Oh, what a night (night)!
After Alex Morgan converted on a penalty in the 78th minute and the U.S. women’s national team won the CONCACAF Women’s Championship 1-0 over Canada on Monday night to secure one of the region’s spots in the 2024 Olympics, she took a page out of Steph Curry’s book.
Morgan, a two-time World Cup champion, struck the Warriors star’s signature pose — hands together against her face as if to say “time for bed” — alongside the CONCACAF trophy and the tournament’s best player trophy in a photo she shared on Instagram after the game with the caption “Night Night.”
Curry’s “Night Night” celebration went viral during the NBA playoffs and the legend has continued to grow with ShoePalace creating exclusive swag.
“It just always feels good to be called the champion, and this game just, like, means a lot to us. It’s always going to mean a lot,” Morgan said. ”Obviously against Canada, they gave us a run for our money, but we prevailed and feel good about the performance.”
As FIFA President Gianni Infantino watched from a private box, the United States finally broke a stalemate when Rose Lavelle was fouled in the box and Morgan fooled Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan on the penalty. It was Morgan’s 118th overall career goal.
“Alex is a big player, and big players are born for big moments,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “And that’s what makes her special.”
The United States is now 33-0 in World Cup or Olympic qualifying matches since losing to Mexico 2-1 ahead of the 2011 World Cup.
The game was a rematch of the Olympic semifinal a year ago in Tokyo. Canada edged the United States 1-0 on a late penalty kick to advance to the final, its first victory over the Americans in 20 years.
The Canadians went on to win the gold medal on a penalty shootout with Sweden. The U.S. team finished with the bronze.
Alyssa Naeher was in goal for the United States instead of Casey Murphy, who started the previous game at the tournament. Defender Emily Fox also returned to the lineup from COVID-19 protocol.
The United States has changed since the Olympics, and Morgan is now one of the older players on the roster surrounded by up-and-coming talent like forward Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh.
But the team has clearly benefitted from the steady veteran presence of Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn. All three are veterans of two World Cup titles and know what it takes to perform on the big stage.
Temperatures hovered in the low 90s at the start of the match at Estadio BBVA. Sheridan had a big save in the 31st minute when Pugh made a break down the right side and took a hard shot at the goal.
She made another in the 45th, with an assist from teammate Kadeisha Buchanan, on Smith’s scramble to score at the goal line. Smith had another chance in the 64th, but it went wide.
Canada had a flurry of late opportunities, including a header from Jordyn Huitema that went wide.
“I think what I was most pleased with is, after you get that penalty call, the bounce back from the group after that, they showed that they were willing to do anything to get the result back. So we gave it everything and that’s all you can ask,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said.
The United States has been to every World Cup since the tournament started in 1991. The Americans have four titles, including the last two in 2015 and 2019.
— With AP