The U.S. women's national team beat Russia by a comfortable 4-0 score on Thursday night. That, of course, was to be expected. But which players improved their standing with the USWNT?
Here are the players who saw their stocks rise (and fall):
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Rose Lavelle: Up ↑
The 21-year-old Lavelle was the star of Thursday's match. It was partly because of moments like this, when she dazzled everyone with her excellent individual skill. But what made Lavelle so effective was the way she connected with the players around her. More than anyone on the field, she was able to pick out through-balls to spring a player into space. Her ability to read the game and quickly assess her best options is what makes her a standout player.
She started on the right wing, but she pushed into central role as Kelley O'Hara advanced up the flank from her right back spot. It worked well and gave the USWNT numbers in the midfield by turning their defensive 4-4-2 into something of a 3-4-1-2 in the attack. But Lavelle may be best as a dedicated No. 10 where she can stay under the strikers at all times.
She hasn't featured consistently for the USWNT under Ellis, but if the formation the USWNT used Thursday becomes an option going forward, O'Hara may be a player that should start regularly. It was O'Hara's comfort in pushing up and attacking from the right back spot that allowed the USWNT to bring more numbers into the midfield when they had the ball. And it was her boundless energy and pace that ensured she could track back and keep the USWNT back line together defensively too.
A player with O'Hara's versatility will be hard for Ellis to ignore if she insists on a tactical set up that allows the USWNT to be so aggressive in the attack. O'Hara can add something there, but she's also a very capable defender.
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Carli Lloyd: Down ↓
In a match that saw the USWNT take 33 shots and score four goals, Lloyd just didn't make enough of an impression. She slipped a great ball to Crystal Dunn for her one assist of the night, but Lloyd was started in a striker role to make more of an impact than she did. Ellis doesn't seem to know where Lloyd's best spot is – she tried her as the No. 10 during the SheBelieves Cup – but Lloyd's performance Thursday didn't help her case.
It's not exactly a surprise to see Lloyd have a quiet evening. As good as Lloyd can be, she's never been known for being consistent, particularly in low-stakes games like Thursday's friendly. But with the options Ellis has at striker and playmaker, along with the fact that Lloyd is 34, Ellis might want to give other players serious looks.
Megan Oyster: Up ↑
In some ways, it's difficult to take too much from Oyster's USWNT debut. After all, she came into the match in the 68th minute and Russia barely tested the USWNT back line, if at all. But Ellis has been in search of centerbacks who can help the USWNT stayed defensively organized and build out the back. That Oyster made her debut at all and got a (slightly nervy) first cap out of the way is a good thing.
There's no reason she can't build on her debut and work her way into the USWNT as an option. Ellis will probably make her judgements on Oyster from the team's training during camp rather than this match vs. Russia, but that Ellis have her minutes is a sign of confidence in the 24-year-old's abilities.