USA extends home unbeaten steak with win versus China

USA midfielder Carli Lloyd (10) and midfielder Morgan Brian (7) celebrate following Lloyd's first goal vs. China.  

Christopher Hanewinckel/Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

SAN DIEGO —

Following a controversial four days, the United States women’s national team returned to action Thursday in triumphant fashion with a 3-0 victory over China at Qualcomm Stadium pushing their home unbeaten streak to 82 games.  

A two-goal 10-minute spurt early in the first half by Carli Lloyd, who narrowly missed a third in that span, earned her player-of-the-match honors. The win was the second in a week against China under two different head coaches following the surprise firing of head coach Tom Sermanni on Sunday after their 2-0 win against this same Chinese squad.

Jill Ellis, a potential candidate for Sermanni’s old job, was in charge of the squad on Thursday night. It is her second stint as interim head coach — she was also the interim at the end of 2012 and led the team to a 5-0-2 record before Sermanni came aboard. She was a contender for the top spot back then as well, but took herself out of the running.

USA came out attacking in Thursday’s matchup, putting pressure on China from the first minute. They finally broke through in the 20th when a passing sequence that started with a long ball to Sydney Leroux led to a cross to Lauren Holiday. She passed it back to Lloyd who drove it low from 12 yards out.

New Jersey-born Lloyd became the ninth player in women’s national team history to score 50 goals after doubling the lead just three minutes later when she took control of a bouncing ball outside the 18-yard-box and powered a one-time shot past Chinese goalkeeper Zhan Yue

A hat trick was within reach for Lloyd just minutes later, but her headed effort went just wide. In that play, she made contact with Zhang Rui and got a bloody nose as a result. The injury just added to her legacy on the night, as she returned to action shortly afterwards.

Although not the same caliber team that was once a powerhouse on the international stage, the young Chinese squad put up a challenge in the first half, forcing three saves — including a diving stop in the first half — from Hope Solo in her 150th career game for the national squad.

WORLD DERBIES

The same effort could not be replicated in the second half as the US women dominated, adding a Leroux goal in the first minute after the break and constantly attacking before the final whistle to continue its 82-game unbeaten run on home soil.

This is the final domestic friendly before the majority of the US players begin the second National Women’s Soccer League season. The Women’s World Cup qualifying takes place in Mexico in October, but they could reunite for up to six more friendlies before then.