Mallory Pugh secured a brace in the 5-1 win. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

SAN DIEGO — Mallory Pugh struck twice in the second half as the U.S. women’s national team kicked off 2018 with a solid 5-1 triumph over Denmark Sunday.

Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz and Rockville Centre, N.Y. native Crystal Dunn also found the net for the top-ranked and defending world champion Americans.

The Danes took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute off Nadia Nadim’s header. It was the 23rd international goal for Nadim, a former Sky Blue FC player who played last season for the Portland Thorns (National Women’s Soccer League).

Morgan knotted things up in the 17th minute with her 81st international goal.

Two minutes later, Ertz tallied. Ertz’s husband Zach Ertz helped the Philadelphia Eagles reach the Super Bowl with a 38-7win in the NFC championship game.

Pugh connected in the 47th minute for a 3-1 advantage before scoring again in the 65th minute.

Dunn, traded to the North Carolina Courage earlier this month, closed out the scoring in the 81st minute.

Scoring Summary: 

DEN – Nadia Nadim (Katrine Veje)         14th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Mallory Pugh)        17
USA – Julie Ertz (Tierna Davidson)        19
USA – Mallory Pugh                              47
USA – Mallory Pugh                              65
USA – Crystal Dunn                               81

USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 22-Taylor Smith (16-Emily Sonnett, 54), 14-Abby Dahlkemper (10-Carli Lloyd, 54), 17-Tierna Davidson, 5-Kelley O’Hara; 8-Julie Ertz, 9-Lindsey Horan, 6-Andi Sullivan (26-Savannah McCaskill, 70); 11-Mallory Pugh (12-Lynn Williams, 70), 13-Alex Morgan (capt.) (23-Christen Press, 70), 15-Megan Rapinoe (19-Crystal Dunn, 70)
Substitutes not used24-Ashlyn Harris
Head coach: Jill Ellis

DEN: 1-Stina Lykke Petersen; 8-Theresa Nielsen, 12-Stine Larsen, 3-Janni Arnth, 11-Katrine Veje; 13-Sofie Junge Pedersen (14-Nicoline Sørensen, 75), 4-Maja Kildemoes (6-Nanna Christiansen, 46), 15-Frederikke Thøgersen (18-Mie Leth Jans, 84), 7-Sanne Troelsgaard; 10-Pernille Harder, 9-Nadia Nadim
Substitutes not used: 22-Line Johansen, 17-Signe Bruun, 19-Cecilie Sandvej, 20-Stine Ballisager Pedersen, 21-Sarah Dyrehauge, 23-Caroline Moeller
Head coach: 
Lars Søndergaard

Stats Summary: USA / DEN
Shots: 19 / 6
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 0 / 3
Corner Kicks: 9 / 3
Fouls: 7 / 12
Offside: 2 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
DEN – Pernille Harder (caution)                                      21st minute
USA – Julie Ertz (caution)                                              74

Referee: Karen Abt (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Jennifer Garner (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Brooke Mayo (USA)
4th Official: Christina Unkel (USA)

Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan