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.
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. 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.
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, 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. 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 its to defend its title.
And 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.
Megan Rapinoe also scored. So did 2015 hero Carli Lloyd. Mallory Pugh, another World Cup first-timer, got on the board with the Americans’ 11th. Their 10 goals in the second half were also a Women’s World Cup record.
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.
The U.S. will have tougher tests ahead, starting with Chile on Sunday, then Sweden in the group finale. Opponents will get progressively stronger. But Tuesday’s rout was nonetheless remarkable.