Carli Lloyd's 2 Goals Lead USWNT to Win vs. Belgium in Friendly

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2019

The US's Carli Lloyd (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Belgium during the International Women's friendly football match between the US and Belgium at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on April 7, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
MARK RALSTON/Getty Images

The United States women's national team gained more momentum on its way to the World Cup with a 6-0 win over Belgium in Sunday's international friendly.

Three days after a 5-3 win over Australia, the offense was impressive once again with Carli Lloyd leading the way with two goals and an assist at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.

The Americans used their athleticism to dominate in this one with five headed goals in the game. Alex Morgan was the only one to use her legs, scoring in the second half to help seal an easy victory for the home team.

The squad is now 4-1-2 so far in 2019, although this was the first match of the year against an opponent not headed to the World Cup.

       

Carli Lloyd Must Be Part of Starting XI at World Cup

At 36 years old, Lloyd remains a part of the United States roster but has had a reduced role over the past couple of years. It appeared she would be relegated to a spot on the bench behind younger, more dynamic offensive players.

However, she showed Sunday what she can do when in the lineup.

The veteran scored her first goal of 2019 with a header in the 14th minute and then got her second just five minutes later:

Belgium isn't the strongest opponent, but Lloyd was very active throughout the game and showed the type of impact she can have in the middle of the field.

Several observers pictured a similar impact at the World Cup:

With 107 career goals during international play, she has certainly shown a knack for finding the back of the net. You can trust her to come through with a strong finish if it comes to her in a key part of a match.

Even if she doesn't score, her reputation will force the defense to give her extra attention, which will open things up for the rest of her teammates.

The veteran proved this with a beautiful assist to Morgan in the second half:

Lloyd might not be able to play 90 minutes every match in France, but she should be given as much of an opportunity as she can to make a difference.

         

USWNT Should Rely on Experienced Back Line

Defense has been a significant concern for the United States over the past year, and the three goals allowed against Australia last game raised more question marks.

The constant shifting in personnel has been problematic, not only with different players in the lineup but also as they move into different positions.

However, Sunday's match was a move back to normalcy for the Americans.

Ali Krieger got her first start in about two years, but it was the 99th cap of her international career. Julie Ertz was shifted back to defense, where she starred during the 2015 World Cup.

Then there was Becky Sauerbrunn, who is one of the most reliable players on the roster and was making her 155th career cap.

This veteran lineup was a change after the team relied upon the less experienced Emily Sonnett and Abby Dahlkemper last match. Crystal Dunn was also used at left back against Australia but was shifted further up the field against Belgium, where she looked more comfortable.

The USWNT seemed much more effective when its veterans were on the back line and preventing any easy looks at the net.

With the World Cup only months away, head coach Jill Ellis needs to turn to the players she can trust the most.

       

What's Next?

The United States will prepare for its last set of friendlies in May before the FIFA World Cup in June. The team will host South Africa, New Zealand and Mexico as part of its send-off series.

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