Discover more from The Blazing Musket
Recap: USWNT 3 - 0 South Africa
Julie Ertz makes her 123rd and final cap as the United States secures a 3-0 shutout victory!
Fans inside TQL Stadium and abroad said their goodbyes to Julie Ertz as the midfielder made her 123rd and final appearance for the United States as the USWNT hosted South Africa for an international friendly.
Thursday’s match marked the first outing for the USWNT since their early exit from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup after a devastating shootout loss to Sweden on August 6th. It also marked interim Head Coach Twila Kilgore’s first game with the team since assuming the role following Vlatko Andonovski resignation on August 16th.
Alyssa Naeher started in goal as Crystal Dunn, Naomi Girma, Alana Cook, and Emily Fox comprised the back line. Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, and Emily Sonnet were in the midfield, while Lynn Williams, Alex Morgan, and Trinity Rodman started up top.
The Blazing Musket is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Williams was at the right place at the right time in the third minute as South Africa’s keeper, Kaylin Swart’s pass lacked pace. Williams ran onto the loose ball and attempted to catch Swart off guard as she tried to chip the keeper. Unfortunately, Williams’ chip had too much on it as it sailed out of play.
Ertz came close to finding the net in the 18th minute as Horan’s corner kick found Ertz alone inside the box. Ertz jumped a hair too soon as she caught the underside of the ball as it sailed over the goal and out for a goal kick.
Horan tried to get Ertz on the scoreboard in the 21st minute as she sent another cross Ertz’s way. Ertz, who was double covered, leaped into the air and made contact with the ball. Unfortunately, her header to the bottom-left corner lacked power as Swart dove and got to the ball.
Lebohang Ramalepe came close to putting South Africa on the board in the 23rd minute. Ramalepe found herself with the ball outside the box as she attempted to send an inward curling shot to the top-right corner of the goal. Alyssa Naeher quickly positioned herself well but didn’t need to do anything as Ramalepe’s strike had too much curl on it as it sailed out for a goal kick.
Another close chance for South Africa in the 26th minute as Thembi Kgatlana drove down the right flank on the counterattack. Kgatlana pushed into the box and attempted to send a shot on goal, but Naomi Girma stretched her leg out to get a touch on the ball and deflect it out for a corner kick.
Lynn Williams netted her 16th international goal in the 32nd minute after being in the right place at the right time. Horan again tried to target Ertz in the box on the corner kick. Ertz couldn't get to the ball as it deflected off a defender and into the air. The ball fell right to Williams in the center of the box, who headed it on goal. The South African defense attempted to clear the ball off the goal line but was unsuccessful as the US took a 1-0 lead.
The United States wasted no time reapplying pressure as Alex Morgan found herself pushing up the left flank in the 34th minute. Trinity Rodman turned on the jets as she dashed past her defender as Morgan cut the ball centrally to her. Rodman drilled a right-footed shot past Swart and into the net to double the U.S. lead and secure her fifth international goal.
The TQL crowd erupted in applause in the 35th minute as Andi Sullivan came on to replace Ertz. After 123 caps, 20 goals, six assists, and two World Cups, Ertz’s legendary USWNT career had come to an end.
An immaculate display of offense by the U.S came in the 41st minute. It all started when Sullivan sent a corner kick centrally to Horan. Horan jumped into the air and executed a crisp backheel flick to Williams just a yard outside the box. Williams grounded the ball and tapped it into an open net to give the US a commanding 3-0 lead.
One change for the U.S. before the start of the second half. Cincinnati native M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut as she came on to replace Crystal Dunn.
Thembi Kgatlana generated a good opportunity for South Africa in the 48th minute as she drove down the right flank. After evading Andi Sullivan, Kgatlana drove along the goal line and sent a ball centrally. Unfortunately for Kgatlana, the cohort of South African attackers came too far forward as the ball rolled behind them as the U.S. regained possession.
A double substitution came in the 62nd minute as Ashley Sanchez and Ashley Hatch came on for Horan and Morgan. Another double substitution came in the 76th minute as Casey Kruger and Alyssa Thompson came on for Fox and Rodman.
The one thing Julie Ertz emphasized before kickoff was wanting to walk away with a win in her final international match. Thanks to a brace from Lynn Williams and an additional goal from Trinity Rodman, Ertz accomplished that goal as the US walked away with a 3-0 victory.
Both South Africa and the United States will get some rest before reconvening inside Soldier Field on Sunday, September 24th, at 5:30 PM ET on TNT and Universo.