After a tight first half where the USA struggled to gain control, it started the second half quickly and never looked back. NWSL MVP Lynn Williams scored 49 seconds into the second half and her first international appearance to start the scoring for the Americans.
Tobin Heath added the second goal in the 61st minute after a fine assist from Crystal Dunn. Christen Press made it three in the 69th minute after a point-blank shot and Samantha Mewis scored the fourth in the 76th minute on a header from a Press cross.
In the first match of a new cycle for the USWNT, here are five things we learned:
1. Lynn Williams is the real deal.
The 23-year old NWSL MVP had the most hype out of head coach Jill Ellis’ 11 uncapped call-ups, and Williams delivered in style. Her pace was evident on the opening goal as she capitalized on a mistake in the Swiss backline, and she became the 20th player to score on her international debut. She also had the hockey assist on Press’ goal and was impressive throughout the second half. There’s a strong chance that Williams becomes the next revelation for the Americans and scores important goals for years to come.
2. Alyssa Naeher could be the goalkeeper of the ‘19 cycle.
In the absence of Hope Solo, who probably is the greatest female goalkeeper of all time, the United States must find a replacement temporarily and eventually long-term as Solo is 35. Naeher already boasts an impressive resume in line with any elite goalkeeper, including NWSL Goalkeeper of the year in 2014. She has been unlucky to play at the same time as Solo, but Solo’s dramatics and age could force Naeher into the spotlight. Naeher will be 31 at the 2019 World Cup while Solo will be 38. Naeher had a fantastic save in the 30th minute, and it might not be a stretch to suggest that fans are watching their next star between the posts right now .
3. The inexperienced Americans looked ... inexperienced.
Nobody had a terrible, or even bad game, for the Americans, but the slow first half was a sign of the Americans adapting to the international game. The three goals outside of Williams’ all were scored and assisted by USWNT veterans, and the young players were significantly less dangerous. While the youth was mostly deployed in the defense and midfield, they will be a focus point on Sunday to improve their performance.
4. Crystal Dunn continues her strong 2016.
Despite being just 24, Crystal Dunn has 42 caps to her name and 16 goals. Considered a potential breakout star before the Summer Olympics in Rio, she now must be regarded as a key component of the attack. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, the second goal was all her doing with an incisive run inside and a pretty through ball to Tobin Heath. The USA has a wealth of attacking options, but Dunn’s sizzling 2016 has probably earned her a spot as a wide forward for at least the next year.
5. The USA tried out a new formation.
Instead of its usual variant of a 4-4-2, head coach Jill Ellis opted for a three-woman backline in a 3-5-2. Midfielder Allie Long dropped in to play as a center back between Becky Sauerbrunn and Emily Sonnet and the three generally looked composed throughout the match. Its unlikely the USA would roll out the slightly orthdox formation (at least in the women’s game) in an important match, but it represents an alternate option when Ellis wants to stack the midfield. The strength of outside backs Kelly O’Hara and Ali Krieger would allow Ellis to deploy them as wingbacks in a 3-5-2, but Ellis needs to find a third center back to join stalwarts Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn. Maybe Long or Sonnet will be that player in an interesting tactical development over the next few matches.
The USA is back in action on Sunday, when it faces Switzerland again in Minneapolis, Minn. at U.S. Bank Stadium.