The U.S. women's national team returned to winning ways on Thursday, securing a 3-0 win over South Africa at Cincinnati's TQL Stadium in their first match since the Women's World Cup while also saying goodbye to Julie Ertz.
The match started tepidly and saw both teams have their chances, but the USWNT scored three times in a 10-minute span before halftime to take a commanding lead. The first came in the 32nd minute off a corner when a redirected ball found Lynn Williams, who scored smoothly from close distance despite South Africa's attempt to clear the ball off the goal line.
Two minutes later, the hosts doubled the lead. The USWNT combined beautifully in midfield before sending the ball towards goal. Alex Morgan had the ball on the left side of goal but instead of taking the shot herself, she smartly sent the ball toward Trinity Rodman, who made a run and was right in front of goal. From there, it was a simple finish for the young forward.
Williams completed her brace in the 41st minute, again off a corner. Andi Sullivan's corner found Lindsey Horan, who flicked the ball towards Williams. The goalscorer got an awkward touch on the ball but was still able to find the back of the net and send her team into the halftime break with a 3-0 lead.
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The victory also served as a farewell for Ertz, who started and captained the team until she was subbed off in the 35th minute. Ertz played for the national team for 10 years and at three World Cups and was an important member of the squads that won the sport's biggest prize in 2015 and 2019. She was active during her brief final appearance and had a few looks on goal but was unable to score.
The USWNT return to action on Sunday, when they will play South Africa again, this time in Chicago. That match will serve as a sendoff for Megan Rapinoe, who will retire following the conclusion of the NWSL season.