MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) – Alex Morgan is back.
The American forward scored in the 25th minute in her second start since returning from an ankle injury, and the U.S. women defeated England 1-0 on Friday night in an exhibition game.
Morgan got her 50th goal in 79 international appearances, becoming the third-fastest American woman to reach the mark behind Michelle Akers (49 games) and Abby Wambach (64).
The goal ended a 217-minute scoring drought for the United States, which played its second game of the year in preparing for this year’s Women’s World Cup — and its second without suspended goalkeeper Hope Solo. The Americans had won just one of their previous five matches, including a 2-0 loss to France last weekend.
England’s Jodie Taylor, Morgan’s Portland Thorns teammate, appeared to even the match in the 56th minute but was ruled offside.
The game was played before 14,369 fans at Milton Keynes, about 50 miles northwest. England was coming off a 3-0 loss to Germany in late November that drew 45,000 fans to London’s Wembley Stadium.
Morgan injured her left ankle last October in group stage play of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which served as qualifying for the World Cup. She hurt the same ankle in training the previous year, and ended up missing nine games for the Thorns last season.
Morgan also started Sunday in Lorient, when the second-ranked U.S. team fell 2-0 to No. 3 France. It was the first time in 17 matches the French defeated the Americans.
Solo was suspended for 30 days by the U.S. Soccer Federation after her husband, former Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, was arrested in Southern California on suspicion of driving under the influence in a U.S. team van. Solo, in training camp at the time, was a passenger when Stevens was pulled over.
Solo, who had started 25 of the team’s previous 29 matches, has been replaced on the two-match European tour by Ashlyn Harris, who had made just four international appearances before the trip. The USSF has not said whether Solo will return for next month’s Algarve Cup in Portugal.
The Americans also were without midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who strained a ligament in her right knee during training camp in January, and defender Christie Rampone, who has been ruled out because of back pain.
Forward Sydney Leroux, who injured her ankle during training, also did not play.
The United States opens the Algarve Cup against Norway on March 4. The Americans play their World Cup opener against Australia on June 8 at Winnipeg, Manitoba.