Well, that was quite the showing. The US made their 2019 World Cup debut by absolutely demolishing Thailand 13-0. The US raced ahead to a 3-0 lead in the first with goals from Morgan, Lavelle, and Horan, before bagging a further TEN (!!!) in the second half. That scoreline happened to break the record for most goals scored in a single game in either the men’s or women’s World Cup, as well as the single largest margin of victory. All through it, the USWNT were hardworking, efficient, and completely focused on playing their game as best as they could down to the last minute. It’s just a shame that Thailand couldn’t keep up. (That’s what happens when only some federations make the women’s game a (relatively) serious priority). Either way, the USWNT were absolutely excellent. Here’s some things to take away from the match.
The opening set of matches in this World Cup saw a slew of organized defenses and excellent goalkeeping performances from unheralded sides. New Zealand and Chile each nearly stole appoint from the Netherlands and Sweden, respectively, before conceding late. Argentina actually managed the feat, drawing finalists Japan. With the exception of hosts and serious contender, France, none of the big teams really came out and showed themselves as a BIG TEAM©. With how the other teams were showing, there were some questions about whether the US would find themselves stifled in front of a stiff defense.
The USWNT is the best team in the world, the reigning champions, and they sure looked like it.
xG Thailand - USA— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 11, 2019
Don’t expect every game to be a record-breaking demolition, but the other contenders need to notice. The shots have been fired.
Big Little Changes
You guys remember Julie Ertz at center back with Becky Sauerbrunn back at the 2015 World Cup? Well, we got a glimpse of that past again against Thailand. Sauerbrunn was out with a minor quad strain (or to just manage her minutes) so JJ filled in beside Dahlkemper. This also made room for Sam Mewis to actually get in the lineup. The changes panned out, with Mewis bagging two goals, even as Ertz got on the scoresheet.
The worry with dropping Ertz to the backline and adding Mewis was always that the defensive shape wouldn’t necessarily have enough bite or structure. Was that a problem in this game? Did Ertz even play as a proper center back instead of bombing forward as an auxiliary d-mid? ¯\ _(ツ)_/¯ I have no clue. Thailand couldn’t provide a stern enough test for me to tell one way or another.
Alex Morgan is Back
Alex Morgan scored five goals. FIVE. ✋
She’s basically already won the Golden Boot. Last time around, six goals made you (if you are Carli Lloyd or Célia Šašić) the top goalscorer. The time before that, Homare Sawa went home with most scored with just five. Morgan is basically already there. Another few and it won’t even really be in question.
Before the tournament began, a handful of people and I had a few questions about Morgan. She hadn’t scored in the three tuneup matches (all against relatively weak teams) going into the tournament and hadn’t seemed to be on the same page as her wingers or Rose Lavelle in midfield. But nobody is going to talk about those issues now. Morgan was absolutely clinical in her shooting, with her five goals tying the legendary Michelle Akers for most goals scored in a single match. On top of those goals, she had three assists and generally connected well across the field, whether it was with O’Hara or Lavelle. It was just an absolute masterclass performance.
That’s all I’ve got. As always, tell me what you think in the comments below. The USWNT will be back in World Cup action in just a few days; they play Chile on June 16th.
p.s. PAY THEM