Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
That’s how USA fans felt watching the United State’s Women’s National Team take down Thailand 13-0 in their World Cup opener on Tuesday afternoon. The Stars & Stripes broke the record for largest margin of victory in a Women’s World Cup. Striker Alex Morgan became the first player to contribute five goals and two assists in a single World Cup match; a powerful start to her third World Cup Finals.
The U.S. was projected to win Tuesday’s match, but no one knew the extent to which that would be true. The only noticeable difference coming into the match for the USWNT was the absence of Becky Sauerbrunn, who was out with a minor quad issue. Julie Ertz pushed back from her normal central midfield to cover the center back position, while Lindsey Horan covered the vacant position in the midfield.
The first half was all Americans, as the ladies in red held over 70 percent possession through the entire first 45 minutes and beyond. Thailand kept the penalty box clogged, but failed to mark players individually, giving the U.S. the ability to score early and often.
The USWNT started their World Cup campaign with a flurry of chances, though they didn’t get rolling right away. Morgan put one of those chances in the back of the net in the fifth minute, only to be called offside and have the goal taken back.
It was only a matter of time, however, before the star striker got one that counted. In the 12th minute, Morgan found space and connected with a service from Rose Lavelle to give the Stars & Stripes the lead.
And they were off.
Morgan returned the favor in the 20th minute, assisting Lavelle, who sent a left-footed rocket into the back of the net from just outside the 18-yard box.
Fans didn’t have to wait long in between goals in the first half, with Lindsey Horan adding to the action in the 32nd minute. A set piece rebounded in the penalty area, leading to a scramble from the U.S. before the ball fell to the feet of Horan, who blasted it home.
Midfielder Samantha Mewis opened the second half in style with a goal on her World Cup debut in the 50th minute. She put enough pace on the shot that took a deflection in her team’s favor.
Morgan broke up the scoring with her second of the night off of a set piece in the 53rd minute, followed quickly and swiftly by Mewis getting a brace of her own in the 54th minute. If you’ve lost track, that puts the U.S. up six goals nine minutes into the second half.
Lavelle was not to be forgotten, getting her second of the night and the team’s seventh in the 56th minute from an assist from Mewis. She was then subbed out of the match to be replaced by Carli Lloyd, who was making her debut in her fourth and final World Cup. Christen Press also subbed on in the 57th minute for Tobin Heath.
The scoreline stilled for the next stretch, though chances were not limited. Mallory Pugh made her World Cup debut in the 69th minute, coming on for Ertz.
In the 74th minute, the goals came again. Morgan got her hat-trick when Press found her in unmarked space, making her the fourth U.S. player to notch a hat-trick in the World Cup.
The ninth goal saw a new face on the score sheet with Megan Rapinoe getting in on the action in the 79th minute. A quick transition from the U.S. gave Pugh a fast break which allowed her to give Rapinoe the ball in wide open space, from which she hammered it home.
Morgan got back in on the action in the 81st minute with her fourth goal to get her team to double digits. She was assisted by Rapinoe.
The team tied the margin of victory record in the 84th minute when Morgan found Pugh, who took a great left-footed strike that sailed past the Thailand keeper with ease. Morgan took a page out of Pugh’s book just three minutes later to put the U.S. at 12, breaking the scoring record. This was Morgan’s fifth and final goal of the night.
Lloyd knocked on the scoresheet’s door since being subbed in, but couldn’t catch a break. Then, with just a little over a minute to play, the veteran topped off an already jaw-dropping team performance with a great run and finish to make it 13-0. This made Lloyd the only player to score in five straight Women’s World Cup games. She is also the oldest American with a Women’s World Cup goal. Morgan got her second assist of the night on the play.
With Lloyd’s goal, the USWNT tied the record for most scorers in a game at seven.
The U.S. now tops Group F on goal differential, followed by Sweden. They turn their attention to Sunday when they take on Chile at 12 p.m. ET. Chile is ranked 39th in the world, and lost to Sweden 2-0 in their World Cup debut.