FOOTBALL: U.S. hardly sharp, but dominates South Africa, 3-0, in Santa Clara

U.S. midfielder Sam Mewis

The United States women’s national squad didn’t have to play much defense against South Africa, but found the going tougher on offense and settled for a 3-0 win at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday.

The South Africans, who will play in the 2019 World Cup in France, were unable to manage any sustained offense against the U.S., which played almost all of the game on offense.

The first half was slow, but got a goal in the 37th minute on a right-footed rocket on a twist-and-shoot move from midfielder Sam Mewis for a 1-0 lead and the only goal of the half.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis subbed liberally in the second half, including bringing Megan Rapinoe – recovering from a calf injury – into the game for more offense.

That proved to be a key move, as Rapinoe was the key to a second goal, in the 78th minute. Her cross into the box pinpointed where Mewis and South Africa substitute keeper Kaylin Swart were going to collide, and as the ball ricocheted off of Swart, it hit Mewis and dribbled into the goal for a 2-0 advantage. The two goals were Mewis’s 10th and 11th career international goals.

The game was well decided, but the U.S. kept attacking into stoppage time. That resulted in a third goal, as Rapinoe’s cross found Mallory Pugh in the box. There was a lot of congestion, but Pugh’s left-footed boot dribbled toward Carli Lloyd, who kicked the ball into the goal for the final score. It was the 108th international goal for Lloyd.

The U.S. has a 19-5 advantage in shots and a 69-31% advantage in possession.

The U.S. women have their next tune-up match against another 2019 Women’s World Cup team, New Zealand, on Thursday (16th) in St. Louis.