USWNT vs. China score: Sophia Smith, Lindsey Horan and Trinity Rodman carry USA to easy friendly win

The United States women's national team picked up another win under interim head coach Twila Kilgore on Saturday. The squad defeated China 3-0 on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to open the two-game series thanks to goals from Sophia Smith, Lindsey Horan and Trinity Rodman. The squad will head to Frisco, Texas to close out the friendlies and the calendar year on Tuesday. 

The U.S. dominated the attack throughout the game but only held a one-goal lead at halftime. Multiple substitutions during the second half helped change the scoreline, but it was Rodman who made her mark throughout the entire 90 minutes setting up Smith's goal in the eighth minute and scoring the third and final goal of the game.

It's officially the first win of the new Emma Hayes era. She was recently named new manager by U.S. Soccer and sporting director Matt Crocker. The trio of Hayes, Crocker and Kilgore collaborated on the roster selection, and Kilgore will handle day-to-day after Hayes completes her club season with Chelsea.

There were already noticeable changes across the squad in the victory against China. Abby Dahlkemper made her return to the pitch for the first time since April 2022. She played a full 90 minutes after an absence from back surgery in November 2022. The match also featured less-capped players and new faces in the mix, with two debuts for Jenna Nighswonger and Olivia Moultrie. 

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USWNT 3-0 China (FT)

Sophia Smith has the USWNT ahead in the opening minutes of the game. Horan extends the lead with a long cross that drifts past the keeper near the far post. Rodman gets a third goal for the USWNT after setting up the opening goal for Smith.

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USWNT WIN!

A three-goal victory for the USWNT to open the pair of friendlies against China. 

 
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Shaw chance!

90+1 Shaw has acres of space in front of her and opts to take a shot from a distance. It's a canon and forces the keeper to get a body part on it and stopped the dangerous attempt.

 
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RODMAN GOAL!

77' Purce gets the ball into the box to Shaw and she deflects the ball in front of the goal towards Fishel, but Rodman is there as an extra runner to slot the ball into the back of the net.

 
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Purce on for Krueger

75' Krueger makes way for Purce, the 2023 NWSL Championship MVP, and she immediately wins a corner.

 
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Another USWNT debut!

71' Olivia Moultrie subs on for Rose Lavelle. The 18-year-old Portland Thorns FC midfielder makes her first-ever senior team appearance. She's the first player born in 2005 to make a USWNT appearance. 

 
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A USWNT debut

Jenna Nighshwonger is fitting right into the game plan at left back. She came in for Emily Fox and has been active along the flank. This is her first senior national team debut.

 
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Fishel chance!

65' Fishel with another chance after Horan and Lavele progress the ball toward Shaw. Fishel had a chance for the finish but her shot is just wide of the far left post.

 
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FISHEL WIDE!

61' Fishel rises to get her head on the ball. She redirects the angle but her shot is just wide for the far post.

 
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Free kick USA

60' Foul on Lavelle is called for a free kick. Shaw is over the ball for the USWNT..

 
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Set piece possesion

55' Lavelle laboring slightly after a challenge. Is back up and since a corner that is cleared away by China for a throw-in. Shaw and Horan with a bit of give-and-go off the throw. Shaw cuts into the box but Fishel isn't able to get anything on  the dangerous ball in.

 
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GOAL USA!

52' Horan sends a lofty cross, targeting Shaw inside the box, but the angle and trajectory is so awkward that Shaw misses the ball and it confuses the keeper and drifts into the far post! USA lead 2-0.

 
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Shaw chance!

48' Shaw on the ball at the top of the ball and doesn't hesitate to take a shot, it's on target but the keeper is in a good position to stop the shot from becoming a dangerous rebound.

 
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Second half underway!

46' Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw are in the match to start the second half for DeMelo and Smith. They were brought on during the late half of the Colomiba friendlies and helped turn the game, and the scoring, around during that international window.

 
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China with a late half corner kick

45+3' Rodman concedes a corner in the final minute of the half but the U.S. cleared away the service into the box. Ball is recycled back in for a throw-in, but the ref calls the half afterward. 

 
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Game slowing before the half 

41' Last ten minutes have been a much slower pace of game since the opening half hour. The change in pace benefits China ahead of halftime. The visitors have a spell of possession and try to get into a dangerous area, but Murphy and Kreuger have the angles covered. 

 
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Two USWNT players down

38' Both DeMelo and Smith are down on the pitch getting some treatment inside the box. Smith appeared to take some contact behind her ankle while on the ball. Both are off to the sideline to check back in as play resumes.

 
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Half hour gone by

31' Krueger threads a long ball through to Smith and she's behind the line and face to face with the keeper but she can't get the angle right and her shot goes wide of the far post. The game has been fairly dominated by the USWNT, but the lack of finishing is still a problem and the narrow scoreline will work in China's favor. 

 
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USWNT CHANCE!

24' USWNT with all the pressure as DeMelo gets the ball into the box. Smith is there with a wide open look off a deflection but she misses the angle and the ball is over the ball. Feels like Smith could have had multiple goals this first half.

 
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Stoppage of play

22' Krueger with a lofty cross into the box, and targets Horan inside the box, but the ball is punched away. A brief stoppage of play as Dou Jiaxing gets treatment after getting sandwiched between the keeper and Horan.

 
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DeMelo goes down in the box

20' DeMelo feels some contact in the box and goes down. No call by the official but multiple USWNT players questioning the no-call. Contact seemed minimal upson the replay.

 
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Second corner for USWNT

15' Smith is getting into scoring situations for the squad, has another shot saved and a dangerous ball cleared away. Krueger is active on the right hand side, playing high in the attack, and wins another corner for the USWNT, but China clears the danger away for a goal kick.

 
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OFF THE POST!

Smith with another look on target this time from distance. She had some strength behind the shot and it forces the keeper into a save as the ball is out for a corner.

 
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GOAL SOPHIA SMITH

8' It's been ALL USA in the opening minutes. Girma finds Rodman out wide on the left and she quickly sends the ball into the box toward a darting Smith making her run into the box. Smith slots the goal into the back of the net. It's her 15th career goal for Smith. 

 
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Prediction

We're a few minutes from kickoff so let's have some fun with a little prediction:

The USWNT will want to close out their year on a high note, but the first game out of club season with new faces, less capped players, and a new coaching team might mean some periods of adjustment. Pick: USWNT 1, China 0.

 
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China starting lineup

Here's how the opposition is rolling out. Shen Mengyu gets the start while Shen Menglu is available off the bench. The duo play their club soccer in Scotland with Celtic FC. Eyes will be on Zhang Linyan, who is currently on loan with Tottenham.

China: 12-Xu Huan, 2-Li Mengwen, 3-Dou Jiaxing, 5-Liu Yanqiu, 8-Yao Wei, 9-Shen Mengyu, 17-Yan Jinjin, 19-Zhang Linyan, 20-Wu Rigumula, 23-Tang Jiali, 25-Wang Siqian

Available Subs: 22-Pan Hongyan, 7-Wang Yanwen, 11-Wang Shanshan, 18-Shen Menglu, 24-Jin Kun, 26-Li Tingyingge, 27-Huo Yuexin

Head coach: Wang Jun     

 
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Abby Dahlkemper returns to the pitch

Defender Abby Dahlkemper to the national team stage for the first time since April 2022. The defender had a successful back surgery in November 2022. She will get the start alongside San Diego Wave FC teammate Naomi Girma. The duo is coming off an NWSL quarterfinals appearance, and Girma also featured in fall fixtures for the national team against South Africa and Colombia.

Dahlkemper will earn her 80th cap for the USWNT and become the 50th player in USWNT history to make 80 or more international appearances – with today's appearance as her 71st career start.

 
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What does it all mean?

The first collaborative Kilgore/Hayes USWNT starting lineup is already a success in that many are wondering what will it all look like on the pitch. Could we see a 4-4-2 and what will the midfield look like? Lindsey Horan will captain the team, and Rose Lavelle will make her first start for the national team since August 1. She is coming off an NWSL Championship runners-up appearance with OL Reign, where she scored a goal and had a massive individual performance. 

Goalkeeper Casey Murphy gets the call in net for her 17th cap for the USWNT. Murphy has a shutout in each of her previous five appearances this year and recorded her 12th career clean sheet in the USA's Oct. 29 win over Colombia in San Diego.

Trinity Rodman is making her 17th appearance and 11th start of 2023. Only one player 21 or younger has made more appearances a calendar year over the last 15 years (Mallory Swanson - 19 in 2019). This will be the sixth consecutive start for Rodman, who is tied for the team lead with seven goal involvements this year with four goals and three assists.

 
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USWNT Staring Lineup has dropped!

Here's who is in the Starting XI for today's match against China:

USWNT: 1-Casey Murphy; 2-Abby Dahlkemper, 8-Trinity Rodman, 10-Lindsey Horan (Capt.), 11-Sophia Smith, 14-Emily Sonnett, 15-Naomi Girma, 16-Rose Lavelle, 20-Casey Krueger, 22-Savannah DeMelo, 23-Emily Fox

Available Subs: 21-Jane Campbell; 4-Sam Coffey, 5-Alana Cook, 6-Lynn Williams, 9-Midge Purce, 12-Tierna Davidson, 13-Jenna Nighswonger, 17-Alyssa Thompson, 19-Mia Fishel, 25-Olivia Moultrie, 26-Jaedyn Shaw, 27-Korbin Albert

Head coach: Twila Kilgore

 
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Player to watch: Trinity Rodman

Rodman made her senior team debut in 2022 and has six goals in over her 26 appearances in the last two years. She's seen her role elevate in the attack during 2023, especially after an injury to Mallory Swanson ahead of the World Cup, but she's become a key part of the USWNT's next generation of players. She recently spoke about her reaction to Hayes' hiring and first impressions of her new coach. 

She's looking forward to building with the staff, including Kilgore, here's what she had to say about working with the interim manager this year:

"I have respect for her because going from an assistant coach role to head coach is difficult, and you kind of have to coach differently and have a bigger responsibility," Rodman said during pregame media.

"So the transition she's made for that is insane.  The work that she puts in is so respectable and admirable. So kudos to her for that. But the relationships [have] been good. She pushes me really hard. She pushes the team really hard, and with that, she knows the standard and she knows how and when to push certain players. She's not pushing every single player at the exact same moment, the exact same standard. I think she has such a good understanding of people and she knows what each individual needs which is really important."

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