By Gary R. Blockus | Oct. 20, 2017, 1:45 a.m. (ET)
Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring a goal against the Korea Republic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Oct. 19, 2017 in New Orleans.

 

U.S. Olympians Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe scored goals as the United States put on a dominating performance to open back-to-back friendlies against South Korea with a 3-1 victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Thursday night.

Morgan and Rapinoe won gold medals with Team USA at the Olympic Games London 2012, while Ertz made her Olympic debut last year in Rio.

Ertz broke a scoreless tie in the 24th minute after the U.S. responded to a brief sustained offensive attack by the Koreans, which generated three quick chances in the 20th minute, but couldn’t really get a shot on U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher.

Rapinoe sent a corner kick in to Ertz at the near post, who headed the ball into the far netting in the 24th minute. It was the third goal for Ertz in her last three games. The assist gave Rapinoe 42 for her career, tying her for 10th on the all-time U.S. list with Aly Wagner.

Alex Morgan made it 2-0 after a beautiful run on the end line by Kelley O’Hara off a feed down the right touchline from Mallory Pugh. O’Hara managed to keep the ball in bounds and served it to Morgan in tight for the goal in the 40th minute, giving Morgan goals in four straight games and a team-leading five this year.

Pugh, 19, was injured four minutes later on a tackle attempt, grabbing at her right hamstring as she went down. She left the game at that point with Lynn Williams entering the game in relief.

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South Korea cut the U.S. lead in half in extra time at the end of the opening half on a long, powerful shot by Han Chaerin, splitting three U.S. defenders to take the shot.

Rapinoe earned a penalty kick going after a pass in the box from Williams in the 49th minute. She buried the ensuing penalty attempt to the left side of Kang Gaae, who guessed wrong and dived the opposite way.

Carli Lloyd returned to action for Team USA for the first time since injuring her ankle in August while playing with the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League. She entered the game as a substitute in the 77th minute.

The teams square off again in the second of the two friendlies 2 p.m. Sunday at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. Team USA is 8-0-2 all-time against Korea Republic.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.