February 29, 2012
Second straight brace leads U.S. Women to 5-0 win
LAGOS, Portugal - For the second straight game, Alex Morgan scored two goals, this time leading the United States Women's National Team to a convincing 5-0 win over Denmark its Group B opener at the 2012 Algarve Cup.
|Alex Morgan scored two goals for the second straight game, leading the U.S. Women's National Team to a 5-0 win over Denmark in the Algarve Cup.
Morgan, who scored two late goals in the US's 2-1 win over New Zealand two weeks ago, also had an assist, while Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd and Sydney Leroux added single goals.
The USA played in a 4-4-2 formation, with Morgan and Wambach starting up top, and the duo once again proved to be a potent partnership.
The USA's first goal came in the 21st minute, as Wambach spun a long ball over the top to Morgan, whose run took her defender deep into Denmark territory. Morgan flicked the ball with her head to Heather O'Reilly on the right side and the U.S. midfielder collected, cut inside and then played it back to Morgan behind the defense and into the right side of the penalty area.
Under pressure, Morgan struck a hard shot from 16 yards out that caromed off the left post, rolled behind Denmark goalkeeper Heidi Johansen, and then settled into the net just inside the post.
The Americans' next goal came just a minute before halftime, and was once again a Morgan-Wambach production. Defender Amy LePeilbet struck a long ball from near the top of her own penalty area to Wambach at midfield. The U.S. striker flicked it on with her head to Morgan, who turned and raced down the right side with a defender in tow, almost all the way to the end line, drawing the 'keeper to the near post. Wambach lost her defender and burst to the top of the six-yard box to meet Morgan's short pass with a powerful sliding shot into the middle of the net for her 132nd career goal.
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made three changes at halftime, replacing Wambach with Tobin Heath, sending on Amy Rodriguez for O'Reilly and inserting Stephanie Cox for Kelley O'Hara at left back. All would add to the USA's attack in the final 45 minutes, as Heath played flank midfield, moving Cheney up top with Morgan.
Denmark's best second-half chance came when Nadia Nadim flew through the middle to get her head on a corner kick, but it bounced right into goalkeeper Hope Solo's steady hands.
The USA put the game away with three nice goals at the end of the match. The first came in the 76th minute, when Morgan slipped a ball through to Cheney, who was charging into the left side of the box. She beat Johansen to the ball, smoothly rounding the Denmark 'keeper with a deft touch and then slammed her shot off the left post. The ball came back to Cheney in the left side of the penalty area, and she rolled a pass into the middle for Lloyd, who pushed a shot into the right corner with her right foot a few yards left of the penalty spot.
Morgan added her second goal in the 84th minute, after substitute Lori Lindsey lofted a ball from the right side toward the top of the box. Morgan leaped to win the ball and it fell into a pack of players just inside the penalty area. Heath battled several defenders to dig the ball out and Morgan came running through to smack her shot through traffic and into the net. It was Morgan's 18th career international goal and her team-leading eighth this year.
The USA continued to push in the final minutes, and the fifth goal was no surprise. Morgan ran down a pass on the left flank, just saving it from going out of bounds. She then passed back to Cox in the left side of the box and the U.S. defender struck a hard shot on the ground through a pack of players. The ball looked likely to roll past the far post until Leroux - who did well to stay onside - slid to knock it into the open net from the sharpest of angles. Leroux, the USA's youngest player at 21, scored her sixth career goal in just six games after getting five in one game at Olympic Qualifying in Vancouver, Canada.
The USA will meet Norway next on March 2 at 10 a.m. ET in Lagos. Fans can follow the action on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter at @ussoccer_wnt.