SANDY, Utah — As she often does, Alex Morgan came through for the United States women’s national team Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. Morgan scored the only goal in the first of two friendlies against China PR to give the U.S. a 1-0 win in front of an announced 13,230 fans.
In the 57th minute, Megan Rapinoe placed a perfect ball for Morgan to score a header to the center of the goal.
“I know [Rapinoe] puts in a great ball, always, so our job is to get on the end of it, whether that’s a corner or a free kick,” Morgan said after the match.
Though she caused some concern in the 71st minute when she fell to the ground because of a bad foul — China’s Wu Haiyan was given a yellow card for the incident— Morgan continued to play for a few minutes before being subbed out for Amy Rodriguez in the 76th minute.
The USWNT remains undefeated in the confines of Rio Tinto Stadium with a 5-0-0 record on Real Salt Lake’s home field.
“We love playing here,” head coach Jill Ellis said. “It’s a great surface. I’m kind of a surface snob, and I think this is nice surface to play on. The crowd is always very good and always knowledgeable about the game.”
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) June 8, 2018
The team’s uniforms were adorned with rainbow numbers on the back in support of Pride Month, and the ball the team played with also had rainbow elements.
The U.S did a solid job controlling the ball as it held 58 percent of possession. Overall, the U.S. recorded 11 shots, three of which were on goal. Its defense was on par with its offense and only allowed three total shots from China.
In the first half, the U.S. saw plenty of opportunities come and go. Morgan came close to scoring in the 30th minute, but her shot was just wide left. A few minutes later, Lindsey Horan almost got the ball in the back of the net, but her shot was blocked. In the 34th minute, Alyssa Naeher came up with a critical save in the center of the goal to keep things even at 0-0. While the U.S. continued to put a good amount of pressure on China, both teams went into the half scoreless.
“I said to the team at halftime, ‘We need to be more proactive in our game and that brings the crowd into it,’” Ellis said.
United States' Alex Morgan (13) shoots past Mexico's Bianca Sierra (3) during the first half of an international friendly soccer match Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Following Morgan’s goal in the 57th, Crystal Dunn and Rapinoe had a couple of opportunities to double the lead, but the ball was just a bit misplaced each time. The Americans’ last look came in the 93rd minute when Carli Lloyd, who came in as a substitute for Rapinoe in the 66th minute, almost scored, but her header was saved.
McCall Zerboni, who started Wednesday, said these friendlies are all about experimentation and preparation for what competitions lie ahead.
“It’s all about playing with each other and figuring each other out, all our strengths and our tendencies on the field, and what the best mix is to put our best foot forward and get ourselves kicking and ready for the World Cup,” Zerboni said.
The U.S. will play another friendly against China PR on Tuesday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.
Megan Rapinoe #15 of United States dribbles the ball in the second half against Mexico at Everbank Field on April 5, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)