JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)The U.S. women’s soccer team closed out the year with a one-sided victory over Costa Rica, giving the Americans 20 wins in 2019. It was the second win in two matches for new coach Vlatko Andonovski.
Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian scored in the first 10 minutes and Lynn Williams came off the bench to add a pair of second-half goals in the United States’ 6-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday night at TIAA Bank Field. The U.S. was 20-1-3 in 2019, finishing with a 23-match unbeaten streak.
Lloyd started the scoring in the fourth minute, taking a long pass from Rose Lavelle and drilling a shot from the left side of the box past goalkeeper Noelia Bermudez. Lloyd scored twice in a 3-2 victory over Sweden on Thursday night.
Brian added a goal in the 10th minute, taking Lavelle’s pass and sending a scorching shot into the corner of the net. It was especially gratifying for Brian, who grew up in nearby St. Simons Island, Georgia, and conducts camps in the Jacksonville area during the offseason.
”It means a lot to score a goal here,” Brian said. ”It’s been a really long year and a great year and to cap it off here in Jacksonville with a goal is great. Growing up here and coming here in front of family and friends and be able to score a goal is really great. I had over 30 friends and family members here.
”I don’t have a home here anymore but I come back in the offseason to train and to play so this is my soccer home. Yes, my heart is still here.”
Andonovski made several substitutions at halftime and it quickly paid dividends.
Williams converted in the 50th minute off a pass from Tobin Heath. Williams added a second goal in the 68th minute, taking an assist from Jessica McDonald. Williams narrowly missed a hat trick when her point-blank shot was caught by Bermudez late in the game.
Williams said she tries to take advantage of her playing time on the field.
”Any time I get a chance on the field at all, it’s a blessing,” Williams said. ”If my role is to come off the bench and provide a spark, I’ll take it. I’m always going to want to start but I know I have a lot of work to put in and I view it as I have a lot to learn wherever they play me.”
That’s what Andonovski is looking for in Williams’ contribution coming off the bench.
”Lynn did what she’s supposed to do – come off the bench and provide a spark,” the U.S. coach said. ”She stretched the lines for us. Ultimately, she did what every 9 is supposed to do, score goals for us. She checked all the boxes. It’s very comforting and nice to see her doing well in this environment and growing as a player.”
Christen Press also added a second-half goal and the team’s final goal was a Costa Rica own goal.
The closest Costa Rica came to scoring was when Melissa Herrera hit the cross bar on a shot in the 62nd minute and teammate Priscilla Chinchilla did the same in the 76th minute.
Costa Rica, ranked 38th in the world, has never beaten a USA team, having lost 15 consecutive matches. The next time the two teams will meet will be on February 3, 2020 when they play in Houston in the final Group A game in Olympic qualifying.
Even with the lopsided win, Andonovski said there are areas that the U.S. must improve on in the months ahead.
”I don’t want to sound arrogant by any means, but there are things we can grow, that’s the coach in me,” he said. ”Regardless of how well we do, we can always find clips where we can do better in the future. But what is great about this team is that they want to get better. They don’t want to settle for where they are now.
”If you ask me about the result, I’m extremely happy with the result, but we do have to get better.”