By Gary R. Blockus | Sept. 19, 2017, 11:42 p.m. (ET)
Alex Morgan celebrates after scoring a goal in the second half of the match against New Zealand at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 19, 2017 in Cincinnati.

 

Alex Morgan scored a pair of goals in the second half as the U.S. women’s soccer team blanked New Zealand 5-0 in front of 30,596 fans at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati to sweep a two-game friendly series.

In an almost carbon copy repeat of the first game in the series, the U.S. bolted out to a 2-0 first-half lead, this time scoring in the 36th and 44th minutes.

Lindsey Horan scored the opening goal, going high to beat two New Zealand defenders with an arching header that went over the outstretched hands of leaping New Zealand goalie Erin Naylor. It was Horan’s fourth career goal.

Mallory Pugh, who had an assist in the 3-1 win in the opening game of the series on Sept. 15, scored her sixth career goal to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Pugh, 19, careened it into goal off the near post, beating a pair of defenders down the right side on a well-timed through ball from Horan.

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Morgan, the captain, wasted no time sparking the team in the second half, scoring in the 46th minute from wide on the left near the goal line, beating Naylor to the near post yet again. Morgan’s 76th career goal moved her into seventh place all-time in U.S. history.

Lynn Williams, who did not suit up for the Sept. 15 game, made it 4-0 in the 55th minute after starting the attack herself down the right wing. She dished the ball off then worked her way to the center of the 6-yard box to blast a header into the netting.

Morgan closed things out with her second goal of the game, third of the series and 77th for the national team with a left-footer from inside the 6-yard box, beating Naylor to the left post once again in the 69th minute.

The U.S. is now 14-1-1 all time against New Zealand. The U.S. was once again without Carli Lloyd, who is nursing an ankle injury suffered while playing for the Houston Dash of the NWSL.

The U.S. women have now played 12 games this season and will play four more this fall, including Oct. 19 and 22 against South Korea and Nov. 9 and 12 against Canada. The games against South Korea will be played in New Orleans and Cary, North Carolina, and the games against Canada will take place in Vancouver and San Jose, California.

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.