US Women’s National Team 5:0 Republic of Ireland
By Kara McDermott
The US Women continued their post-Olympic victory tour on a rainy night at Jeld-Wen field in Portland against the Republic of Ireland, the first of a two-game series between these seldom opponents.
The US entered the game protecting a 8-0-0 record against Ireland and a 30-1 goal advantage. In front of 10,092 soggy fans, with scoring frenzies by Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux, they pulled away still further from the ladies in green.
The first half belonged to Tobin Heath and Morgan. Heath was the most visible player on the field, traversing to and fro on the field and running up and down on it, feeding the goal box with crosses and opportunities.
However, it was the noted speedster Morgan who wrestled the attention of the game by tallying her second hat trick of the year and her career in a succession of 10-minute rallies. The first goal came in the 24th minute.
Heather Mitts popped a header forward that Morgan brought down from just outside the box. With the ball at her foot, she collected herself with several touches across towards the center, shaking her defenders. With a final sliding shot, she sent the ball towards the far left post. The post obliged by redirecting the ball into the net past goalkeeper Emma Byrne.
This goal would be her 25th of the year, making her only the third player in USWNT history to score 25 or more goals in single year – joining the ranks of Abby Wambach’s 31 in 2004 and Michelle Akers’ 39 in 1991.
And the goals kept coming. In the 34th minute, Morgan capitalized on a short pass from Lauren Cheney in the box to rattle the nets. And then again in the 44th minute, she converted a forward pass from Wambach by following up her initial deflection to bury the ball with a low long-range shot.
Wambach and Morgan have become an intimidating offensive tandem. The duo has tallied between them 50 goals this season – fast approaching the record set by Akers and Carin Jennings in 1991 who combined for 55 goals.
Both came off for a break in the second half and left the game open for others to build some numbers. Leroux in particular took advantage of the opportunity. She scored early on a header off of a cross from Heather O’Reilly in the 62nd minute. In the 81st, she brought the ball down the left side, fed the center, and then waited for Amy Rodriguez to pop it back out to her to finish for two goals on the night.
Leroux now holds the record for the most goals scored by a reserve player with 13 for the year.
Ireland will have another chance against the US when they two teams play again on December 1st at the University of Phoenix.