ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – If professional women’s soccer fever is about to descend on Orlando, the city got a great first taste of it.
Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn and Stephanie McCaffrey scored to help the U.S women’s team beat Brazil 3-1 in an exhibition game Sunday before an announced crowd of 32,869 at the Orlando Citrus.
The U.S. extended its home undefeated streak to 102 games with the win on its World Cup victory tour. The Americans tied Brazil 1-1 in Seattle on Wednesday night.
Morgan scored in the ninth minute off a pass in the box from midfielder Tobin Heath to put the U.S. ahead.
Brazil’s Cristiane tied it in the 45th minute. But a minute later, the U.S. went back up for good after Lindsey Horan took Meghan Klingenberg’s corner kick and tapped it to Dunn, who then slipped it past Luciana. McCaffrey added another goal just before the final horn.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis said she wasn’t surprised that the team was able to bounce back from needing a late goal to force a 1-1 draw in their matchup with Brazil last week in Seattle.
“The culture and the expectation and the competitiveness without our team, I don’t think it ever allows us to be complacent,” Ellis said.
For the second straight match, the U.S. team bid farewell to retiring players. Sunday was the final international match for 29-year-old U.S. midfielder Lauren Holiday and 31-year-old defender Lori Chalupny. Holiday finished with 133 national team caps, and Chalupny had 106.
Morgan easily got the loudest ovation from the Citrus Bowl crowd when her name was announced during pregame warmups.
She then ignited the crowd early when she split a pair of defenders before maneuvering outside of Brazilian keeper Luciana to get a clear shot.
“I’m happy with my performance,” Morgan said. “I took a look back at the last game and looked at things I could have done better, the execution and all of that. So I feel like I connected with Tobin. I feel like I had a lot of good chances. Brazil is a really good team and has been in residency training together. We haven’t necessarily been training together since the World Cup. So today as a good showing and just a little bit of what we’re going to expect next year in the Olympics.”
The goal by Morgan could have been a preview of sorts for the hometown Orlando crowd.
Morgan was the center of reports last week that she could soon be dealt from the National Women’s Soccer League’s Portland Thorns to the expansion Orlando Pride, which begins play next year.
Neither team has confirmed the deal, but the Pride has a news conference scheduled for Monday. Morgan’s husband, Servando Carrasco, plays for Major League Soccer’s Orlando City.
When asked about the potential deal on Saturday Morgan said only that there were on-going negotiations, though she acknowledged having met Orlando ownership through Carrasco, and praised the budding soccer culture in Orlando.
She said playing Sunday that playing in front of the Orlando fans only crystallized that belief.
“To have 33,000 fans was a huge showing and just a huge representation for what this city can bring for the women’s team – the Orlando Pride – so that’s really exciting for us to see a new team coming into the NWSL,” Morgan said.
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