BC-SOC--Mexico-US Women,1st Ld-Writethru
HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Tobin Heath was gifted a goal by a goalkeeper error early in the first half, Mallory Pugh and Christen Press scored late in the second and the United States beat Mexico 3-0 Sunday in a World Cup send-off match that for much of the afternoon showed the Americans’ failings more than their facets.
Seeking its second straight World Cup title and fourth overall, the top-ranked U.S. has seven wins and two draws since a Jan. 19 defeat at France that ended a 28-game unbeaten streak. The Americans leave Monday for London, where they will be based at Tottenham’s training camp before heading to France. They open against Thailand on June 11, then play Chile and Sweden.
Mexico failed to qualify after consecutive group stage eliminations, is ranked 26th and fielded a relatively inexperienced team mixed with a few veterans.
Goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago caused the first goal when she made a careless pass to defender Rebeca Bernal, who wasn’t looking for the ball. Heath ran onto the ball, took three touches to create space from Santiago and put the U.S. ahead in the 11th minute with her 30th international goal, her 11th in her last 15 appearances.
Carli Lloyd, the 2015 star who is now a role player at age 36, entered at the start of the second half and sparked the second goal with runs up the left side. She burst up the field and put the ball in front of the goal, where it went in off Pugh’s foot in the 76th.
Press made the most impressive offensive move for the U.S., controlling a cross at the top of the penalty area, spinning and scoring her 48th international goal in the 88th minute.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis made one change from the starting lineup she used in previous exhibitions against South Africa and New Zealand, starting Samantha Mewis in central midfield in place of Lindsey Horan. Mewis entered with four goals in her previous three games.
The rest of the lineup seems set. Alyssa Naeher was in goal, with Kelley O’Hara at right back, Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper in central defense and Crystal Dunn at left back, where she moved a year ago from wide midfield.
Julie Ertz was the defensive midfielder in the 4-3-3 formation, with Mewis and Rose Lavelle in central midfield. Alex Morgan headed the attack, flanked by pink-haired Megan Rapinoe on the left and Heath on the right.
At the end of the national anthem, fans raised a giant red and blue banner behind a goal with white lettering “ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR FOUR:” In the center was a large gold star.
Morgan missed a tap-in off Dunn’s cross in the 29th minute, the ball glancing off her left foot. Heath shanked an open shot from inside the penalty area in the 33rd and one minute later Morgan broke in alone, only for Santiago to save her point-blank shot. Santiago denied Dunn twice with diving blocks in the last minutes of the first half.
On a sunny afternoon when the temperature approached 90 degrees in the second half, there were repeated water breaks. Press, Lloyd, Pugh and Allie Long entered after halftime for Sauerbrunn, Rapinoe, Morgan and Dunn, and Heath moved from right wing to left back.
With her 274th appearance, Lloyd tied Julie Foudy for fourth behind Kristine Lilly (354), Christie Rampone (311) and Mia Hamm (276).