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USA scores 9 goals on Thailand for Heather O’Reilly’s farewell game

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9 goals for 9 - it’s almost like they planned it

Soccer: International Friendly Women's Soccer-Thailand at USA Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Starting XI: Ashlyn Harris, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston, Ali Krieger, Allie Long, Samantha Mewis, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Christen Press, Tobin Heath

It was an emotional night in Columbus, Ohio as Heather O’Reilly played for the United States for the last time.

The game opened at a frantic pace with three goals in five minutes.

The first was in the first minute from Carli Lloyd, off an assist from Heather O’Reilly. The second was from Christen Press as Lloyd got on the end of a nice, sharp cross into the box and her rebound put the ball at Press’ feet. The third was from O’Reilly herself as Lloyd pounced on a bad back pass and centered it for a wide-open O’Reilly in the box.

Things calmed down a little bit after that, although Thailand really didn’t manage to press out more than one or two times. There were huge gaps all over the field allowing the U.S. to take their time on the ball and basically play at whatever pace they wanted. They looked for good runners, took some probing shots, and otherwise enjoyed the game.

O’Reilly almost picked up a brace in the 17’ when Press made a good run into the box and curled it across the goal, but O’Reilly’s tap on the ball wasn’t hard enough to beat the keeper.

Kelley O’Hara made several great runs up the left flank, although her crosses took a little bit to get dialed in. Samantha Mewis had some sharp through balls, trying to find Lloyd, who was nominally a midfielder but pushed high into the attacking line and was basically a strike partner for Press for much of the game.

Tobin Heath made it 4-0 in the 36’, chipping the ball in from an impressively acute angle.

Thailand had a few good moments in the first half, including a great save in the 39’ as their goalkeeper came out to stuff Lloyd, but their lone shot was always going wide.

The second half brought five subs:

Megan Rapinoe on for Tobin Heath
Emily Sonett on for Allie Long
Meghan Klingenberg on for Ali Krieger
Lindsey Horan on for Samantha Mewis
Alex Morgan on for Christen Press

Klingenberg went left, O’Hara shifted right, Sonnett went in as a center back, and Becky Sauerbrunn was given more space to operate as she pushed up into a DM position.

U.S. control of the game resumed, although it moved a little bit faster early in the half as Thailand tried to increase their pressure on the ball. Their keeper also came up big again with a great double save in the 58’.

Still, the U.S. scored in the 60’ with Lloyd making it 5-0. O’Reilly held the ball carefully and centered it for Horan; the bad defensive clearance fell to Lloyd, who finished.

The final sub of the night was in the 64’ with Crystal Dunn in for Julie Johnston. The U.S. moved into a three-back and Sauerbrunn stayed in the midfield. Dunn almost immediately made an impact and scored in the 70’ to make it 6-0, ripping one off her left foot after a couple of touches just inside the 18.

Then a hairy moment in the 71’ when Thailand managed a good ball up and Klingenberg had to rush back to cover. Combined with Harris seeming reluctant to come for the ball in the box, Thailand managed to bounce the ball in. O’Hara cleared it out of the goal, but not before it went over the line, but the referee didn’t see it and declined to count the goal.

Sauerbrunn continued to do a decent job moving the ball out of the midfield, leading to team’s seventh goal in the 81’ from Carli Lloyd, who completed her hat trick. The eighth goal was in the 86’ from Alex Morgan, who worked a great give ‘n go with Lloyd right up the middle, allowing Lloyd to feed her on a run into the box.

O’Reilly was subbed out in the 88’. She handed off her captain’s armband to Lloyd and left the field; the U.S. went down to 10, symbolically pulling O’Reilly on her own after using all six subs already.

Afterwards, the team managed one more goal to make it 9-0 off Alex Morgan’s second goal. Morgan nutmegged a defender and shot from a very steep angle into the corner of the net.

And so ends the national career of Heather O’Reilly, whose team managed a little gift of nine goals for #9. There’s really not much point in analyzing this game tactically given the opponent and the scoreline, although on a micro level there were some interesting moments to take into account, such as Lindsey Horan being more threatening as she moved farther up the field, and Meghan Klingenberg making defensive errors that led to some Thai opportunities on goal. But otherwise it was just a nice sendoff for a longtime servant of the game, who managed to add a couple of tallies to her already impressive stats. O’Reilly isn’t done with club soccer just yet though, so if you want to catch that sweet wide midfield action, tune in to FC Kansas City games next season.

Meanwhile the USWNT rolls on. Their next game is Sunday, September 18 at 7 PM ET against the Netherlands. It will air live on FS1.