Alex Morgan celebrates one of her three goals with his teammates. (Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Alex Morgan recorded a hat-trick to power the United States to a 4-2 triumph over Japan in the opening game for both squads at the 2018 Tournament of Nations at Children’s Mercy Park Thursday night.
The 29-year-old Morgan earned her 20th career brace tonight and her fourth career hat-trick. She has 89 international goals and 23 multi-goal games. Moran, who sits in sole possession of seventh place on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list, has tallied 16 goals over her last 16 internationals matches. She leads the WNT with nine goals this year.
The first few minutes saw both teams go back-and-forth, with each having a few chances to break through and push forward. In the 18th minute, the hosts struck first, with a textbook play between Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe and Morgan before a crowd of 18,467.
Japan however, responded two minutes later with a quality chance, finding open space up front and chipping a ball over goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to equalize.
Ten minutes later, it was Morgan again who found herself in the right spot as she headed home her second goal to give the Americans a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. Morgan completed her hat-trick in the second half, and Rapinoe added a fourth for the U.S. before Japan’s Moeno Sakaguchi pulled one back.
In the first game of the day, Australia put in a solid all-around performance to defeat Brazil, 3-1.
Both of Australia’s first half goals came off corner kicks, in the ninth and 38th minute, and both came courtesy of some assistance from Brazilian defender Poliana, who scored the first with her head for an own goal and then failed to clear the second. It was Marta and Debinha that combined for Brazil’s lone goal in the 79th minute. Sam Kerr effectively put the game away early in the second half with a brilliant finish of a counter-attack down the right side.
The U.S. and Australia won their opening games and sit atop the standings with three points each, but the Americans are ahead on the tiebreaker due to scoring four goals compared to Australia’s three.
The tournament moves to East Hartford, Conne. for the second set of games on Sunday, July 29. Brazil will take on Japan (4:15 p.m. ET; Live on ussoccer.com), while the U.S. faces Australia at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.
2018 Tournament of Nations Standings