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Ellis talks Heath, Press, Williams, Sullivan and more

Jill Ellis and the USWNT will be hosting a second elite tournament this summer. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)
As promised, Jill Ellis has begun tinkering with the USWNT roster--and formation (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

As promised, Jill Ellis has begun tinkering with the USWNT roster–and formation (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN. — The United States women’s national team defeated 15th-ranked Switzerland 5-1 on Sunday in the second of two friendly wins against the European side in the past week. The victory in Minneapolis capped off an October camp that saw 10 new faces join the U.S. squad, as well as a formational shift to a 3-5-2 and some new roles for the entrenched veterans.

Here are some updates from the game in Minnesota.

Kealia Ohai earned both her first senior team cap and her first senior team goal on Sunday, scoring just 48 seconds into her debut. The goal broke the previous record of 49 seconds set just last Wednesday when debutante Lynn Williams tallied against the Swiss only moments after subbing in to the contest in Sandy, Utah. After the match, Ohai commented on her goal, breaking Williams’ record and her first U.S. camp:

  • “It was better than I had imagined. I was just so honored to get to be on the field at all. To score my first goal in my first cap was unbelievable. These girls have been so awesome and so supportive. It’s been the best day.”
  • “[Lynn Williams] said, ‘You can have this one because I won the Golden Boot for the NWSL.”
  • “Mentally, it’s so difficult because every single day you have to compete. Especially for a lot of us new girls, you have to compete just to dress. That’s what makes this team the best team in the world. Every single practice you’re competing for, literally, a jersey to play [in the next game]. I’ve improved just in the last week because you’re on edge. Every single day, I have to perform in order to play. It’s definitely been stressful, but I’ve grown already in the week that I’ve been here.”

Head coach Jill Ellis offered a combination of praise and caution for her veterans this camp. Here are her comments on Tobin Heath and Christen Press:

  • “She has [elevated her game]. What Tobin has to continue to stay loyal to is the effectiveness of her style…Your No. 1 function in a wide area is to get the ball central at some point. It’s making sure we don’t always get caught up in how it looks, but what’s the end result? That’s something we’ve focused on with Tobin. She has delivered in terms of recognizing it’s not always the form, it’s the function of what you do. She’s done very, very well…For me, as her coach, it’s constantly reminding her that if you’re 1 v. 3, maybe a combination is better than taking them on…When you’ve got a creative, stylish player, you want to continue to remind them it’s the output that becomes important. She has a lot of self-belief and, obviously, a lot of confidence.”
  • “I think Christen probably could have had a couple more that I know she’ll want back, but overall, she scored in both of our games and done very well, so I’m pleased.”

Ellis also had high praise for the youngsters in camp and took time to point out the performances of Andi Sullivan, Williams and Casey Short.

  • “Lynn Williams—she’s impressive. She’s got a lot to her game—attitude, effort and refinement. She’s impressed me with how well she’s done with her back to pressure.”
  • “Andi Sullivan has played like a veteran—superb in the midfield, composed, calm.”
  • “Casey Short, she’s a player who’s never played in a three-back before and here she is playing across the backline. She was solid defensively and [made] some good decisions.”
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