The United States women’s national team returned to winning ways Tuesday, recording a narrow 1-0 victory over Spain at Estadio Jose Rico Perez in Alicante.
The game’s lone goal came in the 54th minute, when substitute Christen Press scored her 47th international goal. The goal was almost entirely a solo effort. Press received a pass from within the USWNT’s half. From there, she went on a run that saw her pass two defenders and work around goalkeeper Sandra Paños to shoot from an angle. Press received help on the finish, when Spain defender Irene Paredes accidentally sent the ball into her own net, but the goal counts as Press’.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) January 22, 2019
The reigning world champions rebounded from Saturday’s 3-1 loss to France that ended a 28-game winning streak, but once again struggled during the match. Though the USWNT had more control than it did against France, the team had difficulty playing against Spain’s press, particularly going forward in the first half. The team posted its worst first-half possession percentage since June of 2016, finishing with 43 percent possession.
The U.S. did fare better in the second half. The team managed to register more shots and also increased its presence in the attacking third, while the hosts’ influence on the match decreased. Press’s introduction provided the USWNT with speed to combat Spain’s defensive structure, following up a performance against France in which she was one of the team’s few bright spots.
USWNT coach Jill Ellis fielded as close to a first-choice lineup as was available, playing Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath after they missed the France match with minor injuries. Additionally, midfielder McCall Zerboni made her return to national team action after picking up an elbow injury in September. She played 20 minutes against Spain.
The USWNT next plays Japan on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the opening match of the annual SheBelieves Cup. The teams will play at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Penn. Kickoff is at 7 p.m and the match will air on Fox Sports 1.