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Alex Morgan-led USWNT coasts past Thailand in World Cup-opening goal fest

Morgan contributed a record-tying 5 goals in the USWNT’s record-setting 13-0 win over Thailand.

USA v Thailand: Group F - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France
Alex Morgan celebrates with teammate Megan Rapinoe after scoring her fifth and the U.S.’s 12th goal against in their World Cup match against Thailand.
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The United States women’s national team (USWNT) coasted to a 13-0 win over Group F opponent Thailand in their opening match of the 2019 World Cup.

Alex Morgan finished with five goals on the day, while Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis, making their World Cup debuts, finished with a brace apiece. Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Lindsey Horan, and Mallory Pugh, the latter two of whom are also World Cup debutantes, each contributed singles to give the reigning World Cup champions the dominant win.

“We really just came into this game really wanting to showcase ourselves and what we’ve been preparing for and what we’ve been working on, and I think we did that,” Alex Morgan told Fox in a post-game interview. “Every goal matters in this tournament, and so that’s what we were working on this game. We got a lot of attacks, and I think we were really clinical in the number of attacks that we did get.”

The win sends the USWNT to the top of the Group F table thanks to three points and +13 goal differential. Sweden sits behind the U.S. with three points and a +1 goal differential following a 1-0 win over Chile earlier in the day.

The win also gives the U.S. the new record for the biggest win in a World Cup match, while Morgan’s five goals ties her with Michele Akers (1991) for most goals in a single World Cup match. Carli Lloyd’s goal in second-half stoppage time also ties the record for scoring in consecutive World Cup matches at five games.

“It’s incredible; I’m speechless,” Morgan said of her record-tying number of goals. “The ball just bounced my way tonight, and I’m so thankful. I’m just looking forward to getting onto the next game now.”

Morgan opened up scoring on the day, although she didn’t get on the board as early as she initially thought. In the fifth minute of the match, Lindsey Horan looked to have out-jumped the competition to head in service from center back Abby Dahlkemper, but Morgan was in an offside position when she put the final tap onto the ball for the goal, causing the effort to be negated by the offside flag

The veteran forward, appearing in her third World Cup, didn’t have the same problem in the 12th minute, though, when she was able to put the ball in the back of the net to put the U.S. on the board first. The U.S. drove the ball into the box, but it had to be played back out to right back Kelley O’Hara, who sent a cross into the six. Morgan got on the end of O’Hara’s service and headed it past Thai goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying for the opening goal of the match.

In the 20th minute, Rose Lavelle scored her first of the match after gaining possession for the U.S. in midfield. Lavelle seemed to all but stroll past the Thai defense before blasting a left-footed shot from outside the arc to double the USWNT’s lead.

Lindsey Horan put the U.S. up 3-0 in the 32nd minute off a play originating with a set piece. Tobin Heath was taken down just outside the 18, resulting in a USWNT free kick well within striking distance. Both Megan Rapinoe and Heath lined up to take the set piece, but Heath ultimately sent the ball in low. After the ball was knocked around inside the box, Horan was able to get a foot onto it to send it in for the U.S.’s third goal of the first half.

Horan’s goal forced Thai coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian to make a very early change, subbing on Pikul Khueanpet in favor of Wilaiporn Boothduang, both midfielders, in the 35th minute. Since it did not appear that Boothduang sustained any injury during her shift, it seems the change was more tactical in attempts of stifling the U.S. attack. The move turned out to be largely ineffective, although the USWNT failed to score another goal in the opening half.

During the two minutes of first-half stoppage time, the U.S. peppered the goal with shot after shot, only to be unable to finish any of the opportunities as a number of the shots were deflected by the Thai defense, while Chor Charoenying made three solid saves to hold the U.S. to a three-nil lead at the half.

Of much chagrin to U.S. fans, the USWNT were denied two penalty opportunities in the opening half, which could have seen them enter the break with an even larger lead. In the 23rd minute, Mewis was pulled down from behind with a two-hand tug on her arm, and after a quick consultation with Video Assistant Referee (VAR), the official let play resume. In the final minute of first-half stoppage time, Horan had both feet taken out from under her inside the box, but again, no call was made.

However, the penalty non-calls became a moot point during the second half, when the U.S. scored 10 unanswered goals to open their 2019 in dominant fashion. In the first five minutes of the closing half, Megan Rapinoe passed the ball to Mewis, who was standing just outside the box. Mewis took a touch, turned, and then fired off her shot, which blasted past the Thai keeper for the U.S.’s fourth goal of the match.

Mewis’s first goal opened the floodgates for the USWNT, with Morgan, Mewis, and Lavelle all completing braces in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Following Lavelle’s second goal, the midfielder was subbed off along with Tobin Heath, making way for the entrances of Carli Lloyd and Christen Press, respectively, in the 58th minute. The U.S.’s final sub came in the 68th minute, with Mallory Pugh making her World Cup debut , entering the match in place of Ertz in a move that shifted the USWNT into a three back.

Those subs were followed by Morgan scoring her third goal in the 74th minute to make it 8-0, USA. Morgan received the ball inside the 18 from Press, and her right-footed shot gave her the perfect hat trick (goals scored with each foot and the head) in the match. But neither Morgan nor the rest of the USWNT were done scoring yet.

Megan Rapinoe got in on the scoring action five minutes later, followed by Morgan’s fourth goal in the 81st minute. Morgan then tallied an assist in the 84th minute after heading a high ball forward for second-half sub Mallory Pugh. Morgan’s bouncing pass lured Chor Charoenying off her line, but Pugh used her touch to prevent the Thai keeper from squashing the U.S.’s attack and easily scored on an empty goal to put the U.S. up 11-0.

Morgan then scored her final goal of the night in the 87th minute after the Thai defense were unable to clear the ball from danger. After a couple of poor touches by Thailand, the ball bounced at Morgan’s feet, and the striker knocked it home for the record-tying fifth goal.

But it wouldn’t be a USWNT World Cup match with a goal from Carli Lloyd. Lloyd’s goal came in the second minute of second-half stoppage time and was courtesy of a through ball that split the exhausted Thai defense. Chor Charoenying made the diving attempt at stopping Lloyd’s shot, but the ball tucked under the keeper’s outstretched arm to seal the win for the U.S. well into garbage time.

The USWNT will next face Chile in their second group stage match on Sunday, June 16 at 12 p.m. ET. They close out group play on Thursday, June 20 at 3 p.m. ET against Sweden, who notably sent the USWNT home early from the 2016 Olympics.

Full USA v THA highlights are below.