Led by a goal and an assist from 2016 Olympian Christen Press, the United States women’s soccer team closed out its 2016 season Sunday evening with a 5-0 victory over Romania at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The victory gave the Americans an undefeated season, as they ended with 22 victories and three draws against no losses. Because the quarterfinal match against Sweden at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was decided on penalty kicks, it officially is counted as a tie. The Americans outscored their opponents by a 92-10 margin for the season, and Sunday’s shutout by Alyssa Naeher was the 18th of the year from a U.S. goalkeeper.
After an 8-1 rout Thursday in the first-ever meeting of the two teams, Romania chose to minimize damage Sunday by bunkering in with six defenders on the back line. The tactic proved effective. Despite possessing the ball three minutes to every one for Romania, the Americans generated only two first-half goals, one with the opponents’ help. Crystal Dunn’s cross from the right byline in the 20th minute played off the chest of Teodora Meluta past goalkeeper Roxana Oprea for an own goal. It was the second consecutive goal the Romanians had put into their own net after giving the U.S. a freebie at the end of Thursday’s contest.
Using her lightning speed to keep pressure on the Romanian back line throughout the half, Dunn finally found the net in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Three-time Olympian Tobin Heath began the sequence near the half line on the left side, finding Press in the center of the attacking half with a diagonal ball. Press quickly sent it along to Dunn, who unleashed a laser shot from the right wing past a helpless Oprea, giving the U.S. a 2-0 halftime lead. Both Press and Dunn appeared in all 25 games the United States played in 2016.
As the match unfolded in the second half, the U.S. became more adept at finding the gaps in the crowded Romanian defending third. After scoring her fourth career hat trick Thursday night, Press picked up her 41st international goal in the 55th minute when Heath played a return pass to Press at the penalty spot for a one-time volley, making the score 3-0. Morgan Brian converted a penalty kick in the 88th minute, and Samantha Mewis put the finishing touch on the scoring line by heading in a pass from Kelley O’Hara in stoppage time for the 5-0 result.
The victory also keeps Team USA undefeated in 11 matches at StubHub Center, where the Americans have scored 42 goals while allowing only three.