Rapinoe, Heath score as U.S. beats China PR 2-1
Courage defender Merritt Mathias earned her first cap
Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath scored in her first game for the USWNT in 2018. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)
Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath scored in her first game for the USWNT in 2018. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe scored her 37th international goal as the U.S. women’s national team topped China PR 2-1 on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio.

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath scored the game-winner in the 75th minute.

Rapinoe’s goal came in the 35th minute, a header goal on a well-placed cross by Christen Press.

The United States made five changes from last week’s starting lineup. Sam Mewis, Sofia Huerta, Press, Morgan Brian and Ashlyn Harris all slotted into the starting lineup for the second meeting with China in the last five days.

The fresh legs helped the United States find more room and space in the midfield in the first half and enter halftime with a 1-0 lead.

Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle subbed in in the 65th minute, her first international minutes since September 19, 2017 in a win over New Zealand, following her hamstring strain suffered last June. Heath also entered the match at the same time for her first minutes USWNT since that same game.

In the second half, China created a few more chances and eventually scored a goal of their own.

China tied it in the 72nd minute on a defensive misplay by the United States. Defenders Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC) and Tierna Davidson both went up to head the ball near midfield, leaving the U.S. backline out of position. China’s Li Ying scored following a 2 vs. 1 with Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage).

Less than two minutes later, Harris made a diving save on a direct free kick effort from about 23 yards out that would’ve given China the lead. The Pride goalkeeper was not called on much in the match, but came up big when needed most. The game was Harris’ first start of 2018 and she played all 90 minutes in the match.

A minute after Harris’ save, Heath put the United States up for good with a chip after a give-and-go with Press in the box.

It’s Heath’s first goal since November 2016 vs. Romania and her 19th career goal. Heath almost scored another in the 77th minute, but pulled her shot just wide.

North Carolina Courage defender Merritt Mathias entered in the 77th minute for her first international cap, replacing Huerta at the right back position.

The win came in the second of two friendlies vs. China PR. Last week, the United States won 1-0 in Sandy, Utah.

The NWSL returns to action with four games on Saturday evening. The United States women’s national team will next be in action at the 2018 Tournament of Nations when they take on Australia, Brazil and Japan later this summer.

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