Tournament Of Nations: U.S. Takes Down Japan 4-2; Alex Morgan Nets Hat Trick

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The USWNT opened up the 2018 Tournament of Nations with a big victory and looks to take the tournament crown after a disappointing 2017 performance.

In front of a sellout crowd in Kansas City on Thursday night, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) opened up this year’s edition of the Tournament of Nations with a 4-2 victory over Japan.

The U.S. looked dangerous early and often even as Japan continued to put pressure on them throughout the match. Just 18 minutes in the U.S. found the back of the net when a sprinting Christen Press delivered a ball to Megan Rapinoe, who crossed it into the path of Alex Morgan for a 1-0 lead.

Japan responded just two minutes later, equalizing via a Mina Tanaka chip over U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

The U.S. battled back to re-take the lead in the 26th minute of play when Crystal Dunn chipped a ball into the box which fell to the feet of Emily Sonnet, who lifted the ball over multiple Japanese defenders to Alex Morgan, who redirected the pass off her head and into the goal for a 2-1 lead.

After a few more chances (including an open shot Julie Ertz fired right at the keeper) the halftime whistle blew with the U.S. holding the advantage.

The play picked up in the second half despite the U.S. not changing its formation or tactics, which led to another goal, when second half substitute Tobin Heath put on a dribbling clinic past Japanese defenders crossing the ball into the box. Japan failed to clear the ball which found Morgan, who brought the ball down and fired a shot into the goal for a 3-1 U.S. lead in the 56th minute. The goal completed the hat trick for Morgan, the fourth of her career, and her 16th goal in the last 16 matches for the USWNT.

The U.S. added another goal just 10 minutes later when Megan Rapinoe used a deflection of a Rose Lavelle pass to smash a ball past the Japan keeper for a 4-1 U.S. lead.

Japan recovered one goal in the 76th minute when Moeno Sakaguchi fired a ball past Naeher, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Despite conceding goal, the U.S. were able to hold off the final Japanese attacks in the final moments and record the win.

Unbeaten In 2018

The U.S. has yet to lose a match in 2018, recording wins over Denmark, Germany, England, Mexico (twice), China PR (twice) and Japan along with a draw vs. France.

In addition to an 8-0-1 start to 2018, the U.S. is unbeaten overall in its last 16 matches, last falling to Australia in 2017.

Hat Trick

With a hat trick against Japan, Morgan has now recorded four in her career. Now with 89 goals scored in 143 international appearances, Morgan is on pace to become the third-youngest player in U.S. history to reach the 100-goal mark. She now has nine goals in nine games in 2018, leading the team in goals scored.

Up Next

The USWNT takes on Australia on Sunday in East Hartford, Conn. Australia won the 2017 Tournament of Nations. Both teams currently sit level at the top pf the table with 3 points and a +2 goal differential after the Matildas recorded a 3-1 victory over Brazil.

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