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The Week In Women’s Football: USA downs South Africa; Australia name Rio Olympics squad

This week we look at the U.S. versus South Africa friendly in Chicago - both sides are bound for the Rio Olympics - and present the final Olympic Roster for Australia's Matildas.

U.S. Defeats South Africa 1-0 in Pre-Olympic Friendly

The U.S. Women's National Team defeated South Africa 1-0 on July 9 at Soldier Field in Chicago in front of 19,272 fans. Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit) scored the only goal in the 35th minute on an assist by Mallory Pugh, who will attend UCLA in the fall as a freshman. The match was the penultimate friendly for the Americans ahead of the Rio Olympics, which South Africa is also participating in. The U.S. had an 18-4 advantage in shots (6-2 on shots-on-goal) but the Banyana Banyana (The Girls, The Girls) played well throughout the game and their well-structured defense stymied the U.S. The South Africans also had some athleticism and skill in midfield and attack, but need to be more patient and creative in their attacking buildup play. The South Africans, ranked 54th in the world in FIFA's latest rankings of national teams, has a tough group next month in Rio with host Brazil, China and Sweden, but if they play like they did against the top ranked Americans, they will test their opponents and make them work for their points. In their first Olympic Games in London in 2012, the South Africans lost to Sweden 4-1--with a tremendous 45 yard goal by long-time player Portia Modise, who had a tryout in 2003 with Arsenal but visa issues prevented her from signing and she is now a federation coach at home—Canada (3-0) and a scoreless draw with Japan, which Japanese head coach had controversially planned for—encouraging his side to limit their forward attacks--as it proved an easier route to the final by finishing second to Sweden.

The U.S. improved its mark to 13-1-0 for 2016, with a 3-3 tie against Japan earlier this month their only dropped points. In their other 13 matches, the Americans have allowed only one goal. Goalkeeper Hope Solo earned her 100th career shutout for the national team, the first player ever to achieve that threshold. She has 197 caps, the all-time leader in world and U.S. history, and 150 total wins. 1999 World Cup Winning Goalkeeper Briana Scurry earned 173 caps from 1994-2008. It is expected by many followers that the Olympics will be Solo's last major international tournament. At 35 years of age at the end of the month, she could continue for some years to come as she is still widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the women's game. However, she has blocked the way for the development of talented backups Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris, who have less experience but also bring much less drama and turmoil than the always explosive Solo. Solo was sent home from the 2007 Women's World Cup in China after negative comments against then head coach Greg Ryan and Scurry, who replaced Solo as starter for the semifinal when the Americans were destroyed by Brazil (4-0). She has had numerous off-field problems and can be a very polarizing figure; her absence after the Olympics could provide the opportunity for the nationals to do a cultural reset with a number of new, younger players entering the national team fray. Carli Lloyd returned from an MLC strain she obtained with the Houston Dash on April 23 and started the second half. Megan Rapinoe was back with the team after ACL surgery in December but did not play. The U.S. will face New Zealand, France and Colombia in their first round group in Rio, beginning on August 3 at Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, site of the Americans' famous 1-0 defeat of England in the 1950 Men's World Cup. The U.S. is 11-1-1 (W-T-L) all-time versus New Zealand, 16-2-1 versus France and 5-0-0 versus Colombia. Head Coach Jill Ellis is expected to name her final 18 and 4 alternates within the next week.

Match:U.S. Women's National Team vs. South Africa

USA: 1 (Crystal Dunn 35')
South Africa: 0

Date: July 9, 2016

Competition: International Friendly

Venue: Soldier Field; Chicago, Illinois

Attendance: 19,272


USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O'Hara (9-Heather O'Reilly, 83), 8-Julie Johnston (6-Whitney Engen, 81), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 23-Allie Long, 12-Christen Press, 20-Lindsey Horan (10-Carli Lloyd, 46); 16-Crystal Dunn, 13-Alex Morgan (11-Ali Krieger, 68), 2-Mallory Pugh (3-Samantha Mewis, 87)
Subs not used: 21-Alyssa Naeher, 22-Emily Sonnett
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

RSA: 1-Roxanne Barker; 15-Refiloe Jane, 4-Noko Matlou, 5-Janine Van Wyk (capt.), 3-Nothando Vilakazi (19-Bambanani Mbane, 87); 20-Stephanie Malherbe, 21-Robyn Moodaly (18-Nompumelelo Nyandeni, 46), 2- Lebohang Ramalepe (17-Leandra Smeda, 56), 12-Jermaine Seoposenwe (11-Chrestinah Kgatlana, 80); 8-Linda Mothlalo (9-Amanda Dlamini, 61), 13-Octovia Nogwanya (14-Sanah Mollo, 24)
Subs not used: 16-Andile Dlamini, 23-Kaylin Swart, 6-Mamello Makhabane, 7-Nomathemba Ntsibande, 10-Silindile Ngubane, 22-Lebogang Mabatle
Head Coach: Vera Pauw

Stats Summary: USA / RSA

Shots: 18 / 4

Shots on Goal: 6 / 2

Saves: 2 / 4

Corner Kicks: 10 / 2

Fouls: 11 / 10

Offside: 2 / 2

For South Africa, most of their squad was home-based, with the exception of five players who were either raised in the U.S. or now play there at the collegiate level. Starting goalkeeper Roxanne Barker moved to California with her family when she was eight and played through college (Pepperdine University) in the state. She played briefly for the Portland Thorns in 2013 after being drafted by the side. After stints playing in South Africa and Iceland, she just recently joined Heerenveen in the Netherlands. Four others on the South African side play collegiately in the U.S.:

Kaylin Swart (Menlo College in California)
Stephanie Malherbe (Texas A&M), who was born and raised in California of South African parents
Robyn Moodaly (Univ. of Northwestern Ohio)
Jermaine Seoposenwe (Samford University in Alabama)
Menlo College and the Universtiy of Northwestern Ohio are NAIA (smaller schools who typically are more liberal in recruiting outside the U.S. than NCAA affiliated schools.)

Seoposenwe scored five goals in six African Olympic Games qualifiers. The side defeated Gabon 8-2 on aggregate (3-2 away and 5-0 a home) and then Kenya 2-0 on aggregate (two 1-0 wins) and surprised 2011 World Cup qualifiers Equatorial Guinea 1-0 on aggregate (0-0 away and 1-0 away on a Seoposenwe winner).

The South African roster for the trip to the U.S. was as follows:

South Africa Women's National Team Roster by Position:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Roxanne Barker (SC Heerenveen), Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies), Kaylin Swart (Menlo College)

DEFENDERS (8): Janine Van Wyke (JvW FC), Lebohang Ramalepe (Maindis FC), Nothando Vilakazi (Palace Super Falcons FC), Nomathemba Ntsibande (Springs Home Sweepers), Bambanani Mbane (Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies), Noko Matlou (Maindis FC), Lebogang Mabatle (Tuks), Lerato Kgasago (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Nompumelelo Nyandeni (JvW FC), Refiloe Jane (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies), Amanda Dlamini (JvW FC), Sanah Mollo (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies), Stephanie Malherbe (Texas A&M), Linda Mothlalo (JvW FC), Leandra Smeda (Univ. of West Cape Ladies), Mamello Makhabane (JvW FC), Robyn Moodaly (Univ. of Northwestern Ohio)

FORWARDS (5): Jermaine Seoposenwe (Samford Univ.), Thembi Kgatlana (Univ. of West Cape Ladies), Silindile Ngubane (Durban Ladies FC), Chantelle Essau (Palace Super Falcons FC), Shiwe Nogwanya (Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies)

Captain and central defender Janine Van Wick started a youth academy in 2013 and then developed a premier team (JvW FC) as an adjunct, which now plays in the South African league. Van Wick and four other South African national team members on the tour play with her club side. The South African Football Association (SAFA) Sasol League, which was launched in February 2009 as a provincial women's league, consists of 144 clubs nationwide with each province being represented by 16 clubs. Clubs play on a home and away basis within their province. The Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu Natal clubs are divided into two streams of 8 teams each because of the vast travelling distances between areas; the other six provinces play as 16-team provincial leagues. The provincial winners advance to a National Championship every season.

Head Coach Vera Pauw, a native of the Netherlands, will name her final squad for the Olympics sometime after the match.

Australia names final roster for 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Head coach Alen Stajcic, who won a W-League title directing Sydney FC in 2010-11, named his Olympic Games roster this week, including six current and six former NWSL players. The former NWSL players are Emily Van Egmond, Katrina Gorry, Claire Polkinghorne, Caitlin Foord, Lisa De Vanna and Michelle Heyman. In addition, Tameka Butt played in the WPSL Elite in 2012 with the Boston Breakers, while Swedish-based Chloe Logarzo played with the Colorado Pride in the defunct W-League in 2014. Two current NWSL players -- Ellie Brush (Houston) and Hayley Raso (Portland) -- did not make the Australia 18. Two of his squad currently play in Germany.

Stajcic said about his Rio side: “Probably for the first time in this team's history we are leaving out players that are in good form who could genuinely play and start in this side. We've got to a point where there is a strong amount of depth in the team meaning good players miss out." One reflection of that depth is that defender Ellie Carpenter of Western Sydney Wanderers is only 16 years old.

Australia Olympic Games Roster

GOALKEEPERS: Lydia Williams (Houston Dash), Mackenzie Arnold (Perth Glory).
DEFENDERS: Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Laura Alleway (Orlando Pride), Alanna Kennedy (WNY Flash), Stephanie Catley (Orlando Pride), Ellie Carpenter (Western Sydney Wanderers)
MIDFIELDERS: Elise Kellond-Knight (Potsdam Turbine, GER), Emily van Egmond (FFC Frankfurt, GER), Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar), Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar), Caitlin Foord (Perth Glory), Chloe Logarzo (Eskilstuna United, SWE)

FORWARDS: Lisa De Vanna (Melbourne City), Michelle Heyman (Canberra United), Kyah Simon (Boston Breakers), Samantha Kerr (Sky Blue FC), Larissa Crummer (Melbourne City).

The alternatives are: Caitlin Cooper (D-Western Sydney Wanderers), Casey Dumont (GK-Sydney FC), Aivi Luik (M-Notts County), Emily Gielnik (F—Brisbane Roar). Gielnik played for Liverpool in 2012.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

Tim Grainey
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