SANTA MONICA — If this is what the National Women’s Soccer Team will look like in the 2019 World Cup, fans should be excited. The USWNT defeated Japan 4-2 Thursday night, July 26, in the first match of the Tournaments of Nations in Kansas City, Kansas.
The tournament plays host to four-teams from around the world — Japan, Brazil, USA and Australia who all happen to be ranked in the top 10 in the world currently. Last year, Australia dealt the US its first loss since the Rio Olympics, and this year the USWNT is determined to not let it happen again — and if they keep playing like they did Thursday, it won’t.
With a sold-out crowd in the stands, the US went to work entertaining the nearly 20,000 attendees. Alex Morgan stole the show as she clinched a hat trick over a matter of 36 minutes. By the 18th minute, Morgan simply tapped a pass past Japan’s goalkeeper to draw first blood. While Japan turned around to score two minutes later, Morgan turned around and returned the favor, heading the ball into the net in the 27th minute. She rounded off her run after half time, chipping the ball over the keeper’s head.
But it was the US superb team work that made Morgan’s job look so easy. It passed the ball with precision from one player to another, slotting the ball between several Japan players at times. Morgan’s first goal built up as it went from midfielder Christen Press to Megan Rapinoe on the sideline to Morgan in the box. Her second goal came off a pass from Lindsey Horan to Crystal Dunn who crossed it to Emily Sonnett. Sonnett chipped the pass after settling it, putting the ball in the air for Morgan to just head it slightly and move the balls direction. The US took the extra touches that in the end paid off as it led to its 4-2 victory in the tournament opener.
The tournament takes a short break as the teams head up to East Hartford, Connecticut. USA will play Australia next at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 29. Brazil and Japan face off at 4:15 on Sunday.