The Associated PressREIMS, France (AP) — Thailand was never a real threat to the U.S. national team. Even so, the three-time Women’s World Cup champions had no desire to go easy on a lesser opponent in their opening game.
Goals matter in the group stage.
And statements matter in soccer’s biggest tournament.
“Obviously we have the utmost respect for everyone we play, but it’s the World Cup,” said captain Megan Rapinoe.
Alex Morgan tied the tournament record with five goals and the United States opened with a historic 13-0 rout of Thailand on Tuesday night. Samantha Mewis and Rose Lavelle each added a pair of goals for the United States, which broke the record for goals and margin of victory in a World Cup game.
Rapinoe, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also scored. The previous record margin was Germany’s 11-0 victory over Argentina in 2007.
Morgan tied Michelle Akers’ record for World Cup goals, set in the quarterfinals against Taiwan in 1991. The team’s seven different scorers also set a tournament record.
Lloyd, 36, became the oldest American woman to score at a World Cup and joined Germany’s Birgit Prinz as the only players to score in five straight World Cup games.
The United States faced criticism over its relentless attack. The Americans led 3-0 at the break and then broke the match open in the second half, with the players celebrating goal after goal.
The Americans meant no disrespect, said Morgan, but they simply wanted to position themselves for a run at a second consecutive title.
“We really just came into the game really wanting to showcase ourselves,” Morgan said. “Every goal matters in this tournament and that’s what we were working on.”
Asked about the lopsided score, U.S. coach Jill Ellis wondered if a 10-0 victory in a men’s World Cup would elicit the same questions.
“This is a world championship, so every team here has been fantastic to get to this point. And I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents, and as Alex said, it’s a tournament where goal differential is important,” Ellis said.
The two teams were the last to kick off in the group stage for the monthlong tournament.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, the Americans had dropped only one match in their previous 38, a loss to France in Le Havre in January. The team had six straight wins going into the World Cup.
In the other Group F match, Kosovare Asllani’s goal after a weather delay broke up a scoreless stalemate in Rennes and Sweden went on to spoil Chile’s debut in the tournament.
Thunder prompted a delay in the match in the 72nd minute. It was resumed about 40 minutes later.
Asllani’s goal, Sweden’s 60th in World Cup play, came in the 83rd minute. Madelen Janogy came in off the bench and added a goal in stoppage time for the Swedes, who are ranked No. 9 in the world.
Chile, ranked No. 39 and the fifth South American team to play in a World Cup, was hurt in the 59th minute when Maria Urrutia was injured and had to be stretchered off. It was about the same time that heavy rains moved in at Roazhon Park.
Earlier in La Havre, Jill Roord came off the bench and scored in stoppage time to give the Netherlands a 1-0 victory over New Zealand in Group E.