U.S. tops Mexico 4-1 in first of two April friendlies
Alex Morgan scores a brace
Alex Morgan scores a brace in friendly vs. Mexico. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)
Alex Morgan scores a brace in friendly vs. Mexico. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

By Celia Balf

The U.S. women’s national team continued their undefeated 2018 campaign on Thursday night defeating Mexico 4-1 in front of 14,360 fans at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The two teams met in the first-leg of a pair of friendlies — the second match scheduled for Sunday, April 8, at BBVA Compass Stadium. These games are key competitions for both sides in their preparation for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship coming up this October 4-17.

Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh opened up scoring for the United States in just the sixth minute of play. The United States’ other three goals came in the second half thanks to a brace from Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan (51st and 53rd minute), followed by a finish from Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd in the 54th minute to make it 4-0. Sky Blue FC forward Katie Johnson scored Mexico’s only goal on the night, scoring in the 64th minute.

Pugh’s opening goal was her fourth finish for the USWNT in 2018. U.S center back Tierna Davidson made a big defensive step which fed Orlando Pride forward Morgan into space. Morgan found Seattle Reign forward Megan Rapinoe in the box who was able to slide it across to Pugh, who slipped it past Mexico and Houston Dash goalkeeper Bianca Henninger for the 1-0 lead.

After Jill Ellis’ side got on the board, the game began to build for Mexico. The U.S. were thorough in the final third, however struggled to build out of the back against a pressing Mexican offense. The first half ended with the U.S. up 1-0, but it was a favorable scoreline for a young Mexican side.

Sky Blue’s Johnson and Houston Dash’s Henninger were both in the starting lineup for Mexico, with Henninger in goal and Johnson playing at target forward.

The second half opened up and who other than Morgan put her stamp on the game. Just a few minutes into the start of the second 45, Rapinoe, using great game awareness took advantage of a quick throw-in. The NWSL March Player of the Month quickly threw the ball into Morgan who made a crafty inside-out run and drew a foul in the box for a penalty kick. Morgan struck the ball to the low right corner past Henninger to make it 2-0.

A minute later, Morgan seemed to be the only one able to catch her breath. She made another inside-out run and was fed through by Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan. Morgan lifted up her head to see a sliver open for a shot and struck it far post for a 3-0 lead.  This is the 18th two-goal game of her career.

The U.S. made several substitutions in the second half, with Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd entering the game in the 53rd minute and immediately making an impact. Lloyd saw the ball go wide to Horan and timed her run to make sure she was in an onside position. Horan served the ball in, and with a one-time strike, Lloyd scored her 99th international goal and pushed the USWNT’s lead to 4-0. Lloyd will look for her 100th career goal on Sunday. Horan’s two assists on the night have her at 15 in her career and this also marks her third multi-assist game for the national team.

Also entering the game in the second half for the USWNT were Seattle Reign FC’s Allie Long (71′), Sky Blue FC’s Savannah McCaskill (71′), Utah Royals FC’s Becky Sauerbrunn (77′) and Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch (80′). This was Hatch’s second cap for the U.S.

Johnson’s goal was a textbook chip over Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the 64th minute. Naeher initially tried to clear the ball, but Mexico was able to capitalize off of the poor clearance. Ariana Calderón got a hold of it and played Johnson in behind. Naeher, far off her line was chipped by Johnson to put Mexico on the board.

The United States and Mexico will have two days of rest before gearing up for the second leg at the home stadium of the NWSL’s Houston Dash on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT (FOX).

– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: April 5, 2018
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Fla.
Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. ET
Attendance: 14,360
Weather:  64 degrees; Partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:      1          2          F
USA                             1          3          4                      
DEN                             0          1          1

USA – Mallory Pugh (Megan Rapinoe)                           6th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (penalty kick)                                  51
USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsey Horan)                              53
USA – Carli Lloyd (Lindsey Horan)                                 54
MEX – Katie Johnson (Ariana Calderón)                         64

USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 16-Emily Sonnett, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 17-Tierna Davidson, 19-Crystal Dunn; 3-Andi Sullivan (10-Carli Lloyd, 53), 6-Morgan Brian (20-Allie Long, 71), 9-Lindsey Horan; 11-Mallory Pugh (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 77), 13-Alex Morgan (capt.) (22-Ashley Hatch, 80), 15-Megan Rapinoe (21-Savannah McCaskill, 71)
Substitutes: 18-Jane Campbell, 25-Hailie Mace
Head coach: Jill Ellis

MEX: 1-Bianca Henninger; 2-Kenti Robles, 13-Annia Mejía (23-Christina Murillo, 57), 3-Bianca Sierra, 5-Mónica Flores (22-Greta Espinoza, 46); 7-Cristina Ferral (8-Ariana Calderón, 46), 6-Karla Nieto (4-Vanessa Flores, 78), 19-Katie Johnson (21-Renae Cuéllar,76); 11-Mónica Ocampo (capt.) (17-María Sánchez, 76), 10-Stephany Mayor, 18-Kiana Palacios
Substitutes: 9-Anisa Guajardo, 12-Cecilia Santiago,14-Jocelyn Orejel, 16-Marcela Valera
Head coach: Roberto Medina

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 20 / 9
Shots on Goal: 6 / 1
Saves: 1 / 4
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 7 / 10
Offside: 4 / 0

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Cardella Samuels (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Jennifer Garner (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Princess Brown (JAM)
4th Official: Christina Unkel (USA)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan

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