WNT Beats Reigning EURO Runners-up Denmark 5-1 in Thrilling 2018 Opener

The U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off its 2018 campaign with a powerful, come-from-behind 5-1 against reigning EURO Women’s runners-up Denmark in front of 17,526 fans at SDCCU Stadium on Sunday night. Mallory Pugh scored her first career brace, while Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz and Crystal Dunn also added goals.
U.S. WNT - Mal Pugh
U.S. WNT - Mal Pugh

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off its 2018 campaign with a powerful, come-from-behind 5-1 against reigning EURO Women’s runner-up Denmark in front of 17,526 fans at SDCCU Stadium on Sunday night.

Denmark got on the board early with a set-piece goal from Nadia Nadim in the 14th minute, but the USA quickly responded when Mallory Pugh connected with Alex Morgan for the game-tying score in the 17th minute. Julie Ertz then made it 2-1 in the 19th minute, and the USA carried the in to the half time break.

In the second half, Pugh added two goals – her first career brace – after taking advantage of a pair of defensive mishaps from Denmark, and Crystal Dunn wrapped up the scoring to give the U.S. the 5-1 win.

Next, the U.S. WNT will host the third annual SheBelieves Cup, the most elite four-team tournament in the world, that includes third-ranked England, second-ranked Germany and sixth-ranked France, from March 1-7 in Columbus, Ohio, Harrison, New Jersey, and Orlando, Florida.

Goal Scoring Rundown:

DEN – Nadia Nadim (Katrine Veje), 14th: Veje’s corner kick sailed to the far post where Nadim jumped high to head to the ball to the back of the net for the opening goal of the match. USA 0, DEN 1

USA – Alex Morgan (Mallory Pugh), 17th minute:
Pugh shook off Veje and drove towards the six-yard box where she crossed to the ball to an incoming Morgan, who did well to tap it in before the goalkeeper had a chance to get to it. USA 1, DEN 1 GOAL

USA – Julie Ertz (Tierna Davidson), 19th minute: Abby Dalhkemper’s lofted pass into the 18-yard box was received by Tierna Davidson, who out-jumped every other player in the box to head it into the six-yard box where Ertz finished with a looping, right-footed volley for her first goal of 2018. USA 2, DEN 1 GOAL

USA – Mallory Pugh, 47th: Denmark’s Sofia Pedersen had a defensive mishap in the back which resulted in Pugh taking advantage of the slow-rolling ball to go alone at the goal, beat a defender and crush a shot from about 10 yards out for her first of the night. USA 3, DEN 1 GOAL

USA – Mallory Pugh, 65th: Another mistake for Denmark, this time from goalkeeper Stina Petersen, resulted in a goal for Pugh, who brought down the goal kick with her body and drove forward, excellently splitting two defenders before slotting the ball into the lower right corner for her second of the night. USA 4, DEN 1 GOAL

USA – Crystal Dunn, 81st minute: After Christen Press’ shot got blocked by the goalkeeper, Dunn received the rebound right in the middle of the box to sent it to the back of the net for the final U.S. goal of the game. USA 5, DEN 1 GOAL FINAL

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Additional Notes:

  • Alex Morgan scored her 81st international goal in her 135th cap. At age 28 sits in sole possession of seventh place on the USA's all-time goal scoring list. She scored seven goals over her last seven WNT matches of 2017, and continuer her streak today, scoring the game-tying goal in the first half to make it eight goals in her last eight games.
  • Mallory Pugh started today at the stadium where she scored in her senior team debut (the 19th U.S. WNT player to score in her first cap) on Jan. 23, 2016, vs. Ireland at 17 years, 8 months and 25 days old, becoming the youngest player to debut for the U.S. in the last 11 years. Tonight, the 19-year-old scored two goals – her first career brace – and had an assist in what was her 30th cap for the WNT. She now has eight career goals and 12 career assists. Pugh owns the lead as the player with the most assists before the age of 20 in U.S. history.
  • Julie Ertz earned her 58th cap tonight. Ertz scored her 15th career goal for the WNT tonight, with 13 of them coming directly from or originating from set pieces. Ertz, who began playing as a defensive midfielder for the WNT during the 2017 Tournament of Nations, quickly excelled at the role and was later named the 2017 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. She finished 2017 with six goals, second-most on the team. Today, both she and her husband – Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz – were playing almost concurrently, with both earning big wins for their teams. Julie helped the U.S. kick-start the year on a positive note, while Zach helped the Eagles earn a berth to Super Bowl LII.
  • Tierna Davidson earned her first cap for the USA today, becoming the 21st player to make a WNT debut under Jill Ellis. Davidson earned her first career assist tonight. On Monday, the 19-year-old Stanford sophomore, who was named to the roster for the 2018 CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship, will depart for Trinidad & Tobago to join the U-20 WNT as the USA competes to earn a berth to the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Davidson helped lead Stanford to the NCAA Championship this past season. She is the third teenager since 2013 to earn a first cap for the U.S. WNT. Mallory Pugh (17 in 2016) and Lindsey Horan (19 in 2013) are the most recent teenagers to debut for the WNT.
  • Ellis made all six substitutions tonight: Carli Lloyd came in for Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett for Taylor Smith, Savannah McCaskill for Andi Sullivan, Lynn Williams for Mallory Pugh, Christen Press for Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn for Megan Rapinoe.
  • Crystal Dunn scored her 23rd career goal tonight. On January 16, it was announced Dunn will return to the NWSL and play for the North Carolina Courage during the 2017 season. The Courage acquired her rights from the Washington Spirit for Taylor Smith and Ashley Hatch.
  • Savannah McCaskill, who was taken second overall in the 2018 NWSL College Draft by the Boston Breakers, earned her first cap tonight, becoming the 22nd woman to earn a first cap under Jill Ellis. This was her first extended training time with the WNT. She led South Carolina to the NCAA College Cup with eight goals and nine assists on the year.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Denmark
Date: Jan. 21, 2018
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: SDCCU Stadium; San Diego, California
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. PT
Attendance: 17,526
Weather:  61 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary:      1          2          F
USA                             2          3          5                     
DEN                             1          0          1                     

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 used: 24-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)                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan