REIMS, France — There was little doubt the United States would dominate its opening 2019 Women’s World Cup match.
But Alex Morgan’s five goals and the 13-0 total destruction of Thailand still thrilled the U.S.-friendly announced crowd of 18,591 Tuesday night at Stade Auguste-Delaune. the result broke the World Cup record for goals and margin of victory. The previous record was Germany’s 11-0 victory over Argentina in 2007.
Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis each recorded a brace. Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also scored.
“I look at the way that we played tonight, and I just feel so inspired by this group of women,” said Morgan, who tied Michelle Akers’ single-game World Cup scoring record. “And when you look at the scoreline, yes it’s a high one, but at the end of the day, when you’re playing in a World Cup, every single goal may count. …and that’s why we had to keep going.”
Morgan had never before scored in the group stage of a World Cup, and she nearly got her first four minutes into the match, but an offside call negated the goal.
It didn’t matter. She scored the first goal of the night anyway eight minutes later. Defender Kelley O’Hara flew up the right flank, crossed the ball to Morgan in front of goal, and Morgan solidly struck the ball with her head for a straight shot into the net and a 1-0 U.S. lead.
Rose Lavelle scored the second goal in the 20th minute from just outside the box. In the 32nd minute, Tobin Heath took a free kick after being tripped at the edge of the box. The ball fell to Lindsey Horan right in front of goal. Horan roofed her shot into Thailand’s net for a 3-0 U.S. lead.
When the referee announced two extra minutes at the end of the first half, things got a little crazy in front of Thailand’s goal. Rose Lavelle shot. Crystal dunn shot. Alex morgan header. Tobin heath rebound. A lot of legs colliding around the ball. Horan down in the box. No call.
Thailand’s 5-foot-5 goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying batted away a couple shots and the defense blocked the rest to prevent yet another U.S. goal before halftime. Chor Charoenying finished the night with seven saves.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis started in a familiar 4-3-3 formation, but midfielder Becky Sauerbrunn was left out of the starting XI as a precaution due to a minor quad injury, according to U.S. Soccer. Sam Mewis started in her place.
Mewis didn’t miss a beat. She kicked off a fast and furious second half for the U.S. with a 50th-minute goal. Then, during a three-minute period from minutes 53-56, the United States scored three times, barely giving fans a chance to celebrate in between.
Morgan, Mewis and Lavelle scored their second goals — in that order — during that time.
The rest of the half was a blur. Morgan goal (74′). Rapinoe goal (79′). Morgan goal (81′). Pugh goal (85′). Morgan goal (87′). Lloyd goal (92′). Celebration. Standing ovation.
“We got 13 goals. We got a clean sheet. And it was a good way to start the World Cup,” U.S. defender Kelley O’Hara said. “Today felt good.”
After the game, Ellis and some U.S. players went to speak with Thailand’s players to tell them to keep their heads up and keep pushing.
The USWNT now heads to Paris for a Sunday match against Chile, which lost to Group F rival Sweden earlier Tuesday.
“This is a world championship, so every team that’s here has been fantastic to get to this point,” Ellis said. “And I think to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents. And it’s a tournament where goal differential is a criteria.
“As a coach, I don’t find it my job to go in and try to harness my players and rein them in, because this is what they’ve dreamt about. This is it for them. This is a world championship.”