FOOTBALL: Allie Long and Mallory Pugh score as U.S. women ease past Korea, 2-0, for Victory Tour win no. 4

American striker Mallory Pugh

After a month off, the U.S. women’s Victory Tour continued in muggy Charlotte, North Carolina with the first of two games vs. South Korea. The American side was in better health than for the first three games, as Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle joined the action as starters.

The U.S. had the best chances in the first half, but failed to convert after hitting the ball over the goal, pounding the crossbar and missing on crosses into the box, plus a save from keeper Minjung Kim.

Two minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the half, but in the third minute, Rapinoe was allowed to take a free kick from the right side of the field. She sent an arching ball between the player wall and the goal and Allie Long simply tipped it with her left foot and the ball sailed into the net for a 1-0 lead.

The Koreans wanted to know why there was extra-extra time added and, for good measure, replay appeared to show Long offsides. The half ended on the ensuring kickoff. The U.S. had 51% possession and out-shot Korea, 8-2.

The second half was more of the same. Carli Lloyd hit the crossbar in 49th minute and sub Christen Press got three consecutive shots in the 70th minute, running past the keeper but then shooting toward an open goal and hitting the post, shot the rebound in and that was kicked away by a Korean defender and then had a third shot blocked.

Finally, Mallory Pugh stood unmarked in the six-year box in the 76th minute, right in front of the goal. On a corner kick, Rapinoe didn’t miss her and Pugh headed the ball in for a 2-0 advantage.

The crowd of 30,071 at Bank of America Stadium was loud and appreciative, even though the U.S. was hardly sharp. But it was the fourth straight win for the U.S. women on the Victory Tour, all shut-outs, by 3-0 vs. Ireland, 4-0 and 3-0 over Portugal and 2-0 on Thursday (aggregate: 12-0).

The U.S. ended with 52% possession in the game and a 19-5 edge in shots. Ashlyn Harris got credit for the clean sheet in goal; the U.S. now has a streak of 521 minutes dating back to the 19th minute of the World Cup semifinal vs. England.

Coach Jill Ellis earned her 106th victory for the U.S., a new record and breaking the tie she had with the late Tony DiCicco (1995-99).

There’s one more game on the Victory Tour, again vs. Korea in Chicago on Sunday (6th).