The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) defeated Thailand 9-0 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
It was only fitting that, in no. 9 Heather O’Reilly’s final match in a USWNT kit, the team scored nine goals.
O’Reilly, wearing the captain’s armband for the match in honor of her 14 years on the national team, came off the field in the 89th minute to a rousing standing ovation from the fans. In a move symbolic of O’Reilly’s irreplaceable nature, no one subbed in for her, and the U.S. finished out the final few minutes of the match with only nine field players.
One of those nine field players was Megan Rapinoe, who once again got national attention when she kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before Thursday night’s match. Rapinoe first kneeled during the anthem before her NWSL club team, the Seattle Reign FC’s, match on September 4 and had said prior to Thursday night that she planned to kneel again before Thursday’s USWNT match.
However, Head Coach Jill Ellis told ESPN commentator and former USWNT star Julie Foudy that it was expected of national team players to stand during the playing of the national anthem. After the match, U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) released a statement that echoed Ellis’s comments, saying, “As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the National Anthem is played.” USSF’s full statement is below.
It was unclear during Thursday night’s match whether Rapinoe would face any punishment for going against USSF’s expectations, but she did play in Thursday night’s match, subbing in for Tobin Heath at the start of the second half.
On the field, it was O’Reilly who got the excitement going when, just 40 seconds in, she received the ball near the right corner and sent a cross in to Carli Lloyd. Lloyd got her head on the ball and knocked it past Thailand’s goalkeeper, Yada Sengyong, for O’Reilly’s first assist and the USWNT’s first goal of the night.
Christen Press scored next in the 4th minute on a play started by midfielder Tobin Heath. Heath crossed the ball from just outside the top of the box to Carli Lloyd, whose touch deflected sideways to Christen Press. Press got over the ball and buried it into the back of the net.
Heather O’Reilly added a goal to the assist she tallied just minutes earlier when Lloyd moved the ball down the left side of the field before laying it up for O’Reilly to knock into the goal. O’Reilly’s was the third USWNT goal in less than five minutes.
After so many goals in the opening minutes, the USWNT slowed down their tempo remarkably. Even then, the ball rarely left the U.S.’s offensive half and a number of shots, including a couple on target, were fired off by the team.
However, Tobin Heath got put the USWNT on the board again, sending a curving ball in from the left side of the box and into the goal. O’Reilly slid in with the insurance touch to make sure the ball clearly crossed the line, but the goal was credited to Heath.
The score remained 4-0 until the 60th minute when O’Reilly assisted Lloyd for the second time of the night. In typical O’Reilly fashion, she again sent a cross in from the right side of the box, putting the ball right in front of the goal. A Thai player collected the ball, but Lloyd stripped them of it, turned and scored her second goal of the night.
Crystal Dunn increased the USWNT’s lead to 6-0 when she received a ball from Becky Sauerbrunn and moved into space before dribbling into the right corner of the box. From there, she launched a left-footed shot into the goal in the 70th minute.
Thailand should have scored a goal in the 71st minute courtesy of a mistake by goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. The Thai ball crossed the goal line, but Kelley O’Hara was right there knocked the ball back out of the goal. Although replays showed the ball was fully over the goal line before O’Hara’s clearance, the goal did not stand and Thailand remained scoreless.
The USWNT was not done scoring though, and in the 81st minute, Carli “Hat Trick” Lloyd lived up to the nickname. Lloyd, who famously scored a hat trick in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final to help the USWNT win its first World Cup in 16 years, knocked a ball originally headed by Lindsey Horan and blocked by Sengyong into the net.
Alex Morgan would end the night with a brace after scoring in the 86th and 90+2nd minutes. On her first goal, Morgan received a through ball from Lloyd and used her speed to break free of defenders to go 1v1 with the keeper. She expertly beat Sengyong to score. With her assist on Morgan’s goal, Lloyd finished the night with three goals and four assists, having played a role in seven of the U.S.’s nine goals.
In second-half stoppage time, Morgan moved the ball up the right flank and into the box, outmaneuvering two Thai players to get a look on goal. She took a shot, and put it well out of reach of the keeper to score the ninth and final goal of the match.
Thailand next travels to Buffalo, N.Y. to play the NWSL’s Western New York Flash on Saturday, September 17.
The USWNT travels to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to take on the women’s national team of The Netherlands on Sunday, September 18.