England 2-1 USWNT: Hemps audition for a No.9, Sophia Smith and players stand together

The European champions defeated the world champions at Wembley Stadium on Friday night, with England beating the USA 2-1 in front of 76,893 fans.

Lauren Hemp, playing an unfamiliar role as a center forward for England, opened the scoring with a simple tap-in before Georgia Stanway gained possession as England tried to play from behind and Sophia Smith leveled.

But Stanway atoned for their mistake with the winner from the penalty spot after VAR found Hailie Mace fouled Lucy Bronze. VAR also played a big role as the game progressed, disallowing a second USA equalizer for offside and then reversing a USA penalty that had been awarded for handball.

Charlotte Harpur, Steph Yang, Meg Linehan and Michael Cox discuss the game’s key talking points.

England’s new No 9 auditions begin

The big question for England was who would start up front as Ellen White was out, Alessia Russo was injured, Bethany England dropped out of the squad and Rachel Daly continued at left-back. It was predictable that Wiegman would start Lauren Hemp, Beth Mead and Chloe Kelly, but any of the three could have been used through the middle. As Wiegman admitted in a pre-game interview, all three had experience in the role.

It was Hemp who was presented with the No. 9 jersey and Hemp who started at the front. And maybe that was a little threatening for her. We know Wiegman loves playing in as stable a XI as possible, we know Kelly knocked on the door of the front XI and we know Mead’s England form makes them inescapable. And that’s why it’s possible Weigman played that way because she intends to field Kelly at left flank. If Russo returns, maybe Hemp will make room.

But that was a positive performance. From the start it was clear that she understood the pressing requirements of this position and sprinted to the side to cut passing angles.

https://theathletic.com/3669096/2022/10/07/england-2-1-uswnt/?source=rss England 2-1 USWNT: Hemps audition for a No.9, Sophia Smith and players stand together

John Verrall

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