Christen Press scored a first-half hat trick and Orlando Pride captain Alex Morgan added a brace as the United States Women’s National Team romped to an 8-1 win over world No. 36 Romania in the first-ever meeting between the two nations. By winning the international friendly at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium, the USWNT improved to 21-0-3 in 2016 (the Sweden match in the Olympics officially goes down as a draw, with the Swedes advancing on penalties).
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was the lone Orlando Pride starter for the USWNT, with Morgan on the bench and Kristen Edmonds and Ali Krieger left out of the 18. Jill Ellis employed a 3-4-3 with Allie Long playing defense between Becky Sauerbrunn on the right and Casey Short on the left. Andi Sullivan patrolled central midfield with Tobin Heath and Kealia Ohai on the wings and Morgan Brian facilitating for Press, Crystal Dunn, and Lynn Williams up top.
It didn’t take long for the U.S. to take the lead. Press drew first blood in the eighth minute on the half volley, after Heath’s long ball for Dunn fell perfectly for the Chicago Red Stars striker. Her blast was just under the bar for her 38th international goal.
Three minutes later, Heath doubled the U.S. lead. Press sent a ball out to the wide left, where Heath ran onto it and bent a shot into the far right corner to make it 2-0.
Tobin Heath makes it 2-0. pic.twitter.com/NnCNdeg97a— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) November 11, 2016
Press nearly got another assist two minutes after Heath’s goal, sending Williams in behind the defense, but Romanian goalkeeper Roxana Oprea made a great sprawling save to keep the deficit at two goals.
Romania nearly got one back in the 16th minute, when Laura Rus got between two U.S. defenders and put her noggin onto a good cross, but her header went off the outside of the right post, sparing Harris and the Yanks a goal.
Dunn drew the game’s first yellow card when she danced around Rus near the Romania penalty area and forced the Romanian forward to grab her and pull her down. Rus’ booking proved costly to Romania, as Morgan Brian scored on a diving header from Sullivan’s free kick to make it 3-0 just 25 minutes into the match.
Rus put the Romanians on the board in the 31st minute. After Oprea nearly got caught in possession in her own six, a long ball found Rus behind the U.S. defense. Harris, who was well off her line when the play began, was caught in a no-win situation, and came out to challenge but could not head off Rus. The Romanian No. 9 rounded her and scored into an empty net, pulling her team to within 3-1.
Press restored the three-goal advantage in the 35th. Heath bombed forward and sent Dunn down the left. Dunn crossed for Williams, who had her shot blocked but it fell nicely again for Press, who beat Oprea. Press then completed her hat trick in the 38th off a nice assist from Brian as the U.S. broke the game open.
Dunn sent one in right at Oprea in the late stages of the opening period for the last good scoring chance of the half, and the USWNT took a 5-1 lead into the break. The U.S. had a commanding 11-2 shots advantage in the first half, with an 8-1 edge in shots on goal and 71% of the possession.
Press came off at the half for Morgan, as part of six changes Ellis made to the lineup, including Jessica McDonald of the Western New York Flash getting her first international cap.
The chances kept coming. Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan got in behind the defense just two minutes after the break but her attempt to chip the goalkeeper was hit poorly and missed wide to the left. In the 51st, Morgan stung a ball from long range that forced a diving save from Oprea.
A minute later, Morgan got on the score sheet, nodding home a perfect cross from Dunn. It was Morgan’s 72nd career international goal, extending the lead to 6-1.
Morgan got an injury scare in the 59th minute when she was taken out by defender Teodora Meluta, who was booked for an awful challenge, but the Pride captain was able to continue. She nearly got some revenge in the 62nd, blasting a left-footed effort just wide of goal.
Alex again nearly had a second in 64th minute but had a penalty kick saved by Oprea. Allie Long got into the box and drew the penalty when she was chopped down by a Romanian defender. Morgan stepped up and fizzed a pacey left-footed shot on target but too close to the Romanian keeper, who guessed right and made a diving stop.
Roxana Oprea makes the save! pic.twitter.com/50CP8x5F5c— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) November 11, 2016
In the 72nd, Morgan turned and fired on target from a tough angle to force another Oprea save. But three minutes later Morgan finally earned her brace by sweeping home a rebound off a collision between Horan and Oprea after Dunn put another great ball into the area. It was Morgan’s 20th multi-goal game in her international career.
McDonald nearly added to the 7-1 lead when she sent a header right at Oprea in the 78th minute, as she attempted to duplicate what Ohai and Williams did against Switzerland and score a goal in her first cap. Samantha Mewis forced a tough save, Long missed wide, and Heath had a blast saved in the final 10 minutes as the U.S. continued to pour forward against an exhausted Romanian defense.
Heath capped the scoring in stoppage time firing in a shot that deflected in off defender Maria Ficzay to make it 8-1.
These same two teams will meet again at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET.