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There are many ways to describe just how one-sided the U.S. women’s national team’s 2019 World Cup opener was.
The most simplistic would be the score: USA 13, Thailand 0 – a record margin of victory at the Women’s World Cup.
Or Alex Morgan’s individual tally: five goals, tying a tournament record.
But no single stat can do this bloodbath justice. No single description can explain just how excellent and ruthless the U.S. was.
The Americans battered and bullied and outpaced and outplayed their overmatched opponents. And they never relented, turning a 3-0 halftime lead into an unprecedented thrashing.
Which wasn’t unexpected. But the extent of their dominance was still jarring. It was almost cringeworthy.
It was, in so many ways, the perfect World Cup start.
USWNT’s breakout stars get their goals
A matchup with Thailand was an ideal opportunity to ease World Cup debutants onto the big stage. Not that Lindsey Horan or Rose Lavelle needed to be eased into anything. But if there were any worries about nerves or overwhelming emotions, they were quickly quashed.
Lavelle, a 24-year-old attacking midfielder making her first start at a major tournament, nabbed her first World Cup goal in less than 20 minutes:
Horan, whose unconventional path has led her to the top of the sport, got off the mark in the 32nd minute:
Sam Mewis, another midfielder making her major-tournament bow, made it 4-0 shortly after halftime ...
... and got her second minutes later:
Lavelle capped off a seven-minute barrage with the USWNT’s seventh:
The joy on all three of their faces was so genuine, so deserved, and so meaningful. Mallory Pugh, a 21-year-old winger, joined them on the scoresheet late in the day.
Now that all those firsts are out of the way, and those emotions have been experienced, Horan and Lavelle in particular can be unleashed on the rest of the world. The U.S. might need both to star if it’s to defend its title.
Alex Morgan gets five
It’ll also need Alex Morgan to be the striker we know she can be. And, well, Tuesday was a pretty good start in that department as well.
Morgan got the scoring underway in the 12th minute, nodding home a precisely weighted Kelley O’Hara cross:
She got a second in the middle of that early second-half flash flood ...
... and a third a little over 20 minutes later:
As if a hat trick wasn’t enough, Morgan put in a fourth, and the USWNT’s 10th, in the 81st minute.
And then a fifth in the 87th.
And to be quite frank, the U.S. easily could have scored more than 13. Thailand, on the other hand, never even threatened to get one.
Just how dominant was the U.S.?
The U.S., by the end of the 90 minutes, had peppered Thailand with 40 – FORTY! – shots. It put 20 of the 40 on goal.
Thailand, meanwhile, had two. And they were both hopeless.
The U.S. camped in the attacking half all game. Through 45 minutes, nine American players had 40 or more touches. No Thai player topped 40.
In the second half, the action map was pretty telling:
So was a final-whistle shot map:
The U.S. started defensive midfielder Julie Ertz at center back to fit Mewis into the lineup. At times, it barely even played with any defenders – and the “defenders” who did hang back at the halfway line didn’t do much defending. The 4-3-3 base became a 3-4-3, and occasionally something resembling a 1-6-3.
Then, as if to flaunt her riches, U.S. coach Jill Ellis brought Lloyd and fellow forward Christen Press off the bench. After Pugh entered as the third sub, the U.S. had three strikers and two wingers on the field despite being up double-digits.
The U.S. will have tougher tests ahead, starting with Chile on Sunday, then Sweden in the group finale. Opponents will get progressively stronger. France, the USWNT’s top challenger, likely awaits in the quarterfinals. A demolition of Thailand doesn’t tell too much about the Americans’ readiness for a game like that.
But Tuesday’s rout was nonetheless remarkable.
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