U.S. women's soccer defeats Ireland 5-0 in fan tribute tour
Next stop for the Lady Yanks and Girls in Green: Glendale
The U.S. women’s national team rolled past the Republic of Ireland 5-0 on a chilly night as Alex Morgan scored a hat trick in the first half and Sydney Leroux added two goals off the bench after the break. Wednesday's match was the sixth of ten on the 2012 Fan Tribute Tour.
Next stop for the two teams: Saturday in Glendale.
The U.S. team moved to 4-0-2 on the Fan Tribute Tour, a celebration of the team’s run to a fourth gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. The two teams will meet again on Saturday at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Coverage begins on FOX Soccer at 7 p.m. Fans can follow the match via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
Morgan’s second career hat trick upped her total to 27 goals in 2012 and made her just the third U.S. player in history to surpass 25 goals in a calendar year. Abby Wambach scored 31 in 2004, while Michelle Akers holds the record with 39 in 1991.
The match was played on a slick artificial surface at JELD-WEN Field, home to Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers. After an inconsistent start from the U.S. team, Morgan scored three goals in 20 minutes to stake the Americans to a 3-0 halftime lead.
Ireland played in a 4-5-1 formation and dropped deep to limit the U.S.’s attacking space, but after Morgan was denied in the 7th and 21st minutes on nice saves from Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne, she started her hat trick night in the 24th minute.
The 23-year-old Morgan won a bouncing ball after it was headed down the right side by Heather Mitts. Morgan cut inside, losing several defenders with quick bursts while making a lateral run across the top of the penalty area. She slid to strike a pacey shot from just outside the penalty area that skimmed off the turf, off the inside of the left post and in past the diving Byrne.
Morgan doubled up in the 34th minute after a nice attack down the left wing. Left back Becky Sauerbrunn played a square pass into the penalty area and Lauren Cheney somehow worked her way through two defenders to turn and face the goal, then played a short pass back to Morgan at the top of the six-yard box. Morgan swung her lethal left foot and smashed a seven-yard shot past Byrne into the lower left corner.
Morgan added her third just before halftime after Abby Wambach played her a pass forward as she ran toward the penalty area. Morgan’s first shot was blocked, but the rebound went right back to her and she used her right foot this time to hit a low shot past the screened Byrne and into the right corner from 19 yards out.
Morgan’s first career hat trick came in the 2012 Algarve Cup in Portugal last March when she scored three goals in the 4-0 victory against Sweden in the third-place match of the tournament.
U.S. interim head coach Jill Ellis made four changes at halftime, but the game really heated up after Leroux and Amy Rodriguez came on in the 59th minute and the Americans switched to a 3-4-3 formation.
Leroux made it 4-0 in the 62nd minute after halftime substitute Heather O’Reilly beat her defender down the right flank on the sprint and sent a perfect cross into the middle. Leroux got a step on her defender and sent a header from six yards back toward the right side of the goal. Bryne was moving across the net and got a piece of the ball, but she was wrong-footed and could not keep it out of the net.
Leroux added her second in the 81st minute after a nice combination of passes between her, Lauren Cheney and Rodriguez, who got the ball to Leroux deep on the left side of the penalty area. She shot right at Bryne, but the ball had enough pace on it to slip past the Irish ‘keeper and into the net.
The two goals gave Leroux 12 goals in 2012, all off the bench, and extended her U.S. record for most goals as a reserve in a calendar year.
The visitors had some possession in first half, but it was almost all United States after the break, and the Americans ended up out-shooting Ireland 20-3 for the match.