Morgan has hat trick, US beats Ireland 5-0

It was something of an understatement when Alex Morgan said she

was feeling it against Ireland.

Morgan scored three first-half goals and the Olympic gold

medal-winning U.S. women’s national team defeated Ireland 5-0 on

Wednesday night, the latest match in an exhibition tour for fans

following the London Games.

On the drizzle-slicked turf of Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field, Abby

Wambach and the rest of the U.S. women’s team encouraged

Morgan.

”Abby and everyone just kept saying `Shoot! Shoot! It’s a slick

surface!’ So I did,” Morgan said afterward, lingering to sign

autographs. ”I was feeling it.”

Sydney Leroux added two goals to help the top-ranked United

States improve to 4-0-2 on its Fan Tribute Tour.

Morgan struck first in the 24th minute. It was her 25th goal

this year, making her the third U.S. player to reach the mark in a

season – Wambach had 31 in 2004 and Michelle Akers had 39 in

1991.

Morgan scored again in the 34th minute, when she had a clear

path from just outside of the box in front of goalkeeper Emma

Byrne. Morgan’s third, which was unassisted, came in the 44th

minute.

It was her second career hat trick. She also had one March 7 in

a 4-0 victory over Sweden.

Acting U.S. coach Jill Ellis said the 23-year-old forward’s

performance was ”obviously special.”

”Every time she touched the ball something dangerous

happened,” Ellis said.

Morgan was subbed out for Leroux, who scored in the 66th minute

to make it 4-0. She scored again in the 81st minute for the final

margin.

Leroux has a reserve-record 12 goals this season.

Hope Solo started in goal for the U.S. while her personal life

was again grabbing headlines. Earlier Wednesday, husband Jerremy

Stevens was taken into custody in Hillsborough County, Fla., for an

alleged parole violation.

The day before their wedding on Nov. 13 in Washington state,

Stevens was arrested for alleged domestic assault during a party in

the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Court documents said police

reported seeing signs of a fight and a cut on Solo’s arm.

A judge released Stevens after a court appearance, saying there

was no evidence connecting him to any assault.

Solo spoke to reporters at a team training session in Portland

on Tuesday, proclaiming she was happy and she would never stand for

domestic violence. She blamed the media for distorting the

story.

Following reports of Stevens arrest in Florida, Solo posted to

Twitter: ”I feel bad for all the ignorance in the world. People

are so quick to judge. The media spins stories in such dramatic

fashion. I will continue to show love, and never make judgments. I

am blessed w True Love & the beautiful game of soccer. I wish

everybody the same happiness.”

Stevens was selected with the No. 28 pick of the 2002 draft by

the Seahawks after a stellar career at Washington. But he also was

involved in incidents away from football that included reckless

driving charges for crashing into a nursing home.

Solo also went to Washington. According to various reports, they

started dating following the London Olympics.

Solo did not speak to reporters after Wednesday night’s

match.

The United States is 9-0-0 against Ireland, including a 2-0

victory in September 2008 in Bridgeview, Ill. The Americans have

outscored Ireland 35-1 in their nine matches.

Ireland, ranked 32nd in the world, has never qualified for the

Olympics or the World Cup. The Portland fans, known for their

affection for soccer, cheered the Irish players after the match.

Ireland returned the favor, heading to both sides of the field to

applaud.

Ellis, women’s development director for U.S. soccer, coached the

U.S. team against Ireland. Former Australian national team coach

Tom Sermanni takes over the national team in January, replacing

Olympic coach Pia Sundhage, who stepped down.

Ireland, coached by Sue Ronan, will play the United States again

in Glendale, Ariz., on Saturday as the tour continues.

The U.S. women improved to 10-1-0 in Portland, with their lone

loss coming to Germany in a FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal in

2003.

With temperatures in the low 40s, attendance for the weeknight

match was 10,092.

”I’m not going to do an ice bath,” joked fan favorite Megan

Rapino, who played at the University of Portland. ”It’s too

cold.”