Watch the highlights of goals as the U.S. women's national team edges Portugal in a friendly.

By Avi Creditor
November 08, 2018

The U.S. women's national team reached a milestone in unconvincing fashion on Thursday in Portugal.

A goal from Jessica McDonald late in the first half proved to be the difference, as the U.S. women won their 500th match in program history with the 1-0 win in a friendly in Estoril. The U.S. women, dominant en route to capturing the Concacaf Women's Championship and a place in the 2019 Women's World Cup, improved to 17-0-2 in 2018 and extended their unbeaten streak to 27 match (24-0-3) dating back to July 2017.

It wasn't the high-octane performance we've come to expect from Jill Ellis's side, which did feature a mixture of regular faces and new starters in the XI. The U.S. attack was wasteful throughout and got off to a slow start, at least by the standards it set in the Concacaf tournament, when it made a habit of scoring early. The best early chance came on a 10th-minute set piece, when Megan Rapinoe lofted a free kick toward the far post, where Lindsey Horan was unmarked. The Portland Thorns star whiffed on her volley attempt, though, keeping the score 0-0.

Rapinoe came up with the USA's next great chance in the 15th minute off another set piece, curling and dipping a free kick from 25 yards just over the crossbar.

Rapinoe was at it again in the 34th minute, setting up Alex Morgan's lineup replacement, McDonald, for what surely should have been the opening goal. The unmarked forward, 10 yards out, scuffed her first-time chance and hooked it wide of the mark.

Portugal conceded possession for much of the half but had a pair of dangerous chances in the 38th and 40th minutes, the latter a header across goal from Tatiana Pinto that missed the post by inches.

Portugal was made to pay for its wasted opportunities two minutes later. Crystal Dunn, playing uncharacteristically as a right-sided fullback, sent in a ball for McDonald, who had her initial chance saved. The clearance attempt bounced off McDonald and in, though, giving the U.S. a 1-0 lead. 

Rapinoe had another would-be assist go by the wayside minutes into the second half, when she teed up Rose Lavelle from the left side. Like McDonald before her, Lavelle failed to steer the golden chance from inside the box on frame, instead skying it over the bar.

The wastefulness continued in the 52nd minute, when Dunn, back on her more accustomed left side, sent in a dangerous cross. It was parried right to Horan just inside the box, but she uncorked a first-time volley that also sent the ball well over the bar on a clean look at goal.

Portugal found more of the game over the next 15 minutes, and while it didn't fully test goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, it did force the U.S. starter into a nervy moment, when she hesitated coming off her line to handle a bounding ball, fortunately watching it bounce wide of her goal.

Naeher's counterpart, Patricia Morais, kept her team in the game. Morgan came off the bench and fired on frame, but the goalkeeper made a strong save to deny the in-form striker 73 minutes in.

Here were the lineups for both sides:

The U.S. women close their European trip by taking on World Cup-bound Scotland in Paisley on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)