Forget the Year of the Dragon; 2012 is shaping up to be the year of Alex Morgan.
The 22-year-old forward scored twice on Wednesday – her 7th and 8th goals of the year – in the United States women’s soccer team’s 5-0 victory over Denmark to open the 2012 edition of the Algarve Cup, a top women’s international tournament hosted each year in the Algarve region of Portugal.
Morgan opened the scoring in the 21st minute and scored added her second – and the United States’ fourth – in the 84th minute. She also assisted on Abby Wambach’s 44th minute goal that put the U.S. up 2-0 before halftime.
“She’s been playing well for a while now, but now is the first time she is in the starting lineup for more than one game and not only that but she plays 90 minutes,” U.S. head coach Pia Sunhage said of Morgan. “During the World Cup she helped the team tremendously coming off the bench. She will help this team being on the field for 90 minutes for many games I think. For young players, there will be ups and downs, but her speed and her technique is better than a year ago and she’s a goal scorer that’s for sure.”
Carli Lloyd scored in the 76th minute and Sydney Leroux rounded out the scoring when she finished a cross from Stephanie Cox in the third minute of stoppage time. As expected, it was a dominant start for the United States in a tournament the American women have won seven of the last nine years.
ALSO IN GROUP B:
Defending World Cup champion Japan started the tournament off with a tighter than expected 2-1 victory over Norway. Isabell Herlovsen put Norway ahead in the 15th minute on a lovely strike before Yuki Nagasato equalized just before halftime. Nahomi Kawasumi scored the winner in the 66th minute. Japan and the United States face each other in a World Cup final rematch on Monday.
Germany beat Iceland 1-0 on Wednesday. Anja Mittag scored the game-winner in the 25th minute.
Sweden also won by a narrow margin, topping China 1-0 thanks to an 83rd minute goal from Antonia Göransson.
The 1-0 scorelines continued in Group C, with Hungary topping Ireland 1-0 on a goal from Lilla Sipos and Angharad James giving Wales a 1-0 victory over host Portugal.
In case you missed “This Week in Women’s Soccer,” here is this week’s episode previewing the Algarve Cup and the Cyprus Cup.
Tony DiCicco has been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame as a builder. The legendary ex-U.S. women’s coach joins Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola and Desmond Armstrong in the class of 2012.
U.S. Soccer takes a look at Kelley O’Hara’s switch from forward to outside back.
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