The U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) returned to action for the first time after a disappointing FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign and were in fine form as they thrashed their South African counterparts 3-0 on Friday morning in Cincinnati.
The match served as a farewell to Julie Ertz, the longtime defensive player, who started and played 35 minutes in the final match of her storied career.
The old guard was present for her swan song, which also marked the first game for interim head coach Twila Kilogre as the USWNT look ahead to the Olympic Games in Paris in 10 months.
There was still room for a debut for defender M.A. Vignola, as well as some minutes for those who did not make it to the World Cup roster.
CBSsports reports that the USWNT used the opportunity to prove that while all eyes are on the future, the current crop still has plenty of quality against a South Africa team that is well and truly on the rise. It allowed the four-time World Cup winners to put on a vintage performance that was sorely missing over the summer.
Lynn Williams netted in the 32nd and 41st minutes either side of a 34th-minute effort by Trinity Rodman at Cincinnati’s TQP Stadium to give the US women a comfortable victory.
The friendly was the USA’s first game since they were dumped out of the World Cup in the last 16 by Sweden in August.
The World Cup flop led to the resignation of coach Vlatko Andonovski, leaving Twila Kilgore in charge for Thursday’s game in Ohio.
There was little sign of a World Cup hangover by the hosts, however, with the home team quickly on the front foot against South Africa, who reached the last 16 at the World Cup but lost to the Netherlands.
Williams’ opening goal came from a corner on the left, with the Gotham FC forward heading in from close range to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Rodman doubled the American lead, coolly tucking away a low finish after a fine run and cross by Alex Morgan down the left.
Williams completed the scoring on 41 minutes, tapping in from a few yards out after South Africa failed to deal with another American setpiece.