Jill Ellis, the American coach, said her squad was ready approximately 26 hours before the U.S. opened defense of its Women’s World Cup title.
With the U.S. crushing Thailand, 13-0, in a match that was far more one-sided than the final score, their first output was even better, and the final score matched the most one-sided in the history of the World Cup. Like veterans Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, newbies Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh also scored in their World Cup debuts.
The U.S. and Thailand were the last teams to take the field, and before it even started their game was a mismatch.
Thailand came in with one Women’s World Cup victory in its history, wearing powder-blue uniforms; the U.S. won three titles. Dating back 10 months, Thailand had lost 11 of its last 12 matches; the U.S. had once 38 matches dating back nearly 22 months.
The goalkeeper of Thailand, Sukanya Chor Charoenying, was the second-highest player in the start lineup. The U.S., wearing all red kits, started eight players who are taller. Even the crowd of 18,591 was strongly stacked in favor of the Americans.
Not surprisingly given the height advantage the U.S. held the ball in the air as much as possible and that plan took only five minutes to operate with a lengthy Julie Ertz pass deep into the box leading to a goal. But when Morgan was ruled offside, the score was removed from the board.
The next time the ball came her way, she wasn’t offside, heading into a Lavelle cross that in the 12th minute easily cleared Thai defender Natthakarn Chinwong. Then Lavelle doubled the lead eight minutes later on her own, running on a loose ball in the center of the Thai end, dribbling toward the penalty area and drilling in a left-footed shot from around 23 yards. Morgan got the assist.
Sending Lloyd on for Lavelle and Christen Press in for Heath, Ellis was asking for replacements. That didn’t slow the Americans down, with Morgan scoring in the final 16 minutes twice, and Pugh and Rapinoe once each. Towards the last moments, Lloyd received her goal.