USWNT falls to France, snapping 28-game unbeaten streak
The loss is the United States' first since the summer of 2017
Kadidiatou Diani scored twice for France in a 3-1  win over the United States on Saturday night. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/
Kadidiatou Diani scored twice for France in a 3-1 win over the United States on Saturday night. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/

In the end, it just wasn’t the United States’ night as they fell 3-1 to France to open the 2019 schedule. The loss snapped a 28-game winning streak that began after their loss to Australia in the summer of 2017. The United States had gone 25-0-3 during that streak before Saturday night’s loss.

In a preview of a possible quarterfinal match at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, No. 3 ranked France and the No. 1 ranked United States met in Le Havre in France in front of a sold-out crowd.

France largely controlled the match from start to finish. It was the first friendly of the year for both national teams, but France’s players are well into their club seasons, while the U.S. players are in the NWSL offseason.

France got off to a flying start and scored the game’s opening goal in the 9th minute. Delphine Cascarino torched down the right sideline and around Emily Fox, starting at left back. Cascarino’s pass went into the center of the box, and as Morgan Brian slipped, Kadidiatou Diani turned and slotted far post and past Alyssa Naeher to give France the early lead.

The match marked the third USWNT cap for Fox, the only college and non-NWSL player on the roster for this January camp and friendlies.

The French crowd was loud and boisterous throughout the match, a glimpse of the atmosphere that we can expect for the World Cup which begins in June. Stade Océane in Le Havre is one of nine venues for the tournament, and the United States will next play there on June 20 in their group stage finale vs. Sweden.

Diani scored her second goal of the night in the 57th minute, a brilliant floating chip over Naeher from the right wing. Diani ran onto a pass over the backline, and hit it first-time for the goal.

In between the two strikes, France had several other chances to add to their lead. They tried a replay of their opening goal in the 27th minute, but this time Brian was able to clear the ball out of danger after Diani flicked it towards Gaëtane Thiney.

Marion Torrent found the head of Eugénie Le Sommer with a cross in the 30th minute, but Naeher stopped the shot and there were no French players close enough to pick up the rebound.

Naeher came up with another big save in the 39th minute, pushing a point-blank shot from Diani out of bounds.

The United States had one of their best offensive chances in the 42nd minute after a weak clearance in the box from France, but goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi was able to catch Lindsey Horan‘s header.

Le Sommer had another chance in the 51st minute after former Portland Thorns FC midfielder Amandine Henry stole a ball in the midfield and passed to Le Sommer. But the French forward, who scored vs. the U.S. the last time these teams met in 2018, saw her hard shot go wide.

In the 53rd minute, Tierna Davidson subbed in for Fox and took over as the left back. The game was Davidson’s first since being drafted last week with the No. 1 overall pick by the Chicago Red Stars after leaving Stanford early to join the league. It was also her first competitive game since injuring her ankle last fall while in college.

Crystal Dunn, who usually starts at left back for the USWNT, started in the midfield on the night. She slipped back into the right back spot after Carli Lloyd subbed in for Emily Sonnett in the 70th minute.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto scored the home side’s third goal in the 78th minute to seal the win.

Mallory Pugh scored a consolation goal for the U.S. in second half stoppage time to break the shutout.

The U.S. will next be in action on Tuesday when they face Spain.

Saturday’s starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Emily Sonnett, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Fox, Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan and Christen Press. The available subs: Samantha Mewis, Carli Lloyd, Tierna Davidson, Rose Lavelle, Jessica McDonald, Adrianna Franch, Danielle Colaprico, McCall Zerboni and Andi Sullivan.

U.S. Soccer tweeted that Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Casey Short and Julie Ertz missed the game due to minor injuries and said that Kelley O’Hara was not yet match fit following offseason ankle injury.

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