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U.S. women open with dominant win over Japan; play in East Hartford Sunday

KANSAS CITY, July 26 – The U.S. women’s national soccer team opened its 2018 Tournament of Nations schedule with a dominant 4-2 win over Japan – its biggest rival over the past decade – before a rocking sellout crowd of 18,467 fans at Children’s Mercy Park.

Alex Morgan had her fourth career hat trick as the Americans remained unbeaten in their last 17 matches (15-0-2).

The tournament moves to East Hartford and Rentschler Field on Sunday. The United States will host Australia at 7 p.m. with Brazil and Japan playing in the early game at 4:15 p.m.

Morgan has now scored 16 goals in her last 16 games with the national team.

In the 18th minute, the United States struck first, with a textbook play between Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe and Morgan for the opening score of the match.

Press had an excellent run from the right wing as she sprinted centrally and slipped a slick through ball to Rapinoe on the left side. Rapinoe got a step on her defender and sent a left-footed cross into the center of the box where Morgan timed her run perfectly to push the ball into the left side of the net with a defender on her back.

Japan however, responded quickly two minutes later with a quality chance, finding open space up front and chipping a ball over U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (Stratford) to tie the match.

Ten minutes later, it was Morgan again who found herself in the right spot and headed home her second goal to give the USA a lead they would not relinquish.

Morgan completed her hat trick in the second half. Second half substitute Tobin Heath pulled off a spectacular sequence of dribbles down the right side, beating two Japan defenders and eventually burst free down the end line towards goal before crossing into the middle. Japan failed to clear and the ball bounced directly to Morgan who brought the ball down with her left knee and then smashed her shot into the roof of the net with her left foot from six yards out.

Rapinoe added a fourth for the U.S. before Japan’s Moeno Sakaguchi pulled one back for the final 4-2 score line.

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. Kerr effectively put the game away early in the second half with a brilliant finish of a counter-attack down the right side.

United States 4, Japan 2
At Kansas City
USA                          2  2 – 4
Japan                       1  1 – 2
Goals: USA – Alex Morgan (Megan Rapinoe) 18th minute; JPN – Mina Tanaka (Yui Hasegawa) 20; USA – Alex Morgan (Emily Sonnett) 26; USA – Alex Morgan 56; USA – Megan Rapinoe 66; JPN – Moeno Sakaguchi (Rika Masuya) 76; Saves: Alyssa Naehring (USA) 1; Shots: USA, 15-11; Shots on goal, USA, 7-3; Corner kicks: USA 2-1

2018 Tournament of Nations
Wednesday’s results
United States 4, Japan 2
Australia 3, Brazil 1
Sunday’s matches
At East Hartford
Brazil vs. Japan, 4:15 p.m.
United States vs. Australia, 7 p.m.

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