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Alex Morgan Scores Twice, USWNT Blanks Haiti in CONCACAF Group Play Opener

The U.S. women hope to secure berths into the 2023 World Cup and '24 Olympics.

Alex Morgan scored twice in a span of seven minutes in the first half and the U.S. women’s national soccer team beat Haiti 3-0 in its group-stage opener of the CONCACAF W Championship in 99-degree temperatures at Monterrey, Mexico.

For Morgan, the 33-year-old former Cal star, it was her 29th career multi-goal game for the USWNT and the latest evidence of her resurgent play this season.

Morgan opened the scoring with a heel-flick goal off a pass from Mallory Pugh that eluded Haitian goalkeeper Lara Larco at the 16-minute mark.

At 23 minutes, she scored on a header off an assist fro Kelley O’Hara, giving her squad a 2-0 lead that remained unchanged until Margaret Purce scored at 84 minutes.

Alex Morgan vs. Haiti

Alex Morgan, right, and Margaret Purce

Morgan scored her 116th and 117th international goals. Her 29 career multi-goal games is third-most in U.S. history. She also has 21 goals in 21 career qualifying games and has scored at least once in each of the past five CONCACAF qualifying games.

The U.S. returns to action Thursday against Jamaica with the chance to possibly clinch a top-two spot in Group A and secure a ticket to the 2023 FIFA World Cup. A victory in this event clinches a direct bid to the 2024 Olympics.

The CONCACAF qualifying events brings together top teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Haiti has never qualified for a World Cup or an Olympics. The U.S. most recently played Jamaica in June of 2021, winning 4-0 in a friendly.

Morgan, who just missed a third goal with a header off the post, was more interested afterward in talking about the team’s performance.

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It was important, she said, “to get in front early against a really athletic team, a team that as the game wears on if you don't get one early, it could be more of a physical match.

”I was happy to get on the scoresheet early. We had a couple of offside goals, so I think we can be a little cleaner. I think it's a long tournament so I think it's a good start overall.”

Morgan, who leads the NWSL in scoring, demonstrated her value to the team, although it’s possible Ashley Hatch could draw the starting assignment on Thursday as part of the normal lineup rotation.

U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski singled out Morgan in his post-game remarks and was pleased with the outcome. 

"On the other side, we gave up a lot of opportunities, gave up a penalty kick. That's something we're going to have to do better and tie up a few things for the next game,'' Andonovski said.

Reporters who covered the event agreed. The Sporting News wrote the game “was a lot closer than anyone expected, and it's a clear sign that this qualifying tournament won't be a cakewalk.”

Haiti missed a chance to score when Roselord Borgella hit the upright with a penalty kick.

Goalkeeper Casey Murphy, who was a surprise starter for the U.S. in place of Alyssa Naeher, delivered a huge ave in the 37th minute, depriving Melchie Dumornay on a 1-on-1 opportunity.

The U.S. will face Jamaica without Megan Rapinoe, who made an appearance as a second-half sub in this game but will be at the White House on Thursday to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Cover file photo of Alex Morgan by Ray Acevedo, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo