Matildas snatch 1-1 draw against USA in second friendly in Newcastle

The Matildas have drawn 1-1 in their second and final friendly match against world champions USA in their last hit-out before January’s Asian Cup.

Australian winger Kyah Simon clawed a goal back in the dying stages of the game in Newcastle, cancelling out an early goal from American striker Ashley Hatch in the fourth minute.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson made a few changes to the starting XI after Australia’s 3-0 defeat to the USA on Saturday, switching out goalkeeper Teagan Micah for the more experienced Lydia Williams, while Hayley Raso and teen star Kyra Cooney-Cross also started ahead of Caitlin Foord and Jessika Nash.

The Matildas started sluggishly, allowing Hatch and winger Margaret Purce time and space for a simple run and cut-back to open the scoring.

A Matildas player attempts to dribble the ball while being challenged by a USA opponent.
Hayley Raso, left, made her presence felt in attack for the Matildas.(Getty: Mark Kolbe)

But Australia rallied as the first half wore on, creating more opportunities going forward, particularly through returning winger Raso, though they continued having difficulties connecting crosses and through-balls for marked striker and captain Sam Kerr.

The energy and tempo from both sides seemed to peter out after the break, perhaps a result of the sapping humidity in Newcastle after a day of rain.

A Matildas player closes her eyes in frustration against the USA.
Sam Kerr was targetted by the USA’s defence throughout the match.(Getty: Mark Kolbe)

However, a flock of changes towards the end of the second half — including centre-back Alanna Kennedy and midfielder Clare Wheeler — brought new life to the Matildas, and it was Wheeler’s crucial slide-tackle that started a move leading to Simon’s equaliser, which was helped into the net by a nasty deflection from American centre-back Becky Sauerbrunn.

The goal lifted the record-breaking crowd of 20,495 spectators — the second-highest for a Matildas home match in history — and the hosts were able to see out the draw, despite a late goal from USA midfielder Lindsey Horan that was called back for offside.

With the Asian Cup now squarely in their sights, Australia will be happy with its improved scoreline, but questions still linger over squad selection and tactics; questions that Gustavsson must now try to answer without any more international windows to do so.

Look back over the action with our blog.

Live updates

By Samantha L

Final thoughts

The 1-1 score-line certainly saves face for the Matildas after a fairly unimpressive performance against the USA in their final friendly match before their next major tournament.

Tony Gustavsson now doesn’t have the luxury of access to players or organised games against top ten nations to prepare for a tournament that he has said he wants to win.

There are still a number of questions hanging over the side as they depart for their clubs, which this match didn’t feel much closer to answering.

But Gustavsson has one thing going for him: the Tokyo Olympics. Despite his short time with the side after taking over in January, he got the Matildas to an historic fourth-placed finish at that tournament in July.

That run was part of his “performance mode” category, as opposed to the “preparation mode” of friendlies like these.

The Tokyo result has allowed us to extend the benefit of the doubt to the side throughout this friendly series given that, in the lead-up to Tokyo, Australia copped some similarly concerning score-lines. But they were able to perform when it mattered.

The big test, then, will come in January. Although we’ve somewhat dismissed the Asian Cup given its doubling-up as a World Cup qualifying path (which we don’t need to use given we’ve automatically qualified as hosts), it is still a competitive tournament, and this team will be playing for a trophy they haven’t held aloft in over a decade.

If they’re able to do it, it would arguably validate the bumpy lead-up. If he doesn’t, then other questions should, perhaps, be asked.

Once again, thank you for tuning into the ABC’s live-blog of Australia v USA. It’s been a joy bringing these two games to you and I hope we can do it again as the A-League Women’s season kicks off this Friday.

By Samantha L

Full-time: AUS 1 – 1 USA

That was a chaotic final five minutes.

Kyah Simon’s goal in the 88th minute cancels out Ashley Hatch’s fourth-minute opener.

There are some tiiiired legs out there. The humidity up in Newcastle seemed to sap both sides of energy towards the back end of the second half.

A draw is probably deserved: there certainly weren’t as many clear-cut chances for either side as there were in the first friendly on Saturday, but the play on both sides wasn’t of the same standard, either.

Overall, drawing 1-1 with the reigning World Cup champions isn’t too bad a result, though the performance itself may still concern some given this is the final big friendly the Matildas will play before the Asian Cup.

What did you think of the match? A deserved score-line?

By Samantha L

Horan has a goal pulled back for offside

They’re not giving up, these Americans. No wonder they’re ranked number one in the world.

The final whistle is moments away…

By Samantha L

Four minutes of time added on

They couldn’t get another and prove my prediction right… could they?

By Samantha L

GOAL AUSTRALIA!!!!!

It started with Wheeler: the tenacious midfielder won the ball after a risky sliding challenge on Ashley Sanchez, finding Catley who curled a cross in for Kerr, who had her back to goal.

Kerr controls off her chest and passes off for Kyah Simon, who puts her foot through it. The ball spins off Sauerbrunn and spins past Murphy and into the net.

Gustavsson has taken off down the sideline. Fireworks and flames are everywhere. The crowd has found their voice.

USA 1 – 1 AUS.

By Samantha L

Final substitutions

85′: Clare Wheeler comes on for Tameka Yallop to a big applause from her home crowd.

The Americans bring on veteran defenders Emily Sonnett and Becky Saurbrunn to take over from Andi Sullivan and Sofia Huerta.

By Samantha L

Steph Catley saves the day

80′: Tameka Yallop, stationed deep, miscontrols the ball off a deflected throw near half-way and has it pinched by Rose Lavelle. The USA are in behind Australia’s defenders as Weaver sprints onto the bouncing ball, but Steph Catley sprints back and makes a sensational sliding challenge to take the ball out of Weaver’s path.

It almost certainly could’ve been 2-0 to the visitors without that intervention.

By Samantha L

Who winning the game Australia all USA

-Sullivan.c

USA 1 – 0 AUS.

By Samantha L

Subs! Subs! Subs!

It’s the 70th minute and, finally, we’ve got subs.

Emily Gielnik replaces Hayley Raso while Alanna Kennedy comes on for Kyra Cooney-Cross.

Kennedy immediately moves into the right side of a back three with Nevin central and Catley on the left, with Carpenter pushing further forward. Tameka Yallop has moved into midfield.

There are subs for the USA, too: goal-scorer Hatch is replaced by Morgan Weaver, while Kristie Mewis comes on for Purce.

Let’s see if the Aussie subs can spark some joy and clean up this mess.

By Samantha L

20,495!

It’s another record crowd for a Matildas home game, beating the previous record of 16,829.

It’s also the second-highest ever crowd for a stand-alone Matildas game in history!

Great work, Newy!

By Samantha L

Transition, ahoy!

55′: Sam Kerr receives a pass on half-way and turns on a dime, sending a perfectly-weighted pass behind the line for a sprinting Raso to latch onto down the right wing.

Emily Fox puts in a brilliant sliding challenge to nick the ball away from Raso for a corner which, much like all the others tonight, comes to nothing for the Matildas.

By Samantha L

Observations

Interestingly, it’s not the Matildas’ defence that has copped the most criticism from fans on social media during the half-time break.

It’s the midfield.

Emily Van Egmond does not look comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder. She is capable, sure, but not comfortable, and certainly not threatening.

Gustavsson explained his decision after Saturday’s friendly as wanting a strong midfielder to go toe-to-toe with Lindsey Horan, but the USA veteran has arguably dominated the midfield across both games so far.

Similar with Kyra Cooney-Cross. She is both more dangerous for club and country when given license to move forward: to act as a box-to-box or attacking midfielder.

The only natural defensive midfielder Australia seems to have in the squad is Novocastrian Clare Wheeler, who you would expect will get the nod to come on this half to play in front of her home crowd.

We’ve dissected the centre-back problem for several weeks now, perhaps it’s time we take a closer look at the Number Six Conundrum?

By Samantha L

A brief glimpse for Kerr

A charging run by Hayley Raso down the right finds Kerr near the top of the box, who wiggles around Tierna Davidson and shoots… but it skews well wide of the far post.

Kerr looks in good spirits, though. She’s a player who thrives with others around her, so the more Australia can provide players to support her going forward, the better.

By Samantha L

No changes at the break

We’re back for the second half: the final 45 minutes that this Matildas team will get together against a top side before January’s Asian Cup.

Let’s see whether they can dig themselves out of the hole…

By Samantha L

Sam Kerr shows her frustration (Getty)

Half-time: USA 1 – 0 AUS

We’ve been here before, hey?

Just like Saturday’s friendly, the Matildas go into the break 1-0 behind after conceding early.

They haven’t created quite as many chances going forward as they did towards the back-end of Saturday’s first half, which is disappointing.

The closest Australia have come is Cooney-Cross’ shot that ricocheted off the post and was cleared away.

The USA have defended Australia’s corners brilliantly, and are playing some lethal passing football in transition: all things Gustavsson spoke to pre-match and which the Matildas haven’t addressed.

What did you think of the first half? What changes (if any) would you like to see made for Australia? Who could change the game for them?

By Samantha L

Almost…

44th minute: Lynn Williams beats Nevin down the left flank and sends a deadly low cross to the far post. It’s at the exact speed to be just out of reach of both goalkeeper and back-tracking defenders, but thankfully opposite winger Purce’s shot hits the side netting.

By Samantha L

Was Horan just dabbing her eyeliner to stop it running? 😳

-Natty

She may have been! A lot of players wear make-up during games. Marta is my favourite: remember that bright pink/purple/red lipstick at the 2019 Women’s World Cup?

Iconic.

By Samantha L

40th-minute action!

A good Matildas surge sees the ball flick up and hit Lavelle in her outstretched arm just on the corner of the box, but the referee waves it away.

Barely a minute later, Mary Fowler feeds Kyah Simon out on the left who delivers a lush cross for Sam Kerr in the box, but the Matildas captain heads over the crossbar.

By Samantha L

Ruh-roh for Raso

Freshly returned from a shoulder injury, Raso slides into the turf when wrestling with Emily Fox, but the American defender falls awkwardly onto Raso’s out-stretched arm.

Another pause in play as the winger is checked out. She’s walking back to half-way, so no alarm bells just yet.

By Samantha L

Horan almost makes it two for USA

34′: The midfielder ghosts in behind the back-line and is practically one-on-one with Williams but Nevin makes a crucial slide to nip the ball off the toe of the USA captain.

Nevin has been better this game. She’s delivered some nice cross-field passes and has even got further up the field in some moments. She’s got a belting left foot so it’d be good to see her use it more.

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