The United States Women's National Team defeated Colombia 3-0 in an international friendly on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, to open up their summer slate.
It was an opportunity for USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski to get a good look at a number of young players before entering World Cup and Olympic Qualifying at the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico next month.
With veterans like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Kristie Mewis on the bench to start Saturday's game, Andonovski's starting XI full of young players failed to find the back of the net in the opening half despite a number of chances.
Jason Anderson of Pro Soccer Wire detailed what he believed were the U.S.'s most significant struggles were in the first half:
Jason Anderson @JasonDCsoccer
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USWNT</a> has had 2 issues so far IMO:<br><br>- General speed of play (pretty obvious)<br>- Width (attacks are via Smith/Pugh, not getting fullbacks forward to create overloads or stretch Colombian shape)
That said, the Americans dominated the first 45 minutes of action, totaling 12 shots, three of which were on goal, and controlled possession, preventing Colombia from attempting a single shot on goalkeeper Casey Murphy.
Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith were among the U.S.'s best players in the first half, combining for five shots. However, the team's best scoring opportunity came on a penalty shot attempt from Lindsey Horan.
After Colombia's Carolina Arias took down Smith in the penalty area, the U.S. was awarded a penalty kick, but Horan's shot toward the bottom corner of the goal was stopped by goalkeeper Catalina Perez.
The United States opened up the second half by making a number of changes, subbing in Morgan and Ashley Sanchez to replace Ashley Hatch and Horan, respectively.
The substitutions ended up paying off as Sanchez showed off some fantastic individual skills before Smith found the back of the next in the 54th minute on a brilliant through pass from Rose Lavelle.
As Smith raced toward the ball, Perez came too far out of the net in an attempt to cut off Smith's angle and was unsuccessful as the American tallied her first of the night.
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
🇺🇸 <a href="https://twitter.com/roselavelle?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@roselavelle</a> ➡️ <a href="https://twitter.com/sophsssmith?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sophsssmith</a> 🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/USWNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USWNT</a> takes the lead over Colombia 🙌 <a href="https://t.co/sCBDK8pZxK">pic.twitter.com/sCBDK8pZxK</a>
Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf
Sophia Smith breaks the deadlock in the 54th minute, courtesy of Rose Lavelle's possession and final pass in the middle of the park after Colombia steps up. Ashley Sanchez has already put her mark on this game. 1-0 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USWNT</a>
Shortly after, Lavelle and Smith connected again in the 60th minute as Smith notched her second goal of the game.
Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf
Rose Lavelle to Sophia Smith again. Lavelle's final ball is great, but don't overlook that she goes and pickpockets that ball to win it back. Wrote this recently for <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNFC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPNFC</a> & stats back it up: Lavelle is much better defensively than she gets credit for.<a href="https://t.co/5Q8KMq0xJx">https://t.co/5Q8KMq0xJx</a>
The Americans were given another chance to score on a penalty shot in the 70th minute when Arias took down Morgan on the back post on a pass from Hatch. However, Perez made another impressive stop, this time on Lavelle, who tried to send the ball into the bottom left corner.
The action fizzled down until Taylor Kornieck scored her first goal as a member of the USWNT in the 90th minute when she found the back of the net on a header off a set piece from Megan Rapinoe.
It was Kornieck's first cap for the Americans, and her goal concluded an impressive second half from some of the team's young players following a shaky first half.
The U.S. will take on Colombia again on Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah as they continue to warm up for the CONCACAF W Championship, which is slated to begin on July 4 with a matchup against Haiti.
Expect Andonovski to once again turn to his younger players for Tuesday's match.