KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Alex Morgan’s Hat-Trick paced the USWNT to a 4-2 defeat of Japan in their opening match of the 2018 Tournament of Nations.
USWNT Defeats Japan Behind Alex Morgan Hat Trick
Alex Morgan set the tone for the USWNT from the get go. After conceding 100 seconds after going up 1-0, the USWNT took care of business thanks to Morgan’s clinical finishing.
Morgan’s first came early as she and Rapinoe combined to make it 1-0. But it looked like the USWNT was in for it after Tanaka leveled quickly for Japan.
Morgan’s second came in the 26th minute after some very nice buildup play down the left side. Crystal Dunn overlapped and sent a ball that trickled all the way to the back post. Emily Sonnett played a deft chip up over the top as Morgan flicked her header on frame, and tucked it just inside the far post.
Morgan sealed her hat-trick in the 56th minute after Tobin Heath burned two Japanese defenders off the dribble, cut inside the 18 and rifled a pass across the six yard box. It pinged around and fell to Morgan who roofed her shot off the underside of the cross bar and in.
Megan Rapinoe rounded out the scoring for the USWNT in the 66th minute after she and Rose Lavelle combined for a nice goal.
Japan did peg one back though in the 76th minute. Moeno Sakaguchi cut inside ont her right and ripped a shot past Alyssa Naeher, into the upper corner. An impressive strike, but the damage had already been done.
- The USWNT switched their formations multiple times on the night. They played the entire first half in a 4-3-3. When they switched to a 4-2-3-1 in the second half, their early push forward for a goal was rewarded as they dominated the early going of the second half. The introduction of Tobin Heath into the match pushed the USWNT over the edge on sheer talent on the field.
- The USWNT did a good job of handling the Japanese press by moving the ball forward quickly, and getting it to their playmakers in between the Japanese Midfield and Defensive lines.
- The Japanese overextended themselves in the press multiple times, leading to what probably should have been goals for the USWNT. It probably could’ve been worse if the USWNT weren’t lacking the final ball for a good portion of the first half.