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Heath scores in return to give USWNT 2-1 win over China

The United States women’s national team defeated China, 2-1, in Cincinnati on Tuesday night behind goals from Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Li Ying scored for China to prevent a second straight shutout for the visitors.

Much like the first edition of the U.S.-China matchup, a 1-0 win for the USWNT in Salt Lake City on Thursday night, Tuesday’s match didn’t provide much for U.S. fans to brag about. In the opening half, the U.S. did enjoy the vast majority of the possession and chances, but other than a couple of opportunities on goal around the half-hour mark, the home side seemed to struggle, especially in regards to maintaining possession of the ball in the midfield.

The first real bit of excitement came in the 31st minute when Rapinoe was given a chance on goal, but she unselfishly played it for Alex Morgan. China’s goalkeeper Peng Shimeng blocked Morgan’s shot, but Ertz ran onto the rebound and buried it into the back of the net, only to have the offside flag raise to negate the goal.

Rapinoe finally broke the deadlock moments later, connecting with Christen Press, making her 100th appearance for the USWNT, for the goal. Midfielder Sam Mewis sent a ball in for Press along the near flank, and Press sent a cross in front of goal for Rapinoe. Rapinoe split the keeper and defender Wu Haiyan, who attempted to clear the ball off the line, with a header toward the near post for the opening goal of the match.

Rapinoe’s goal was the lone one of the first half, but a short burst of scoring opened up in the 72nd minute to send the game to it’s 2-1 result. China was the next to get on the board after some shaky defense from the U.S. allowed Li Tingting and Li Ying to go 2v1 with goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. Li Tingting drove the ball towards goal and was seemingly in scoring position, but she opted instead to cross the ball over for Li Ying, who slotted the ball past Harris to level the score. China nearly doubled their goal count just two minutes later, but Harris made a huge stop to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.

Instead Tobin Heath, making her 2018 debut and first USWNT appearance in nine months when she entered in the 65th minute, would put the home side in the lead three minutes after China’s goal. Heath engaged in a little give-and-go with Press inside the box, but a bad touch from Heath led to an uncalled handball on China that fell back to Heath’s foot. Seizing the opportunity, Heath took the shot, tucking the ball just under the crossbar to chip the keeper for the game-winning goal.

Heath wasn’t the only player to make her return to the USWNT Tuesday night, as Rose Lavelle also entered the match alongside Heath in the 65th minute. The match was also the first for Lavelle in nine months, as the midfielder has been sidelined by a lingering hamstring injury for much of the past two seasons.

Merritt Mathias also earned her first senior USWNT cap, entering the match in the 77th minute.

The USWNT players will now return to their clubs before reconvening in July for the Tournament of Nations, which kicks off on Thursday, July 26.

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