Sophia Smith and Naomi Girma lead the charge
You couldn’t listen to the match commentary for more than 30 seconds without hearing Sophia Smith’s name. Smith holding up the ball, Smith sneaking a through ball into Trinity Rodman, Smith firing off a shot, Smith celebrating a goal.
She’s young and she’s battling the occasional center back that’s twice her size, but Smith cowers to no one. Her speed and crafty footwork allow her to outmaneuver the world’s best back lines and she’s masterful at drawing a foul in the rare scenario where she can’t sneak by.
In case you snoozed through the rest of her contributions, Sophia Smith sent home the USWNT’s lone goal for good measure.
Trinity Rodman, another young USWNT striker with the potential for giving tour-de-force performances, shares many of the same attributes as Smith, and together they wreak havoc in the absolute best way. Add Alex Morgan back in the mix and you’ve got a front line I’d happily send out against the world’s best.
On the other end of the field, Naomi Girma set up a roadblock and wasn’t letting a soul through. The 22-year-old defender was matching England’s fastest strikers stride for stride, shutting down dangerous through balls. Girma gave a clean, dominant performance.
A handful of USWNT players left something to be desired in their performances, but from Smith down to Girma with Lindsey Horan and Andi Sullivan giving solid performances in between, the center of the field was in good hands.
With a Tuesday match against Spain and two November dates with Germany, the USWNT will continue to be tested as they approach the start of the World Cup. These games are invaluable for exploring the USWNT’s weaknesses and continuing to form a cohesive unit.
I can happily declare however that their weaknesses are mildly less alarming to me after Thursday’s match.