U.S. women's soccer

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.

Report: Carli Lloyd likely to accept contract offer from Manchester City

Report: Carli Lloyd likely to accept contract offer from Manchester City

It looked unlikely at first but U.S. soccer star and Delran, N.J. product Carli Lloyd is on the verge of accepting a contract offer from Manchester City, according to Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannewald. 

Details of the contract have not surfaced yet but it is speculated that Lloyd will sign this week, according to the report. This presents a perfect situation for Lloyd if she decides to sign now because the league is in a shortened season. The league transitioned to the new format in 2017 -- it's calling it "Spring Series" and is played from April to June. 

This could give Lloyd a sample taste of playing overseas, also allowing her to return to the Houston Dash by June to finish the National Women's Soccer League season.

“That is just one possible scenario, and it admittedly includes some speculation on my part,” wrote Tannewald. “But it is worth knowing, not least because a short deal would be similar to the deal Alex Morgan signed with French club Lyon. Morgan will be in France until the end of the French league and UEFA Champions League campaigns in early June, then return to the Orlando Pride.”

If Lloyd accepts the offer she will become the third U.S. national team player to sign with the English league this year. The other two: Crystal Dunn who signed with Chelsea and Heather O’Reilly signing with Arsenal shortly after. 

U.S. women's soccer ousted from Olympics with PK loss to Sweden

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Associated Press

U.S. women's soccer ousted from Olympics with PK loss to Sweden

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Taunted by local fans since the Olympics began and stinging from a surprising loss, Hope Solo called Sweden a "bunch of cowards."

The U.S. goalkeeper criticized the Swedes for the way they played Friday in beating the Americans in a penalty shootout -- a result that means the world's top-ranked team will miss out on a medal in women's soccer for the first time.

"I thought we played a courageous game," Solo said. "I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly and firmly believe that."

The Swedes beat the U.S. 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the quarterfinals. They will next face either Australia or host Brazil.

"It's OK to be a coward if you win," responded Sweden coach Pia Sundhage, the same woman who coached the United States to back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

A few hours after the match, Solo posted on Twitter and seemed to feel some remorse, but she stopped short of apologizing.

"Losing sucks," Solo tweeted. "I'm really bad at it."

Tied after three rounds in the shootout, Sweden captain Caroline Seger shot past Solo. U.S. forward Christen Press' attempt then went over Hedvig Lindahl's net. And with the next kick, Lisa Dahlkvist beat an outstretched Solo for the win.

"Sweden dropped off. They didn't want to open play," Solo said, explaining why she criticized her opponents. "They didn't want to pass the ball. They didn't want to play great soccer."

Sundhage knows the U.S. team well, having coached the Americans for five years and led them to a pair of Olympic golds.

"They played more attacking football then we did. We defended very well," Sundhage said. "And the fact that there were only two goals and it went to penalty kicks said something about our defending. The U.S. played better in the attack, we played better in the defense."

As Sweden celebrated, U.S. captain Carli Lloyd crouched on the field at Mane Garrincha Stadium in disbelief.

The three-time defending champion United States had been the clear favorites in Brazil to become the first team to win an Olympic gold following a Women's World Cup title.

"It's always hard to swallow losing in PKs. Yeah, I mean it's going to hurt," Lloyd said. "We've got to hold our heads high. This team is not going to crumble. We're going to just work that much harder. It's been a busy couple of years. That's why no one has won back-to-back."

Solo, who has endured near-constant taunts of "Zika! Zika!" for a week, has courted controversy for her comments in the past. And on Friday, she was also criticized for changing her gloves during the penalty shootout.

After a scoreless first half, Stina Blackstenius scored in the 61st minute to give Sweden a 1-0 lead. Alex Morgan netted the equalizer in the 78th and the match went to extra time.

Lloyd then had a header called back for offside in the 115th minute, and Lotta Schelin was offside on her attempt against Solo a minute later -- although replays appeared to show otherwise.

The reigning World Cup champions, who are also four-time Olympic champions, had not dropped a match this year.

"Really just heartbroken right now for the girls and the federation. It's unfortunate," said Morgan, who missed the first penalty in the shootout. "I feel like we were prepared but so were Sweden. I felt today could go either way."

The Americans won their first two matches in Brazil before a surprising 2-2 draw in Manaus against Colombia, which had already been eliminated.

Sweden had won only five prior matches against the United States. At last year's World Cup, the two teams played to a scoreless draw. The last time the two teams met in the Olympics was at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Sundhage was a player on the Sweden team that fell 2-1 to the Americans.

Ranked sixth in the world, Sweden had struggled in its Olympic group with a 5-1 loss to host Brazil and finished 1-1-1.

The crowd at Mane Garrincha Stadium was sparse but continued to jeer Solo every time she touched the ball. The local fans are still upset about her posts on social media about the Zika virus. Solo posted a picture of herself in mosquito netting and armed with insect repellant.