WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Alex Morgan was back at work in practice Tuesday morning after the United States defeated Australia to open the World Cup the night before.
Morgan was a late sub in the match as she works her way back from a bone bruise in her left knee. While many of the players who logged big minutes against the Matildas were given the training off, Morgan is still working her way back to game shape.
“I feel really good, I had no pain whatsoever,” Morgan said after the game. “Obviously I was running down balls a lot and trying to keep possession, and making sure we kept the 3-1 lead. So I was getting a lot of max sprints out of me. I felt good and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting more time next game.”
Next up for the second-ranked United States is the highly anticipated match against No. 5 Sweden and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage on Friday night.
Morgan hadn’t played in a game since April 11, when she started for the Portland Thorns of the NWSL in the team’s season opener. She missed all three send-off matches in the United States before the team arrived in Canada for the monthlong World Cup.
Morgan, who grabbed attention as a super sub at the 2011 World Cup in Germany, has struggled with injuries for the past year.
She sat out nine games with the Thorns last season because of a left ankle sprain she sustained in national team training camp in October 2013. She returned to action for the Thorns in June, then reinjured the ankle last fall during a group stage match of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which served as qualifying for the World Cup.
She did not return until this year, scoring in a 1-0 victory over England in February and in a 3-0 win over Switzerland in an Algarve Cup match in March. The speedy 25-year-old has 51 goals in 85 international appearances.
MARVELOUS MARTA: Marta scored on a penalty kick in Brazil’s 2-0 victory Tuesday over South Korea, setting a record for goals scored at the World Cup.
The second-half goal was Marta’s 15th, most by any player in soccer’s premier tournament. She entered the game tied with Germany’s Birgit Prinz.
Although she’s only 29, this is Marta’s fourth World Cup. She is widely considered to be among the game’s best female players ever. She’s won FIFA Player of the Year honors five times, something no other player has ever done.
You certainly don’t have to tell her coach how good she is.
“Marta is just as important for us as Neymar is for the men,” Brazil coach Vadao said before the meeting with South Korea.
Marta was not Brazil’s only record-breaker on Tuesday. Formiga tied Japan’s Homare Sawa by playing in her sixth overall World Cup competition, and became the oldest woman ever to score a goal (at 37) with her first-half score.
The Brazilians have been to every World Cup since its start for the women in 1991. The team’s best finish came in 2007, when it advanced to the championship match but fell to Germany, 2-0.
GOAL-LINE TECHNOLOGY: This is the first Women’s World Cup to have goal-line technology available, and it got its first use on Tuesday during Mexico’s 1-1 draw against Colombia.
The Hawk-Eye system trains seven cameras on each goal. If there’s a score, a signal is transmitted to a watch worn by each match official.
The system did its job on Veronica Perez’s goal for Las Tri from a seemingly impossible corner angle in the 36th minute. Colombia goalkeeper Stefany Castano pushed the ball onto the crossbar, but it crossed the line as it came down.
TUESDAY’S RECAP: In addition to Brazil’s 2-0 tournament-opening win over South Korea, Spain and Costa Rica played to 1-1 draw in the earlier Group E match at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
In Group F play in Moncton, New Brunswick, Mexico tied Colombia 1-1, and France defeated England 1-0 on Eugenie Le Sommer’s first-half goal.
WHAT’S NEXT: Now that all 24 teams at the World Cup have opened the group stage, the tournament takes a day off on Wednesday.
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