On a rainy Wednesday night in Portland, for the fifth time, the United States Women’s National Team defeated the Republic of Ireland by a score of 5 goals to none, with Alex Morgan, who only played 59 minutes, supplying a trio of goals, all in the first half, and her second-half substitute, Sydney Leroux adding two more. Ireland managed just 3 shots to the USA’s 20, with only one of those on goal, compared to 10 for the USA.
Of the five goal-scoring plays, the most impressive was the second one, which involved 9 USA players, 17 consecutive passes, and took 62 seconds to complete. The play began in the 33rd minute when Hope Solo collected an off-target Ireland pass and then rolled it out to Christie Rampone. After several passes among mostly the USA’s midfield, Megan Rapinoe found Tobin Heath, who sent a long diagonal cross all the way to the corner arc where Becky Sauerbrunn, who started the match at left outside back, retreated and passed back to Heath, who was then near the left sideline. Heath then sent a short pass to Rapinoe, who passed to Sauerbrunn. Sauerbrunn next found Lauren Cheney on the left edge of the box. Then, Cheney had to spin out of a crowd of defenders, causing her to momentarily lose full possession. However, before an Ireland defender could knock the ball away, Cheney latched onto the ball and passed to Morgan. Morgan took a step to settle the ball and powered in a low left-footed shot into the lower left corner of the goal mouth.
Fig. #1: Diagram of the USA’s Second Goal-Scoring Play
Stats Notes: Morgan now has 27 goals this year in 27 appearances (24 starts). With Leroux’s two goals, she extens her record of goals by a substitute in a calendar year. (The previous record was 9, held by Debbie Keller.) The USWNT currently has scored 108 goals this year, through 28 matches, which puts this calendar year fourth all-time in total goals, behind 2000 (124 goals, 41 matches), 1991 (122 goals, 28 matches), and 1999 (111 goals, 29 matches).
The USA and Ireland will meet again on Saturday, December 1st, this time in Glendale, Arizona, at the University of Phoenix Stadium. That match will also be televised live on FOX Soccer, starting with a half-hour pre-game show at 9:00 p.m. ET.