how dangerous Swanson is for her country at the start of 2023. Getting her back on the target list ahead of the Olympics feels like a win in itself. Hayes hopes to prepare Swanson for the kind of big tournament performance at the Olympics that was robbed of her at last summer’s World Cup.

-Jeff Reuter


Davidson scores first USWNT prop

Davidson tripled her international career goals in one match. Her first goal, and even this only friendly match, was in 2018 against Chile. Both of her goals on Saturday were headers from corner kicks, the first by Catarina Macario and the second by Swanson. Davidson was positioned at the back post for both.

“We were changing a lot of different things,” Davidson said after the match when asked about working more on set-pieces under Hayes. “I think we were kind of committed to what we wanted to do, and for me it was kind of rounding the back, making sure nothing got to the end. And those two services came to me, so I made sure to bring them back.

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None of Davidson’s teammates seemed surprised by the headers. Set-pieces were clearly part of their preparation, and Davidson in particular was a clear target at the back post throughout. Sophia Smith described Davidson as “dominant” from set-pieces, although she expressed some surprise that Davidson scored twice.

Mal Swanson simply smiled and said “of course” when asked if she expected Davidson to dominate the corners. As for Davidson herself, she laughed when she met “Happy Pride” in the mixed area.

“I already said that to our press officer,” she said. “I’ve been like Pride Month. Gay scores.

-Steve Young


Hayes player turnover

Hayes has stressed how important it is for the players on her roster to have the ability to play multiple positions on the pitch, so it’s no surprise that players have already shown glimpses of that kind of versatility and creativity under her leadership. It is also important for Hayes to test as many players as possible in the two friendlies against South Korea, especially as the manager eyes the Olympics this summer, which features a roster of just 18 players.

While the first half saw no changes for the USA or South Korea, Hayes shuffled a total of six players in the second half, with Casey Krueger, Jayden Shaw, Sam Stapp, Lavelle, Crystal Dunn and Corbin Albert all joining the game.

The only players left for the full match were Jenna Nijsönger and Naomi Girma in defence, Jane Campbell in goal and Swanson up front.

While at NJ/NY Gotham FC, Nighswonger proved her flexibility by rotating between positions in her two seasons with the club, earning NWSL Rookie of the Year honors in 2023. And Girma, who wore the captain’s armband when Lindsey Horan was sent off in favor of Albert. , established herself as the backbone of the back line.

-Melanie Ansidi


USWNT honors Pride Month, and Albert gets booed again

Before beginning her post-match interview with TNT, Hayes made a point to acknowledge why the USWNT wears rainbow-themed numbers on the back of their jerseys.

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“First and foremost, I want to say happy Pride Month,” Hayes said. “I only knew it was today.”

US Soccer has partnered with LGBTQ+ charity You Can Play Project for the sixth year in a row to “celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month in June,” the federation said.

As part of the partnership, the U.S. women’s and men’s teams will wear jerseys bearing Pride-inspired rainbow numbers during games in June. Signed jerseys from each member of both teams will be up for auction on Friday, May 31 through US Soccer, and all proceeds will go to the You Can Play Project, which works to “help promote a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community,” US Soccer said in a press release. .

One of the auction pages set up is dedicated to USWNT midfielder Albert, who shared anti-LGBTQ+ content on social media and later apologized earlier this year after pressure from former and current USWNT players, including Megan Rapinoe.

Booing was heard from the fans in the stadium and in the broadcast after the broadcaster mentioned Albert’s name when she replaced Horan in the 71st minute.

“I want to sincerely apologize for my actions on social media,” she wrote in part on Instagram in March. “Liking and sharing offensive, insensitive and hurtful posts was immature and disrespectful, and was never my intention.”

Albert, 20, is a midfielder for French women’s top flight club Paris Saint-Germain. She was part of the USWNT team at the CONCACAF W Gold Cup and SheBelieves tournaments as well as friendlies this month.

“We want to create a tolerant, respectful and inclusive environment, but I want to make sure that our players are going to come and play and that they are representing the national team. I want you to know that I will always make sure that I am educating and doing the right things in the background to make sure everyone is committed to that,” Hayes said after the game. To make sure that our players, when they go out and play with us, they feel supported by all of us. “For me, this is really important.”

(Photo: Brad Smith/Getty Images)