Jill Ellis

U.S. women's national soccer team blanks Germany in 'fantastic test'

U.S. women's national soccer team blanks Germany in 'fantastic test'

CHESTER, Pa. -- The U.S. women's national team kicked off its 2017 campaign with a convincing win.

Lynn Williams and the USWNT pushed past a competitive German side to claim the 1-0 win in its first match of the 2017 SheBelieves Cup tournament on Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium. 

"Fantastic test," USWNT coach Jill Ellis said. "What we've been trying to do is work on playing all around, on very specific things. Germany is hard to break down and physically they are organized. Transitions are good. Every level we got tested. I think the confidence our players had on the ball and to play out, that was a big card to put in our back pocket."

Not perfect, as FIFA's top-ranked American-side slowly warmed to a new 3-4-1-2 formation, the victory was still a confidence-boosting one. Germany is the second-ranked team in the world. The match was both clubs' first in 2017. 

"We want to be playing teams like this," USWNT captain Carli Lloyd said. "It's going to test us and that's what we need, ultimately. There's no better tournament than this. We're going to have some great games lined up this year against some top teams. It's what we want and it's really where we can work on stuff and implement things." 

The USWNT broke the scoreless draw in the 56th minute, when Christen Press stole the ball from Isabel Kerschowski and tore into the box from the right side. Cutting aggressively to the middle, Press fired off a strong shot that deflected off the crossbar and in the direction of Tobin Heath, whose attempt deflected off a defender and to the feet of Lynn Williams for her second career goal and 1-0 USWNT lead.

"She defended really well, got the ball and took a great shot," said Williams, who was making her sixth cap. "Tobin was right there to put it back across and I happened to be there at the right time to put it in the goal."

The goal activated Williams, who came alive and nearly buried a second goal from the doorstep just minutes later, firing it high. The 23-year-old California native was subbed out in the 79th minute for Alex Morgan, but made an imprint on the game.

"It just gives me confidence," she said. "Every single time you come to this team you have to be on your A game. We still need to know how to play with each other, but the win in general is good for the team."

The match was a homecoming for the FIFA Women's Player of the Year award winner Lloyd and Julie Johnston. Lloyd, who is from Delran, New Jersey, made the start in the midfield, while defender Johnston, fiance of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, was not used.

"I thought we definitely outplayed them and we definitely could have had three or four more goals," Lloyd said. "I think the formation suits us. At the end of the day, it's soccer. We just have to move the ball and see what's on and we did that tonight and had some great attacks."

The USWNT will take on England on March 4 at Red Bull Arena.