Morgan, Pugh lead U.S. to 5-3 win over Australia
The USWNT will next face Belgium on Sunday night
Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan celebrates her 100th goal for the U.S. women's national team. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/
Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan celebrates her 100th goal for the U.S. women's national team. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/

Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan scored the 100th goal of her international career on Thursday night as the United States beat Australia 5-3 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park  in Commerce City, Colorado. Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh scored a brace in front of her hometown fans.

Both the U.S. and Australia have qualified for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, making Thursday’s game a key test and a potential preview of a knockout round match in the tournament.

Morgan is the seventh player in USWNT history to hit the 100-goal milestone. Her goal came in the 14th minute and was the product of a strong individual effort. Courage defender Crystal Dunn sent a ball forward on the left sideline. Morgan battled with Dash defender Clare Polkinghorne for the ball and won it. She then dribbled towards the top of box, sending her Pride teammate Alanna Kennedy the wrong way before finishing it with her right foot.

Australia’s Lisa De Vanna evened the score in the 29th minute. Red Stars forward Sam Kerr found Thorns forward Caitlin Foord open at midfield and dribbling towards goal. Foord picked out De Vanna, wide open on the right sideline. Thorns defender Emily Sonnett tried to recover, but De Vanna was able to get her shot off before Sonnett arrived, sending it over Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to make it 1-1.

Both teams had chances to add to the scoreline, but it stayed 1-1 into halftime.

In the 33rd minute, Thorns defender Ellie Carpenter kept the United States from scoring when she cleared a loose ball off the line. Then in the 34th minute, Reign FC goalkeeper Lydia Williams came up with a big save for Australia when she tipped a long-distance shot from Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan over the bar in the 34th minute. Kerr had a dangerous chance from the top of the penalty area in the 39th minute, but Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper recovered to block Kerr’s shot and send it out of bounds.

But the second half would see plenty of goals. Australia took the lead in the 48th minute. Kerr picked out Foord with a pass in the final third. Foord spun around to get by Courage midfielder Sam Mewis, and then sent a right-footed shot through traffic and past Naeher.

Thorns midfielder Tobin Heath equalized with a header goal in the 53rd minute on an assist from Sonnett.

Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe put the U.S. ahead 3-2 in the 61st minute. Mewis served a ball in from the right wing and Australia attempted to clear the ball, but Rapinoe ran it down. Rapinoe turned and shot to give the U.S. the lead.

Spirit forward Mallory Pugh, playing in front of her home crowd, subbed on in the 66th minute and scored on her first touch of the game less than a minute later to make it 4-2.

Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press looked to have the fifth goal of the night for the U.S. in the 73rd minute, but Williams came up with the save.

In the 81st minute, Kerr scored her first-ever goal vs. the United States, and the 31st of her international career. Thorns forward Hayley Raso served a ball into the box and Kerr rose up to head it in for Australia’s third goal of the game.

The U.S. scored to make it 5-3 in the dying moments of the match. Naeher sent a long service over the top to Pugh, who ran it down and knocked it over Williams to seal the win for the U.S.

“We still can’t let that many goals in. Obviously, we want to clean that up,” Rapinoe told Danielle Slaton on FS1 after the game. “But they’re a great attacking team, so you’ve got to give them credit. I think we showed a lot more heart and a lot more fight.”

The match saw 19 NWSL players start across the two teams.

Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC) started for the United States.

Eight NWSL players started for Australia: Lydia Williams (Reign FC), Clare Polkinghorne (Houston Dash), Elise Kellond-Knight (Reign FC), Caitlin Foord (Portland Thorns FC), Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride), Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars) and Ellie Carpenter (Portland Thorns FC).

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