CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Megan Rapinoe had two assists in her first national team game since the World Cup and the United States beat South Korea 2-0 on Thursday night for its 17th straight victory.
Coach Jill Ellis earned her 106th victory as coach of the United States, passing Tony DiCicco for most wins with the team.
“It’s not what I do this for, but I’ll take it,” said Ellis, who has led the U.S. team to back-to-back World Cup titles. “Like I’ve said many times, there’s a lot of peoples’ shoulders I stand on at this point. But it’s great. Celebrate this team.”
Allie Long and Mallory Pugh each scored in the team’s fifth straight shutout.
Rapinoe, who has been out with an Achilles injury since the United States won the World Cup in France, served up a free kick that Long slotted home for the goal in first-half stoppage time. It was Long’s eighth career goal.
“She hit it perfectly and I was just right there to one-time it in,” Long said about her teammate with the NWSL’s Reign.
Pugh added a goal on a header in the 76th minute. It was her 18th career goal, with Rapinoe getting the assist before she was subbed out a minute later.
Seven U.S. players were not available for the game because of injury, including Sam Mewis, Kelley O’Hara, Morgan Brian, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan.
Before the game the team honored Krieger for 100 appearances with the team. She reached the milestone on May 16 against New Zealand but the ceremony was delayed by the World Cup.
The moment was especially touching because Krieger’s father, Ken Krieger, was able to attend. Ken Krieger was recently in a serious car accident and spent over a week in intensive care. Also celebrating in a pregame ceremony was U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger’s fiance. Harris also started the game in goal.
South Korea played at the World Cup this summer but lost each of its three group stage games.
The game was the second-to-last of the U.S. team’s post-World Cup victory tour. The United States will host South Korea again on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The match in Chicago will be coach Ellis’ last with the team. The two-time world coach of the year is stepping down.
“For her to go out on top, to be the most winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history, two back-to-back World Cups, it’s absolutely incredible,” Long said. “Just as a female she’s been a role model for so many of us, and kind of like a second mom, you’re with this team so much.”
The DiCicco Family issued a statement congratulating Ellis following the game. DiCicco, who coached the team from 1994-99, died in 2017.
“While we all wish Tony was here to congratulate Jill himself, we know what he would say. Records like this are not owned, they are simply held for a while,” the statement said.
The United States is 18-1-2 this season. The lone loss came to France in the first game of the year.
The announced attendance at Bank of America Stadium was 30,071.