Philly makes USWNT proud with record-setting crowd during 4-0 win

Tobin Heath, Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd, and Allie Long scored the goals for the USWNT while fans piled into Lincoln Financial Field seats in what ended up being an impressive 4-0 win over Portugal in the second of five matches on their 2019 Victory Tour.

The announcement came just passed the hour mark. An announced crowd of 49,504 were in attendance to enjoy the back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup champions in action – now the largest crowd for a stand-alone friendly at home. That number is now the 9th largest crowd in USWNT history on home soil, only beaten by crowds from the 1999 World Cup and 1986 Olympics.

“It’s fantastic, it’s phenomenal,” said USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis after the match about the turnout. “When people come to the game tonight and enjoy it, they’re going to want to come back and invest in this team. In terms of the popularity of this team, I think this team has not only captured this nation, it’s captured the world.”

Those who traveled into Philly for the match did not have to wait long to be delighted by a USA goal either.

Just four minutes into the match, perhaps the most skilled player of the group, Tobin Heath, found herself all alone along the goal line for the opening goal. Julie Ertz placed a near-perfect diagonal ball up over the Portuguese backline which found Christen Press sprinting toward the endline along the right wing. Press picked her head up and put a cross into the six-yard box where Heath buried home the goal.

Heath now has 32 career international goals. Over her last 26 USWNT matches (151 career caps/appearances), Heath has scored 14 times – an impressive 44% of her career total.

14 minutes later, Morgan Brian scored a rare goal for herself off a corner kick from Press. Brian was left unmarked at the back post and Press’ curling ball from the corner flag found her for the goal. Brian played in just her third match with USWNT this year, and with 84 career caps and now seven goals, she could see herself earning more time moving forward. Press, on the other hand, continues to be effective when called upon earning two assists on the night.

Portugal would eventually figure out a way to stop the bleeding though. The Portuguese would head into halftime down 2-0, instead of what could have easily been 4-0 at half.

Several substitutions were made at halftime, which granted Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn, and Jessica McDonald a solid 45 minutes of work.

And just seven minutes after the second half began, Carli Lloyd scored her first-ever goal in Lincoln Financial Field. It was her 2nd goal in Philadelphia (scored once in Chester at Talen Energy Stadium) – although her first within the actual city limits of Philly. The goal was Lloyd’s 79th international goal since turning 30 roughly seven years ago.

She celebrated her 115th career goal with a flap of the arms, saluting the Philadelphia Eagles in the process. The crowd grew louder by the minute.

The next positive in a list of many came in the 60th minute when a second wave of USWNT substitutions saw Mallory Pugh return to action despite being listed as questionable ahead of the match. Her appearance and the absence of injuries all together on the night may be the second most important takeaway from last night’s action behind the crowd size.

Allie Long’s goal in the 82nd minute would be the final tally. Once again, Ertz deserves the credit for the goal happening in the first place. Her lofty passes from central areas down the flanks are unstoppable at times and she found Lloyd along the right wing to set up the cross for Long’s goal.

Post-match, Ellis spoke honestly and with a sense of gratitude considering her tenure as USWNT manager is slowly coming to an end.

“For me personally it’s fun to be a part of this, celebrating. Someone asked me out there ‘why do you look so happy?’ and I said well we won a World Cup and it’s a Victory Tour so it’s queued up,” said Ellis with a laugh. “I think it’s fun and I’m enjoying it. Obviously it’s the end but it’s still enjoyable to be around the game and to play these teams and be out there. I mean holy cow that was awesome with the atmosphere.”

The fans were loud and proud, as you would expect in Philadelphia. And their love was felt by Ellis and the team as well.

“And to feel the love that’s really what you’re doing out there, feeling the love from the fans and just the excitement and the energy. It’s a privilege really to be in that position and to be out there to celebrate with the fans,” said Ellis.

Ellis coached the USWNT to their 15 straight win – a new record. She will most definitely be going out on a high note.

“To see the fans and the growth in the numbers and in terms of popularity for the sport and the team,” said Ellis. “It’s great to be a part of. It speaks volumes about our sport. I think the World Cup was such a world showcased event – I think people get on board. This is an exciting team with great personalities. Ultimately, what does a fan want? Entertainment and that’s what they get with this group. To be a part with the fans that may not have been in France has been fun and it’s a good sign for where our game is at.”

So hats off to you Philly area soccer fans. And hats off to those that traveled in from out of state. Last night was a great example of just how passionate this town is about any and all sports, especially when the USWNT come to town.

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JILL ELLIS POST GAME PRESS CONFERENCE

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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