Morgan scores as U.S. picks up 1-0 win over Scotland

The U.S. won their final game of 2018 to finish off an unbeaten year

Mallory Pugh and Alex Morgan celebrate during the United States' 1-0 win over Scotland. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

The United States finished off 2018 with a 1-0 road win over Scotland, to complete an unbeaten calendar year. It’s the second straight 1-0 win for the U.S., after last week’s 1-0 win on the road in Portugal. Both Scotland and the United States have qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, so the meeting was a bit of a preview of the tournament as the two teams could meet on the field again in France next summer.

Pride forward Alex Morgan scored the game’s only goal, the 98th of her international career. Thorns defender Emily Sonnett started the play, finishing Spirit forward Mallory Pugh down the right sideline. Pugh crossed into the middle of the box, finding Morgan open for the right-footed volley finish.

The starting lineup featured ten NWSL players: Ashlyn Harris, Emily Sonnett, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. University of North Carolina defender Emily Fox started at left back as Dunn shifted into the midfield.

Utah Royals FC defender Rachel Corsie wore the captain’s armband for Scotland.

Danielle Colaprico, Adrianna Franch, Allie Long, Jessica McDonald, Megan Rapinoe and Andi Sullivan started the game as available subs for the United States. Alyssa Naeher, Merritt Mathias and Casey Short were not in the 18 for the game.

McDonald was the game’s first sub in the 68th minute. McDonald replaced Sonnett and went up top, sending Dunn to left back as Lloyd dropped into the midfield. Colaprico replaced Fox in the 76th minute. Long replaced Morgan in the 88th. Mewis came on for Lloyd in the final moments of the match.

The United States had a good chance to double the lead in the 63rd minute after Pugh was fouled in the box by Scotland defender Kirsty Smith. Lloyd took the penalty, but her shot rattled off the top of the crossbar.

The U.S. had a limited amount of chances in the game as Scotland sat back and forced the U.S. to find their way through a crowded offensive half of the field. One of the best U.S. chances came in the 53rd minute after a combination play between Lloyd, Morgan and Ertz, but Scotland goalkeeper Shannon Lynn made a kick save on Ertz’s deflected shot.

Lynn subbed in at halftime to replace Lee Alexander as Scotland swapped goalkeepers.

In the 76th minute, Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert and Lana Clelland combined on an impressive cut through the center of the U.S. midfield. Sauerbrunn cleared the effort out for a corner, and the U.S. also cleared that out of danger as well.

Clelland again was in the attack in the 80th minute, sending a hard left-footed shot that Harris pushed out for a corner kick. Harris punched away a dangerous in-swinging corner on the follow-up as Scotland continued to press for the equalizing goal.

Cuthbert continued her dangerous second half as well, drawing a foul in the 91st minute, but the free kick was blocked by the United States wall.

Corsie was named Scotland’s Player of the Match.

“I don’t feel like this was our strongest performance by any means, but I do have to give credit to Scotland. I feel like they played very well. Pretty physical team. First half, there was a lot of times where they dominated play. It’s a team we could very well see in the World Cup,” Morgan said on FS1 after the game.