Lindsey Horan's USWNT showing vs. Portugal could deep-six concerns about Julie Ertz injury

This was the very first game in 2 months for the U.S. women's national team, and they will not play with one that matters before a second month from now.

Lindsey Horan's USWNT showing vs. Portugal could deep-six concerns about Julie Ertz injury

There was one crucial part of Thursday night's friendly, however, and it was obvious coach Vlatko Andonovski wanted to make certain it was handled before anyone touched the locker room. So he talked to midfielder Lindsey Horan immediately after the Americans finished a perfunctory 1-0 victory over Portugal.

"I informed her she had been a monster on the field," Andonovski stated afterward.

He's been in charge less than two years and hasn't yet handled the USWNT in a significant competition. So in spite of an 18-0-1 record to date, it seems a bit premature to label Andonovski a good trainer for the national team. But his zeal to guarantee Horan she had delivered in the defensive midfield role usually managed by Julie Ertz -- the No. 6, at football parlance -- suggested that he might be a fantastic coach to play at this level.

Andonovski praised Horan (photo below) for excelling in"aerial challenges, intercepting balls, controlling the game in the lower portion of the area." And she did all of that when demanded. It wasn't required all that often.

Portugal played a low block through most of the game, rarely possessing the ball, even less frequently advancing it beyond the halfway point. This isn't uncommon for those USWNT opponents locating themselves at a massive talent disadvantage, which is the vast majority of them. The part of the No. 6 is elevated in significance, though, in games against such teams as Sweden, the launching opponent July 21 in the Olympic Games.

Whether Horan will be in this situation against Sweden is uncertain. Ertz sprained the MCL in her right knee in her very first NWSL match a month ago for its Chicago Red Stars, and Andonovski has stated he expects her to be healthy in time for the Olympics.

What's certain, however, is that the USWNT has virtually irrational depth at each field position save this one. Tobin Heath, who began on the ideal side of front through the 2019 World Cup effort is out with an ankle injury. Christen Press filled that spot against Portugal. She owns 145 caps and 60 global goals. Carli Lloyd subbed on for striker Alex Morgan in the 73rd minute; Lloyd has scored more goals than all but five women at the game's background. Defender Tierna Davidson entered the match in the exact same time; she excelled in her 2019 World Cup begin and can play left back or in central defense.

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