College Football & Soccer Analyst
FRISCO, Texas — The U.S. women’s national team will end the year on a high following a 2-1 win over China.
After a first half that felt disjointed and stagnant with seven new starters from Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Steel Roses, the U.S. found its groove in the second half and scored two flashy goals by Sam Coffey and Jaedyn Shaw.
The USWNT’s lineup changes were expected, given that this is the time of year to try out various player combinations and see what works and what doesn’t. As the U.S. prepares for a busy 2024 – which will include the first-ever Concacaf W Gold Cup and the Paris Olympics – interim head coach Twila Kilgore is working with new head coach Emma Hayes to try and give more players opportunities in an effort to widen the player pool.
This was the final match of the year, ending an emotional 2023 that included everything from a disappointing World Cup to seeing legends Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz retire to hiring a new coach in Hayes, who the USWNT hopes will lead them back to the top of the soccer world.
Here are a few quick takeaways from Tuesday’s game:
Play of the game:
You can’t write it any better than this: in the 80th minute, with the game stuck in a 1-1 tie, Shaw scored the game-winning goal in her hometown. After Jenna Nighswonger’s free kick hit a wall of Chinese players, Shaw nailed a bouncing ball straight past goalkeeper Xu Huan.
The 19-year-old Shaw, making her fourth international appearance, grew up in Frisco and had 50 friends and family members in the crowd who were cheering loudly for her throughout the game.
This was a cool moment for Shaw – the fields around Toyota Stadium are where she played club soccer before opting to forgo college and enter the NWSL draft. Earlier this year Shaw, who plays for the San Diego Wave, became the youngest player to score in her NWSL debut.
Coffey’s first-ever goal for the USWNT. In the 62nd minute, Jenna Nighswonger drilled a corner into the middle of the box. China tried to get it out, but Emily Sonnett collected the ball near the penalty spot, tapped it back to Coffee, who curled a beautiful ball into the upper right corner of the net to tie the game 1-1.
This was the first time the USWNT conceded a goal since it’s 1-1 draw vs. the Netherlands in the second match of the World Cup in July.
In the 45th minute, Emily Fox fouled Yan Jinjin just outside the 18-yard box. On the ensuing free kick, Jinjin found Wang Siqian over the top, who headed it past USWNT goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury and an unmarked Shen Mengyu finished it with one touch to give the Steel Roses a 1-0 lead just before halftime.
What’s next for the USWNT?
Much-needed time off. Since before the World Cup, players have been going non-stop with national team camps and their respective NWSL and European seasons. While Lindsey Horan, Mia Fishel and Korbin Albert will head back to their clubs competing in Champions League overseas, everyone else will catch a break. The team will reconvene after the New Year as it gears up for the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup in February and March, as well as the Paris Olympics in July and August.
Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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