The U.S. women’s national team opened up the 2018 season in style Sunday night as they took down Denmark — the 2017 EURO runners-up — with a 5-1 victory in front of 17,526 fans at SDCCU Stadium.

After a solid first few minutes for both sides, Denmark were the ones to find the back of the net first. In the 14th minute, Nadia Nadim rose up and headed the ball far post off a corner kick set piece, giving Denmark a surprising 1-0 lead.

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It didn’t take long for the U.S. to answer, when just three minutes later, Mallory Pugh found Alex Morgan in front of goal. Morgan guided the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer, her eighth goal in eight games.

Just two minutes later, the U.S. struck again, when Julie Ertz chipped in a shot over the Denmark keeper and into the goal, giving the U.S. the 2-1 lead, which held until the halftime whistle.

The U.S. picked up in the second half where they left off in the first, when Mallory Pugh intercepted a Denmark pass and went one-on-one with a defender, firing a shot into the net for the goal and a 3-1 U.S. lead.

In the 65th minute, after a poor clearance by the Denmark goalkeeper, Pugh recovered the ball and turned on the jets, racing to the goal and beating the keeper near post for a 4-1 U.S. lead. The goal was Pugh’s second of the match, and she also added an assist in a strong first showing of 2018.

Crystal Dunn added a goal in the 81st minute, making the score 5-1, which held until the final whistle for the first win of 2018.

After a good win over a solid opponent, the U.S. looks forward to the 2018 SheBelieves Cup in March and CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, which begins in June. A strong opening performance has the U.S. looking primed for a run throughout this year as they look to defend their World Cup title in France in 2019.

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Hope Solo Honored

Before the match, a ceremony was held to honor goalkeeper Hope Solo for reaching 200 career caps. Solo hasn’t appeared in a game for the U.S. since the 2016 Olympics and had an interesting exit from U.S. Soccer, but the ceremony is well deserved for the 2015 World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

First Caps

Tierna Davidson recorded her first cap and start in the match, filling in for the injured Becky Sauerbrunn at the center back position. Savannah McCaskill, who was selected No. 2 in the NWSL Draft last week, recorded her first cap, coming on as a sub in the second half.

Big Day For Ertz Family

It was a big day for the Ertz family on Sunday. While Julie scored what would be the game winner in the 19th minute in the U.S. victory, her husband Zach is headed to the Super Bowl after the Eagles beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship. The reaction by both of them is incredible.

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