Alex Morgan’s goal lifts the United States past China, 1-0

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Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB

SANDY, UTAH (June 7, 2018) —ย In the same stadium where Alex Morgan made her U.S. Women’s National Team debut over eight years ago, the good luck still is working.

Morgan scored her 86th international goal against China on Thursday night. The goal lifted the United States past the Chinese, 1-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Alex Morgan’s goal lifts the United States past China, 1-0

Morgan also donned the captain’s armband in the match. The move was made by U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Jill Ellis to expand leadership within the program. On the same field, and Starting XI, was Becky Sauerbrunn, one of the United States’ resident captains.

However, it was Morgan who stole the show with her 57th-minute goal in front ofย 13,230 fans. Megan Rapinoe recorded the assist.

Morgan praised Rapinoe by saying she “puts a great ball in, always.”

“Our job is to get on the end of it whether that’s a corner or a free kick,” Morgan said to media members after the match. “I felt like there were some corners in the first half that I could have gotten my head on. We have our positions that we need to go to, our roles on free kicks. Pinoe always puts it in a great position, so we need to credit her for that.”

Rapinoe’s assist was her sixth of the year, which leads the team.

“You know that 95 percent of the time, it’s going to be an amazing cross in,” Morgan said. “So, for us, that kind of takes a little bit of pressure off of us, knowing that it’s going to be a great service every single time.”

Rodriguez Makes Her Return

The biggest moment of the match was the return of Amy Rodriguez.

After missing a year with the national team due to an ACL injury, Rodriguez made her first appearance back since April 6, 2017. She entered in the match for Morgan in the 76th minute to resounding applause.

“Gosh, it’s so fun to play with this team,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously, I’ve been out for a year with my ACL tear. It’s just so nice to be back on the pitch again wearing the red, white and blue, supporting my team. I just wanted to get my legs back under me and help the team solidify the win tonight.

Rodriguez credited her “uphill battle” of recovering from the ACL injury as a credit to the pure emotion of coming back to the national team program.

“It was everything I remembered, but meant so much more,” Rodriguez said. “I put a lot of tears, sweat into this. I’m just happy to be back on the field tonight.”

Ellis said that Rodriguez’ comeback is “remarkable.”

“I know the work she has put in,” Ellis said to the media after the match. “Being a parent, I know to do that with two young boys is exceptional. I think in terms of A-Rod and her commitment, her mindset is fantastic. I wanted to see her in these games — and seeing her in training, she still has the same qualities.”

“She’s great for team chemistry as well.”

Rodriguez said that playing a Rio Tinto was “a unique experience.” She features almost every weekend with the Utah Royals in the same stadium.

“It felt like home a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “It’s always nice to play in front of your home crowd. Definitely, a lot of fans cheering my name tonight, so that felt really good. I just wanted to put on a good show for the fans.”

“Hopefully they all had a good time.”

A 15-Game Unbeaten Streak

The United States is now unbeaten in the last 15 matches.

However, Rodriguez said that while they might be called friendly matches, “they’re not always friendly.”

“These are World Cup qualifying preparation matches for us,” Rodriguez said. “Right now, the team is gearing up. We have a big task ahead in the fall with the qualifiers coming up. So, right now it’s building to that and making sure we’re firing on cylinders come then.”

What’s Next?

Both teams will travel to Cleveland, Ohio, to face off again.

This time, the match will be held at FirstEnergy Stadium. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m. ET and will be available to watch on ESPN 2.

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