The United States capped their two-match trip to Europe with a 1-0 win over England on Friday night. It wasn't an especially pretty match, and it won't have the Americans feeling like they're ready to compete for the Women's World Cup title in June, but Alex Morgan's goal -- and some shoddy refereeing -- proved to be enough to at least get them the right result.
The U.S. really struggled in the early going, launching long balls and completely bypassing the midfield with little success. They didn't utilize Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, while the team also had no width. It was not a good start for a team that was desperate to get things going in the right direction after a loss to France.
Then, out of nowhere, Morgan put the U.S. in front. It's probably not a surprise that it came because Holiday was forward from a set piece, the ball got wide and the midfielder played a cross in, but it finally happened and it worked. Her ball found the head of Morgan, whose good header found the back of the net, and the Americans were in front.
Things got better for the U.S. after their goal. They were able to keep more of the ball, integrated the midfield more and began to take control of the match. England really struggled, looking a combination of out-matched and tired, which was fine for the U.S. They kept the ball, although they still didn't use the wings well, couldn't go through the middle and too often relied on trying to find their forwards' heads.
But while the Americans were better as the match went on, they shouldn't have won. A long shot by England clipped the crossbar and came down in front of goal, where the Lionesses were waiting to knock the ball into the open net for an equalizer. The crowd cheered, England celebrated and it was 1-1, only the assistant referee had her offside flag up. Replays showed that there was no offside on the play and the U.S. was just beaten, but the Americans benefitted from the bad call and that earned them a 1-0 win.