Alex Morgan headed her 50th goal for Team USA to beat England Ladies 1-0 in Milton Keynes.
The USA dominated much of the game, with Jodie Taylor and Fran Kirby up front for England consistently out matched by taller stronger defenders for the US.
After a quiet start to the game, on the pitch and among the 14,369 strong crowd in a half full Stadiummk saw both teams feeling each other out. England’s best play coming from balls into the channels which Taylor was able to get on the end of, however support was lacking and most of these attacks quickly petered out. USA were keeping most of the possession, but without much threat.
After a long delay while injuries on both sides were attended to, the USA sharpened up in attack, and a cross from the right after a corner that wasn’t cleared saw Morgan beat England captain Steph Houghton in the air to head home. Another dangerous set piece soon after was wasted as the free kick went straight into the arms of England keeper Karen Bardsley.
The second half saw much the same pattern of play, with Morgan the class throughout. Fran Kirby, who was awarded Player of the Match in the stadium, was able to get on the ball more and looked dangerous with her opportunities. She played a big part in the highlight of the game from an England perspective; Kirby slid in to win possession before running at the defence and getting a shot off, which Ashlyn Harris saved onto the bar. Jodie Taylor followed up and had the ball in the back of the net, but this was controversially disallowed for offside.
With 10 minutes to go, both sides made a number of substitutions, with Aluko, Sanderson and Farah Williams on for England, and Crystal Dunn on for the USA. Aluko and Sanderson certainly added to England’s physical presence in attack, with Aluko in particularly posing a much greater threat. Ultimately though, England were outclassed by a United States side who will be looking to get to the late stages of this year’s World Cup in Canada. England will still be expecting to get to the knockout stages, but are unlikely to unduly worry the bigger names in Germany, France and the USA.
As for my first visit to Stadiummk, I was impressed by the layout and the quality of the area, although when half full it did lack a little atmosphere. The stadium will host games in the Rugby Union World Cup later this year, and if they sell out then I would expect it would be a venue that would suit those games, with my only concern surrounding the food and drink outlets, which were swamped at half time, even with the reduced numbers in the ground on Friday night.