Sophia Smith scores twice, US women defeat Nigeria 4-0

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sophia Smith scored a pair of first-half goals and the U.S. women’s national team defeated Nigeria 4-0 Saturday as both teams prepare for next summer’s World Cup.

The United States has a 70-game unbeaten streak on American soil — 63 wins and seven draws.

The two teams face off again Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Smith outmaneuvered a defender and scored from distance in the 14th minute. Lindsey Horan made it 2-0 in the 26th minute with a goal to the far post off an assist from Smith, who added a second goal in first-half stoppage time.

Alex Morgan converted on a penalty kick in the 52nd minute after Mallory Pugh was fouled in the box.

Smith, who plays for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, leads the national team with nine goals this year.

Smith, just 22, is developing different aspects of her game, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said.

“(Her) individual movements are very good. But then her movements off of Alex Morgan were very precise. We saw a couple of good connections with Alex, a couple of good connections with the players that were around,” Andonovski said. “So she’s becoming not just individually a very good player but she’s also bringing other players in the game and helps them look better on the field.”

The United States qualified for the World Cup at the CONCACAF W Championship in July. The team won the tournament title to also secure a berth in the 2024 Olympics.

The U.S. has won the last two World Cups and has four titles overall.

Nigeria, one of the most successful women’s teams in Africa, qualified for the 2023 World Cup by advancing to the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in July. The Super Falcons finished fourth in the tournament.

Nigeria has advanced to every World Cup since the tournament started in 1991. Currently the team is coached by Randy Waldrum, former coach of the NWSL’s Houston Dash.

Following Tuesday’s rematch against Nigeria, the United States heads to Europe to play England at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 7.

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