The game between the U.S. Women’s National Team and Mexico on Sunday, April 8, 2018, in Houston was a roller coaster of a ride featuring many highlights, and in the end, highly entertaining and historic.
There was a goal after 129 seconds. A Gol Olimpico. A comeback. A milestone. A brace. Three first caps. A player playing against very familiar foes. And a player with four assists, one short of the WNT record.
It was a wild afternoon, and with so much going on, we wouldn’t blame you if you missed one of the many remarkable moments of the day.
So, here’s a breakdown of some of the fun stuff that went down at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday afternoon:
100 GOALS FOR NO. 10
The day was highlighted by Carli Lloyd’s 100th international goal, a momentous achievement that had previously been reached in U.S. Soccer history by only five other women: Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett and Abby Wambach. It was also Lloyd’s 11th career goal against Mexico.
Lloyd started the match, her 252nd cap, and almost immediately had a golden chance to get number 100, but a spectacular save from Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago delayed history just a bit longer.
But Lloyd seemed destined to get to the century mark in Houston, where she used to play for the Houston Dash, and in the 34th minute the opportunity literally landed in front of her.
Lloyd Gets to the Century Mark
Megan Rapinoe worked her way free of a few defenders on the left flank and crossed the ball. It flew through the goal mouth to the right side of the penalty area where it was run down by Lindsey Horan, who lifted a cross back into the middle. It deflected off the hand of Santiago And Alex Morgan got a good piece of the falling ball on the volley, but it went straight up in the air and, and with an awkward spin, bounced near the goal line and back out of the goal. Lloyd was on the spot and timed it perfectly to head the ball home from close range off the bounce.
Lloyd’s goal made the score 3-2, pulling the USA ahead again after it had gone down 2-1 early in the game. It also capped an impressive run to 100 goals for Lloyd, who scored 36 goals between the time she debuted six days before her 23rd birthday and her 30th birthday. Since turning 30, she has scored 64 goals in 117 games in just under six years.
RAPINOE: YOU GET A GOAL, YOU GET A GOAL, EVERYONE GETS A GOAL!
Megan Rapinoe has played 135 games for the U.S. WNT, yet throughout her stellar career, the 32-year-old had never had more than two assists in a single game.
That changed on Sunday when she doubled that mark and almost tied a long-standing U.S. WNT record of five assists held by Tiffeny Milbrett, achieved in 1997 against Australia.
Rapinoe had four assists and one goal vs. Mexico on April 8
Rapinoe was credited with four assists and a goal in the 6-2 victory against Mexico. She was also involved in the play that led to the other goal, which means that she was involved in all six scores. She was of course named the Woman of the Match and now leads the team with five assists in 2018.
Rapinoe’s historic day upped her career totals to 36 international goals, 15th all-time for the U.S. WNT, and 49 international assists, good for ninth all-time, one behind Lloyd’s 50.
TWO GAMES. TWO BRACES.
Alex Morgan has scored 12 goals in her last 13 U.S. WNT games, dating to Aug. 3, 2017 vs. Japan.
Morgan notched her 18th career two-goal game on Thursday, April 5 against Mexico in Jacksonville. Three days later, she went for two more and now has 19 braces in her career and 22 multi-goal games.
Morgan has scored 85 international goals
The 28-year-old, who has 140 caps and 85 goals, is tied with Mallory Pugh for the team-lead with five goals so far in 2018.
Morgan’s last had consecutive braces came in 2012. In fact, she had three in a row – on Jan. 29 vs. Canada, Feb. 11 vs. New Zealand and on Feb. 29 vs. Denmark.
THREE FIRST CAPS
Amongst the goals and excitement on Sunday, it was also a special day for defenders Hailie Mace and Tegan McGrady, and midfielder Haley Hanson, who all earned their first caps with the senior WNT.
Hanson, who plays her club soccer for the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium, entered the match in the 40th minute to replace an injured Lindsey Horan, while McGrady and Mace, rising seniors at Stanford and UCLA, respectively, subbed on in the 58 and 59th minutes for Tierna Davidson and Mallory Pugh.
McGrady, Mace and Hanson
With Sunday’s three first cappers, U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis has now given first caps to five players in 2018 (the other two are Davidson and Savannah McCaskill), and 18 players total since October of 2016.
The game vs. Mexico on April 8 marked the first time since Oct. 19, 2016 (when five players earned first caps) that more than two players earned their first caps in a single game.
HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT A COMEBACK
The USA opened the scoring quickly against Mexico on April 8 with Mallory Pugh notching her fifth goal of 2018 in just the third minute. But Mexico regrouped and scored back-to-back goals off Monica Ocampo corner kicks – one of them a classic Goal Olimpico – to take the lead in the 24th minute. The two goals marked only the third time that Mexico had scored multiple goals against the U.S. in a match, and the first time since Nov. 5, 2010.
The lead did not last long.
Lindsey Horan's towering header made the game 2-2 in the 25th minute
A minute later after Mexico went up 2-1, Megan Rapinoe’s cross off a corner kick was perfectly headed home by Lindsey Horan, tying the match 2-2 in the 25th minute and kicking off the comeback. The USA went on to score four more goals and sweep Mexico in the two-game set of friendlies,improving its record to 34-1-1 all-time against its Concacaf foe.
SOFIA HUERTA MAKES HISTORY
Entering in the 75th minute of the game vs. Mexico in place of Emily Sonnett, Sofia Huerta etched her name in history as the first U.S. WNT player to play for Mexico against the USA and for the USA against Mexico.
Huerta played for Mexico at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (scoring three goals), and earned five caps for the senior team – all in friendly matches, which included one against the USA.
Huerta is the first player in WNT history to play for the USA and against the USA, versus Mexico and for Mexico, respectively.
Conversations to switch associations started between Huerta – who was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and attended college at Santa Clara – and the WNT staff in late summer 2017 as she was enjoying another fine season with the Red Stars. U.S. head coach Jill Ellis wanted to bring her into camp to train with the team and Huerta accepted with no promises of making any rosters or getting playing time. U.S. Soccer then began the process of requesting a one-time change of national association with FIFA.
On Sept. 14, 2017, FIFA had approved the change, which meant Huerta was immediately eligible to play for the USA. She earned her first cap for the USA a day later when she came on as a substitute in the 51st minute in the game vs. New Zealand in Colorado.