Sophia Smith celebrates her equalizing goal. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
The U.S. women’s national team overcame a one-goal deficit in the second half and recorded a 2-1 win over Germany in an international friendly that snapped a three-game losing streak at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on Sunday night.
The Americans had dropped three consecutive matches entering the contest, its longest losing streak in almost 30 years, in 1993.
The USA struck twice within a two-minute span early in the second half before a crowd of 26,317.
Sophia Smith, who has become the USWNT’s No. 1 scoring threat, equalized in the 54th minute before Mallory Pugh scored the game-winner in the 56th minute.
The U.S. had dropped a 2-1 decision to Germany in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Thursday night.
Germany struck first in the 18th minute as forward Jule Brand swept home a loose ball deep inside the penalty area to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The U.S. picked up its intensity following the goal and began to carve out more opportunities in the final 15 fifteen minutes of the half, but failed to tie things up..
The Americans’ intensity remained early in the second half before grabbing the lead.
First, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher dashed off her line to snare the ball on a slide and deny halftime substitute Lina Magull. Moments later, midfielder Rose Lavelle fed the ball to Smith, the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League MVP, just outside the penalty area on the right side. Smith dribbled through a forest of Germany defenders before unleashing a rocket into the top left corner in the 54th minute. Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult got her hand on the ball but could not turn the blast away.
The goal was Smith’s team-leading 11th of of the year and the 12th of her career as the 22-year-old forward finished as the team’s top goal-scorer this year. She is the youngest player to lead the USA in scoring in a calendar year since a 21-year-old Mia Hamm paced the team in 1993, seven years before Smith was born.
Only two minutes and 28 seconds later, Pugh’s speed put her in alone on goal after Andi Sullivan won the ball in midfield, which gave her the chance to get behind the German defense. The young winger dribbled into the penalty area and tucked the ball past Schult into the lower left corner for a 2-1 advantage.
As the final whistle approached, head coach Vlatko Andonovski went to his bench, making three substitute in the final seven minutes to shore up the side.
When Taylor Kornieck came in for Alex Morgan in the 83rd minute, the crowd cheered the veteran forward, who made her 200th international appearance. Morgan, who debuted for the USA in 2010, became the 13th player in program history to reach the 200-cap milestone. She had a great chance to score before exiting as another transition attack by the USA proved highly dangerous. Pugh played her into the left side of the penalty area, but left-footed shot from a sharp angle was well-saved by Schult.
The USA will break for the holidays before returning to action with a January training camp in New Zealand where the team will play two friendlies against the 2023 Women’s World Cup co-hosts Football Ferns on Jan. 18 in Wellington and Jan. 21 in Auckland.