The first match under the Tom Sermanni era started with a young face getting her first international match as Christen press started on the wing. Jill Loyden would be rewarded for a good week of camp getting the start in goal for an injured Hope Solo. The U.S. was a heavy favorite in the first of a two leg exhibition schedule against Scotland.
U.S. Starters: Loyden; Krieger, Rampone (c), Sauerbrunn, O’Hara; Press, Boxx, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan, Wambach
The game went much to plan in the early going as the U.S. squad won much of the possession. The first ten minutes were about the U.S. showing crisp passing but unable to find the vital last connection. Scotland would counter with long pressing passes hoping to catch the high line of the U.S. back four sleeping. The game even got a bit chippy early with Shannon Boxx going in on a hard tackle and Alex Morgan tangling with Joanne Love.
Press would make a memorable day even more special opening the scoring in the 13th minute. A free kick near the midfield line was headed down right to Press just outside the box and she would slot it in the near top corner. The forward turned midfielder became the 17th USWNT player to score in her first international match and the first since Natasha Kai in 2006. She was not done scoring again in the 30th minute. The U.S. won possession in the middle with a series of passes along the left sideline. Tobin Heath would gather and have plenty of space to examine the pitch. Heath’s long 40 yard cross through the box would be headed home by Press as Kelly O’Hara made a near post run. This means Press joins Cindy Parlow and Sherrill Kester as the only players to score twice in their debut.
The second half would be full of substitutions as Sermanni had five more at his disposal. Nicole Barnhart would get the nod at keeper in the second half. Boxx would add to the scoring in the 53rd minute as she took a pass from Press and knocked it down to herself to hit a cracker off the half volley. Scotland would get on the board just two minutes later as Kim Little would take advantage of a bad clearance by Becky Sauerbraunn.
Scotland pressed more in the second half but the U.S. had the better chances. There were many scrambles in the area that the squad was unable to convert. Substitute Yael Averbuch would knock a free kick off the crossbar from about 35 yards. Barnhart would have to make one big save in the 86th minute. The victory would be capped off by a Sydney Leroux goal in the 88th minute as Averbuch would play a long ball over the top in typical route one fashion from just behind the midfield line. Leroux would beat the rushing keeper Gemma Fay to the ball and flick it around her into the net.
Morgan would take a knock in the 40th minute in a foot to ankle collision with Love. Morgan had to be helped off the field and was immediately subbed out by Sermanni. Sydney Leroux would take her place. Morgan may be given extra time off to rest the ankle despite the return match with Scotland in Nashville on the 13th. She will be evaluated further tonight and tomorrow.
There were 18,656 in Jacksonville to witness the win that is part of preparations for the impending Algarve Cup in Portugal.