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USA vs. Korea Republic, International Friendly: Final Score 3-1 as Yanks Comfortable in Win

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Pride striker Alex Morgan scores in her fourth straight international game.

South Korea v United States Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The United States Women’s National Team got goals from Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe to dispose of Korea Republic, 3-1, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. With the (mostly) comfortable win, the USWNT improves to 8-0-2 in the all-time series against South Korea.

Jill Ellis sat Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris on the bench on her birthday for the second straight year. Harris was on the bench on Oct. 19, 2016 when the U.S. beat Switzerland, 4-0, and she was there again tonight as Alyssa Naeher got the nod in goal. Morgan represented Orlando Pride with the start in front of a back line of Casey Short, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara; and a midfield of Ertz, Andi Sullivan, and Samantha Mewis. Joining Morgan up top were Rapinoe and Mallory Pugh.

As expected, the U.S. held the majority of the possession and got forward much more than South Korea, which looked to stay organized and hit on the counter.

O’Hara blasted a shot on frame at the 12-minute mark that forced a diving save from goalkeeper Kang Gaae, who left a juicy rebound for Short, but the follow-up was fired well over the goal. Mewis tested the keeper six minutes later but her shot was right at Gaae.

Around the 21-minute mark South Korea began a good spell of play that resulted in a few dangerous crosses across Naeher’s penalty area, with O’Hara making a good play to cut out one potentially lethal cross.

Just after that, the USWNT broke the deadlock. Off a Rapinoe corner kick, Ertz dove to get her head to the near-post ball and it fizzed through Gaae’s legs and into the net to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead at the 24-minute mark.

Short fed Morgan a nice cross five minutes later but the Pride striker had trouble handling the pass and headed well over the bar. But it didn’t take long for Morgan to make up for it.

In the 40th minute, Pugh played O’Hara down the right side. The fullback got to the end line and squared a ball back to Morgan, who settled it with a touch and held off a defender while she turned and fired home her 78th career U.S. goal and fourth in as many games.

Unfortunately, an apparent hamstring injury to Pugh marred the first half for the U.S. The Washington Spirit star pulled up and grabbed her right hammy after running to recover a ball. She went off in obvious pain, having to be carried eventually.

Han Chaerin pulled one back against the run of play for South Korea just before the half. In fact, it came in the fifth minute of stoppage after three minutes were shown on the board but that was obviously extended with the injury to Pugh. In her first international match, Chaerin turned Dahlkemper, the NWSL Defender of the Year, inside out, then blasted a shot over Naeher from distance for her first international goal.

South Korea started brightly just after the restart but it didn’t last long. Two minutes after the restart, Lynn Williams, who came on for Pugh in the first half, came forward with a pair of teammates in tow but she either crossed or shot badly and it trickled out for a goal kick.

But two minutes later Morgan played Williams down the right. Rather than shooting, Williams squared it across for Rapinoe, who was taken down in the box by Ji So-Yun. Rapinoe took the spot kick herself and blasted it in to make it 3-1 at the 52-minute mark.

Morgan looked for a brace five minutes after Rapinoe’s goal but her shot was comfortable for Gaae to collect after a nice buildup by the U.S. South Korea nearly pulled back within a goal at the 59-minute mark when So-Yun crushed a shot from distance that hit the woodwork where the crossbar and right post meet.

Ellis made multiple substitutions at the 63-minute mark, pulling Morgan, Rapinoe, and Short and inserting Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, and Sofia Huerta, respectively. Huerta slotted in at right back, moving O’Hara to the left side. Press and Dunn played on the attacking line with Williams.

Speaking of Williams, she took a nice cross just a minute later from halftime sub Lindsey Horan, who had come on for Sullivan, but the Courage striker fired right at the keeper.

Substitutions for both sides seemed to stall the flow of the game, preventing many clear-cut chances down the stretch. Horan did get a solid header on frame in the 74th minute off a set piece cross but Gaae was there to deflect it over the bar. Three minutes later, Press smashed a shot wide of goal from the left side of the box.

Carli Lloyd, who subbed on for Mewis just after the Press miss, got a free header off a set piece in the 82nd minute. That was about it for the scoring chances, and after four minutes of injury time the final whistle blew on a 3-1 victory for the United States.

These teams will line up and do it again on Sunday at 2 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.