The United States Women’s National Team started their two-games series against Romania on Thursday night at Avaya Stadium in front of over 16,000 fans. New faces continued to earn opportunities under head coach Jill Ellis, with Kealia Ohai earning her first start while Casey Short, Lynn Williams, and Andi Sullivan all earned yet another start after doing well in the October friendlies.
Goals galore in first 45
As usual, it didn’t take very long for the United States to find themselves on the board. In the 8th minute, Tobin Heath played a ball into the box for Crystal Dunn, who attempted to trap it but was pressured by defenders and tripped up. Christen Press was quick to collect, though, quick to attack the ball and finish it with one touch to get the United States up 1-0.
Two minutes later, Heath added her name to the scoreboard with a one-touch finish, her ball making it all the way to the far upper 90. The action wasn’t done yet, as Laura Rus of Romania earned a yellow card for pulling the back of Dunn’s jersey. With a free kick outside of the box, Sullivan sent a ball into the box and with a perfectly timed run and diving header, Morgan Brian found her first international goal of 2016 and had her team up 3-0 in the 25th minute.
Romania wasn’t going to let the United States have all the goals, as star forward Rus found the ball and split two of the U.S. defenders and charged towards goal. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris came way off her line and out of her box in attempts to stop her, but Rus easily beat her and found the back of the net to lower the deficit to 3-1. Press wouldn’t let it stay that way, as she scored goals both in the 35th and 38th to finish off the half and her time on the field with a hat trick and lead the USWNT 5-1 against Romania.
Morgan makes impact, McDonald sees the field
The second half saw five subs at the start, most importantly Western New York Flash forward Jess McDonald making her first appearance for the red, white and blue. Alex Morgan was also subbed in at the half, taking Press’ place up top. Morgan was quick to get in on the action minutes into the half. Dunn made her way past defenders to the end line, picking up her head and crossing the ball. Morgan was lurking far post and was above to get up and head the ball to get the USWNT up 6-1. Ten minutes later, Allie Long made a run into the box but was tripped up by two Romanian defenders drawing the foul. Morgan stepped up to take it, but her shock was brilliantly blocked by goalkeeper Roxana Oprea and cleared out by the Romanian defense for a throw in.
Newcomer McDonald was close to getting her name on the scoresheet, but she was just a step offside for Heath’s diagonal ball. Morgan once again found the back of the net in the 75th minute, and to no surprise, it was Dunn beating her defenders on the outside before sending a ball in. Oprea attempted to punch it away, but Morgan was there to volley it into the back of the net to give herself the brace and raise the score to 7-1. The game settled down in the end, with the USWNT keeping majority of possession and still creating attacking chances. One last bit of action came in the second minute of stoppage time when Tobin Heath tried to find the back of the net, but defender Maria Ficzay got a foot to in and scored an own goal, giving the United States an 8-1 victory.
This match goes in as the USWNT’s first ever victory against Romania. They will face Romania again on Sunday, November 13 at the Stubhub Center in Los Angeles. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.