The U.S. women's national team lost to England on Saturday in a tight 1-0 affair that showed there is still work for the Americans to do. In truth, the USWNT played much better than they did against Germany in the opening match of the SheBelieves Cup – but the problem was England played a lot better than Germany did.
Regardless of the result, the USWNT did have at least three bright spots on Saturday in the form of these players:
This content is subject to copyright.AFP/Getty Images
Would it be too sneaky to list Lavelle three times? She was far and away the most impressive USWNT player on the day, which is pretty incredible considering that Sunday's match was her debut for the USWNT. On top of that, the 21-year-old was asked to play as a left winger, even though she has made a name for herself at the University of Wisconsin as a No. 10.
It's clear that Lavelle is up to whatever USWNT coach Jill Ellis throws at her. She was fearless and ambitious, constantly cutting her way through England's defense and creating space that didn't seem to exist. In some ways, she was reminiscent of the player whose role she took, Tobin Heath, due to her ability to weave her way through traffic with the ball. She had a great volley attempt in the 19th minute that forced a nice save out of goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
Simply put, Lavelle lived up to the hype around her and then some. She will be a player to watch going forward.
Of course, Lavelle wasn't the only youngster asked to play a different role. Pugh, the 18-year-old who broke into the USWNT as a winger, was put in a striker role next to Alex Morgan in a two-front. It was an interesting choice from Ellis since she does have other good forward options, but Pugh was dynamic and threatening throughout the day, and looked good in a partnership with Morgan. Her hold-up play was also a strong positive.
It could be that Ellis is looking to see if Pugh can be a utility player in the attack, and if that's the case, she got her answer. Pugh looks comfortable and confident from both wide roles and central ones, and it wouldn't be difficult to imagine the 18-year-old playing as a striker more in the future.
Gary RohmanGary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports
If there's a reason to put a player like Pugh up top, it may come down to having too much depth on the wings – and Dunn proved she can easily be the USWNT's go-to starter on the right wing. She did well taking on defenders and running to the end line or cutting inside and dishing the ball off centrally.
Dunn, like Lavelle and Pugh, is good enough that she could probably play elsewhere on the pitch too. But if Saturday was any indication, the right wing suits her just fine.