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Mallory Pugh facilitates USWNT goal in 2-1 win over Nigeria

Horan, Smith and Pugh contribute to Lady Yanks victory in nation’s capital, as senior team extends unbeaten streak to 71 games in the U.S.

John Babiak

Following their lopsided defeat in Kansas City, Kansas, just days ago, a determined Nigerian team showed up in Washington, D.C.’s Audi Field with vengeance.

The Super Falcons came out with intensity and aimed to apply lessons learned from their 4-1 loss at MLS Children’s Mercy Park.

The Falcons are Africa’s foremost senior women’s national. They will be participating in the 2023 World Cup tourney down under, where Burgundy Wave will be on-site to cover Vlatko Andonovski’s favorite Coloradans—Mallory Pugh, Sophia Smith and Lindsey Horan.

All three are currently on track to make the roster and play in the worldwide affair.

Last night’s contest underwrote an ideal workout for the U.S., as they will soon be off to London to play the roaring Lady Lionesses at famed Wembley Stadium in front of over 87,000 spectators.

The USA sent waves of attacks at Nigeria’s backline. Led by Alex Morgan, Horan, Smith and Pugh, the foursome come out with their afterburners on. Nigeria’s physical defensive unit matched up very well and prevented, at all costs, numerous close chances from finding the back of the net.

Nigeria stood up to Team USA’s penetrating attacks with strong body blows and a few legal takedowns, as the refereeing team raised the bar of play. And play did both sides play throughout the heated contest before 18,000 plus spirited fans.

The Yanks caught a huge break at the 24-minute mark, when Mallory Pugh received the ball on the left wing off a pass from defender Emily Fox. The Real Colorado product sent the ball low and across into the nucleus of the 18- yard box in hopes of marrying it with an inbound Lindsey Horan.

Nigerian defender, Blessing Demehin, stretched out far in an attempt to clear away the pass. Instead, she toe-kicked the ball into her own net for the first goal of the match.

In the second-half, Nigeria came out refocused and energized. They felt a positive outcome was well within their reach.

Substitute Uchenna Kanu went undetected into enemy territory on right side of the slick pitch. She brought down a long floating pass, then evaded two Yanks and the scored with grace and power. 1-1.

With the goal, America’s team gave up it’s first goal against in 880 minutes.

Andonovski felt his team was going a bit sideways on the muggy D.C. evening, and made a few key substitutions, including bring on foward Megan Rapinoe.

In less than 76 seconds, the icon delivered another one-of-a-kind-assist.

It started with Colorado Rush alum Lindsey Horan punting the ball to Pugh, who in turn combined with a Rapinoe who was chugging down the sideline.

Rapinoe chipped the ball that had eyes for Rose Lavelle who was drifting into the box.

The pint-sized Lavelle responded with an unimaginable twisting-turning-redirecting header that brought the entire stadium up onto its feet, and put the U.S. up for good.

The made-for-twitter-video goal was Lavelle’s fourth of the year, and 73rd assist for Rapinoe as an international player.

“I was extremely happy with how the team performed in the first half,” Andonovski states after the tense game. “The only thing we were missing in the first half was execution. We created a lot more in the first half than we did in the previous game, but we could not execute the opportunities we created.”

Team USA will need to execute and then some soon after it reconvenes in northwest London. They will face off with a very confident England team.

The Lionesses are the recent European Champions. They also rank 4th in the FIFA table.

Mark your calendars- USA vs U.K., October 7.

Colorado’s Smith, Pugh, Horan and possibly C.U. Buffs’ Taylor Kornieck should all make the trip over the Atlantic.