COLUMBUS, Ohio — New coach. Same result.
Carli Lloyd scored twice, Christen Press added a goal and the United States held off Sweden 3-2 on Thursday night at Mapfre Stadium, giving Vlatko Andonovski a victory in his first match as head coach.
The U.S. is 19-1-3 in 2019 and has a 22-match unbeaten streak.
The U.S. dominated early in the friendly, as Lloyd took a pass in the sixth minute from Christen Press with a right-footed shot from the center of the box and put it past goalkeeper Hedviq Lindahl to the bottom right corner.
Press followed in the 28th minute, faking out a pair of defenders with fancy footwork and burying a ball from Lindsey Horan for her 50th goal in international competition. Press is just the 11th American to reach that milestone.
“We knew what we wanted to do, and I think we did a good job controlling the game defensively,” Andonovski said. “The only thing I thought we could do better, and we did it in the second half, is push the block a little bit higher from the middle to the high block. We were successful when we did that. Obviously, it will just take a little bit of time to adjust the timing, the angle and the approach to all the players.”
Three minutes later, Lloyd found the back of the net again with a right-footed shot just inside the box, off a chip pass from Tobin Heath.
Lloyd, who has 22 multi-goal games, has 120 international goals and leads the U.S. in scoring this year with 15.
“For me, it’s going out and trying to be better than I was the game before, help the team and implementing the philosophy that Vlatko wants,” Lloyd said. “Goals come when you are really not seeking goals. If you go out and give 100% effort, some good things usually happen.
“I’m really proud of the team. There was some fabulous stuff out there. There was also some stuff will need to work on. Overall it was a good game.”
But Sweden would not go quietly before a crowd of 20,903, with the No. 5 team in the world finally getting on the board in the 75th minute on Anna Anvegård’s right-foot shot from close range. Anvegård scored her second goal three minutes later when goaltender Alyssa Naeher played a ball high in the box and was caught out of position on the score, leaving the net open for a right-footed shot from the center of the box.
Lloyd was primed to complete a hat trick with a penalty kick in the 81st minute, but it sailed high.
The United States is ranked No. 1 in the world after winning its fourth World Cup this past summer in France, defeating Sweden in the group stage before taking out Spain, France, England and the Netherlands on its way to the championship.
Andonovski on Oct. 28 became the ninth U.S. coach after the retirement of Jill Ellis, whose 106 victories made her the winningest coach in U.S. women’s soccer history and the first international coach to win two Women’s World Cup titles.
A native of Macedonia, Andonovski played in Europe before an indoor soccer career in the United States. He coached in the National Women’s Soccer League for the past seven seasons, with FC Kansas City and Reign FC of Washington State.
Lloyd said she has already come to respect his coaching style.
“I think he’s simple and effective,” she said. “His training sessions are short, concise and to the point. You know the message. I think it’s the belief in players and the confidence that he has in players that you fed off of.
“I’ve heard so many good things about him from so many different players, and now I know why. It’s just an aura that he has about him. He’s calm and collected. He makes this team better.”
Andonovski certainly appeared calm after the win but admitted the first victory at the U.S. helm was “exciting,” even as he focuses on areas that need improvement
“I was excited for the team and they were excited for me,” he said. “We have to fix the two goals. People who know me know I’m not happy when I get scored on. We have to finish strong.”
The U.S. played without some of its most high-profile players, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.
Next up for the United States is Costa Rica on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The 8 p.m. match will be broadcast on ESPN2.