Alex Morgan scored her 98th international goal just before halftime as the United States women downed Scotland 1-0 in a friendly in Paisley, Scotland on Tuesday. It wasn’t the prettiest performance the U.S. has put forth this year by a longshot, but they got the job done despite a Carli Lloyd missed penalty. The win completed an undefeated 2018 for the U.S. women, a fabulous feat on the whole.
The United States was dominant throughout the opening 45 minutes, controlling 70% possession and holding the hosts to just a single shot. Morgan struck four minutes before the break as Mallory Pugh sent in a deep cross from the right flank that sailed just over the head of a leaping Lloyd but dipped right to Morgan unmarked at the far post. The 29-year-old finished with a powerful volley, connecting with the ball mid-flight and rocketing it inside the right post.
The goal is Morgan’s 18th of the season and 25th goal over her last 26 international matches. Otherwise, the United States held the possessional advantage but struggled to produce too many clear-cut chances. That changed after halftime.
The US came incredibly close to a second in the 53rd minute as Julie Ertz trailing the play received a layoff from Morgan, and while her effort deflected off a defender, it was saved wonderfully by halftime substitute Shannon Lynn who managed to get her leg up to block the deflection despite laying out for the initial shot.
The visitors were awarded a penalty in the 62nd minute as Kirsty Smith clipped the toes of Pugh in the box, and Lloyd took the spot-kick, smashing it against the crossbar and out of play with Lynn right there looking on, having guessed correctly.
Scotland had its best chance of the evening in the 75th minute as they won the ball in the attacking third and charged forward to Erin Cuthbert. She charged forward splitting U.S. defenders, but eventually the ball was cleared by Becky Sauerbrunn after a heavy touch by Cuthbert as she looked to take aim on the doorstep. They would get another good look five minutes ltaer as Julie Ertz was caught out by a wonderful chipped ball over the top toLana Clelland who rifled on net, but the shot was turned wide by Ashlyn Harris.
That was it for the game as both teams brought on late subs, but no more big chances were created. The victory is the 18th of the season for the United States, going a full calendar year without a loss through its 20 total games. The USWNT also extended its clean sheet streak to a whopping 884 minutes, extending nine full shutout matches, the longest streak since 2004/05 when they went 10 straight matches.
For Scotland, the defeat snaps a five-game winning streak that dates back to an April 5th loss to Switzerland in World Cup qualifying.