Spain blanks US; Americans hadn’t lost 2 straight since ’17
PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — Laia Codina and Esther González both scored for Spain in a 2-0 victory Tuesday over the U.S. women’s national team, which lost a second straight game for the first time in more than five years.
Codina scored in the 39th minute. It was the first goal off a set piece that the United States had conceded since last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Gonzalez added a goal in the 72nd.
The United States hadn’t lost two straight since the March 2017 SheBelieves Cup, when the team lost consecutive games to England and France.
“It’s really disappointing, there’s no question about it,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “We have a winning mentality and when we don’t win, it hurts. It hurt all off us. It is a tough moment for us as a team.”
Both teams are preparing for next summer’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The United States, the world’s top-ranked team, has won the last two World Cups.
Both teams also have been rocked by scandals, with Spain missing some of their best players because of it.
The U.S. players are reeling following the release last week of a report on misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League. A year-long investigation led by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates found “systemic” abuse and misconduct in women’s soccer.
U.S. captain Becky Sauerbrunn said players were “horrified” by the revelations. Five of 10 coaches in the NWSL last season were either fired or stepped down amid allegations of inappropriate behavior. Yates also offered recommendations for change going forward.
Meanwhile, a group of Spanish national team players recently called on the federation to professionalize the women’s team. But the federation responded by saying the players asked for coach Jorge Vilda to be fired, which the players denied.
The federation made matters worse by asking the players to apologize and ask for forgiveness. In announcing his team for a pair of friendlies this month, including Tuesday’s game, Vilda excluded the players who called for change, among them Barcelona’s Patricia Guijarro and goalkeeper Sandra Panos, and Manchester United’s Lucia Garcia. Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas were not included because of injury.
The United States was coming off a 2-1 loss to England on Friday in front of a sold-out crowd at Wembley Stadium. The Americans have conceded goals in their past three matches, after allowing just two total goals in its previous 19 games.
The United States also was missing key players because of injuries, among them Alex Morgan, Sam Mewis and Catarina Macario. Mallory Pugh was not with the team because of a family commitment.
“We knew that these were going to be two tough games,” Andonovski said. “That’s why we came here, to learn more about us before the World Cup, and get prepared better before the World Cup.”
Spain was coming off a 1-1 draw with Sweden in Cordoba.
The United States won the previous three meetings against Spain.
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