On a cold Friday in front of a sold out FC Dallas Stadium, the USWNT gave the fans something to go home happy about, even if took until the 88th minute to do so. After the US gave up an early second half goal against a strong willed New Zealand team, it did not look as if this game was going to go USA's way. That was until Alex Morgan, who had been taking shots on net all match long, got a header on goal that tied the game at 1-1. At this point, another goal was unlikely, but with just seconds left in stoppage time, Morgan bravely jumped over a New Zealand defender and headed the ball into the corner of the net for the winner.
Despite the victory, it was a sloppy performance from the USWNT. Maybe this can be blamed on the cold weather or maybe they just didn't have as much drive after qualifying for the Olympics a couple of weeks ago. New Zealand is a good team unlike most of the squads the US played during the Qualifying Tournament, but the fact of the matter is that this game should have been put away as early as the 10th minute. Early on, Alex Morgan was tripped up making a run on goal in the box leading to a penalty kick. Abby Wambach took the shot, but amazingly missed wide. While penalty kicks are never a guaranteed goal, this was one the weakest shots Abby Wambach has ever taken. It almost looked as if she was trying to miss.
Alex Morgan, despite having both the equalizing and winning goals of the game, could have done a lot better and put the game away in the first half. The USWNT took a total of 15 shots, with nine of them being on goal. Morgan probably took half of those, but failed to hit the target, going just wide or skimming the top bar. Having said that, it's obvious that Morgan has been taking heading lessons. While the two headers she scored may not have been pretty, they were on target and went into the net, which is all that matters at the end of the day. Even though some of her shots missed, Morgan played with a lot of confidence this past Friday as she continues to make a strong name for herself.
On a goalkeeping note, Hope Solo played the first half the game, increasing her scoreless streak to 495 minutes. Philadelphia Independence's own Nicole Barnhart played the second half of the game, giving up New Zealand's lone goal of the day. This was Barnhart's 42nd career appearance for the USWNT and just her first game played of 2012.
The USWNT are now 6-0-0 in 2012, powering through with loads of confidence going into London this July. The US women will now travel to Portugal for the 19th annual Algarve Cup on February 29th. The team will be playing in Group B which means that there is going to be a World Cup Final rematch game as Japan is playing in the same group. Japan and the United States are joined in Group B by Denmark and Norway. No television networks have been announced thus far, but stay tuned to the Brotherly Game for more details on the Algarve Cup as it becomes available.