US women’s team cruises before heading to France

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HARRISON, New Jersey — Fans spelled out the message at the end of the national anthem, unfurling a huge banner behind the goal on the south end of Red Bull Arena: “ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR FOUR” it read, with a large gold star in the center.

Ten prep games for the U.S. women’s soccer team this year ended with an unimpressive 3-0 win over Mexico in a send-off match on Sunday. The Americans travel to England on Monday and will work out at Tottenham’s training grounds before heading to France on June 7, four days before starting their World Cup title defense against Thailand.

“We want to win everything. We want to win every game,” said midfielder Megan Rapinoe, her spiky hair dyed pink. “It’s going to be extremely tough. It’s going to be a grueling tournament. But, yeah, like I said, the expectation for us is always to win.”

Seeking their fourth World Cup title, the top-ranked Americans have seven wins and two draws since a Jan. 19 loss at France, outscoring opponents 28-8. That defeat ended a 28-game unbeaten streak, and the current run has been largely against lesser opponents. After playing No. 34 Thailand, the U.S. closes group play against 39th-ranked Chile and No. 9 Sweden.

“Pressure is starting to build, and I think for us it’s just getting more real and that’s why we’re excited to go over to London because we’re going to be away from all the distractions and it’s just going to be us and the tournament ahead,” star forward Alex Morgan said.

In the final tuneup, Tobin Heath was gifted her 30th international goal in the 11th minute when she ran onto a pass from goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago to defender Rebeca Bernal.

After the U.S. misfired in front of the net on a hot afternoon that displayed failings more than facets, the Americans pulled away on the strength of second-half substitutes. Mallory Pugh knocked in a short cross from New Jersey native Carli Lloyd in the 76th minute for her 16th goal. Twelve minutes later, Christen Press took a pass from Julie Ertz, spun and faked a defender to score from the top of the penalty area for her 48th.

The U.S. heads to Europe with four straight shutouts. Alyssa Naeher was in goal for all but 45 minutes.

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