Here’s what you need to know:
Rose Lavelle, center, scored twice for the United States.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press
And Carli Lloyd gets the last one. (We think.) 13-0.
Lloyd, one of the captains, gets that goal she wanted. It’s a baker’s dozen now, and Katie Perry’s “Roar” comes on the loudspeakers. Well, the United States has certainly done that tonight.
Absolutely no mercy from the defending champs.
12-0. Morgan. Again. You may have read this before.
That’s five for Alex Morgan, tying the team record for goals in a World Cup match. So, Alex, how’d your day go?
Three minutes of stoppage time coming and the consensus in press row is: why?
11-0! Stop the fight! STOP THE FIGHT!
Pugh, running like a thoroughbred right to left through the area, slots home for No. 11.
A reminder that the United States has four forwards on the field in the 85th minute of an 11-0 game. Mewis is trying to take control in the midfield, asking her teammates to cycle the ball back and around.
Morgan has her fourth. And the U.S. reaches double digits.
This has become a free-for-all now, and torment for those of us trying to keep track. Morgan scores her 10th with one of her feet into one of the corners, and let’s be honest: Does either fact really matter at this point? This has just been a stunning exhibition of offensive firepower.
Lloyd almost made it 11 with a sitter in the goalmouth but sent it over the bar.
Rapinoe! 9-0! This record may stand for a while.
A counterattack adds the cherry (we think). Rapinoe drills a sliding shot from the spot on a lovely cross by Pugh on the break.
That’s Morgan’s hat trick, and the record.
Press feeds Morgan at the top of the area and she takes one dribble, then two to free herself for a right-to-left shot into the corner. That’s three for Morgan, and eight for the United States.
It’s also one short of the final the last time these teams met, in 2016.
We’re in record territory now for the United States.
Their biggest win at the World Cup was a 7-0 victory over Chinese Taipei at the 1991 World Cup. Michelle Akers scored five times that day.
And Ellis just took off Ertz, a center back tonight, and sent on Mallory Pugh, a wing. U.S. formation is now a comically attacking 3-3-4 setup. Did Thailand offend Ellis or something?
Taneekam Dangda, a second-half substitute, shows one of the risks of rubbing it in: She chops down O’Hara as she cuts inside and gets a yellow card. Not a dirty foul but a hard one from a tired team. The last thing the Americans need in this game is a late injury, even if it was accidental.
Substitutes for the United States, no relief for Thailand.
It’s a measure of how frightening the United States can be in attack that Thailand can breathe a sigh of relief at seeing the backs of Heath and Lavelle, who are subbed off, only to see Carli Lloyd and Christen Press run on.
It takes Lloyd all of two minutes to get her first shot, and all of three before Press takes one.
54’, and then 56’
Mewis! 6-0! Lavelle! 7-0! Do not look away from your screens.
One minute after Morgan’s second, Mewis gets hers. But I can’t even type it up before Lavelle gets HER second with a cool finish right in front.
It’s 7-0, and we’re starting to feel for the Thais here. Uh oh, now Carli Lloyd and Christen Press are on for Lavelle and Heath. We may not be done with goals here.
GOAL! Morgan with her second!
Ertz heads on a free kick from deep on the right and it’s 5-0 after Morgan stabs it in. Goals coming fast now.
GOAL! Mewis makes it 4-0 with a quick turn.
Mewis, receiving the ball from Rapinoe at the left edge of the area, takes a simple touch and lets her shot rip. The ball glances off a Thai defender, though, and ripples the net before Chor Charoenying can do anything about. It’s 4-0 now, the same score France had in its opener.
No changes for either team, but the stats tell a story.
The United States outshot Thailand by 15-1 in the first half, and had 73 percent of the possession. Both of those statistics seem a fair reflection of the first 45 minutes.
That went exactly as everyone expected it would go.
Three goals, little danger and everyone getting some exercise and a confidence boost. (And bonus: no injuries.) That was exactly the way the United States wanted to arrive in the World Cup. They and Thailand were the last teams to kick a ball in France, but this performance is on track to be the highest-scoring match of the first round. Regardless of the opposition — and Thailand hasn’t offered a ton — that will send a message.
Dominance all over the field for the United States.
The United States has been so dominant tonight that it can sometimes be hard to tell who is playing where. Dunn and O’Hara are repeatedly getting forward of the midfielders ostensibly playing in front of them. But Dunn also has roamed inside, and Horan has drifted to the far-side touchline. Lavelle is free to go wherever she wants. And the center backs Ertz and Dahlkemper are pressing so far forward that each has been beyond the center circle in Thailand’s half at times.
Even Naeher, who has had almost nothing to do in goal, has crept forward so that she’s spent most of her night outside the penalty area, Manuel Neuer-style.
As I typed that, the U.S. got four shots off in quick succession, battering the poor Chor Charoenying once again, but she and her defenders gamely fight off each one. Horan tries to win a penalty at the end of the sequence, but Fortunato — again — isn’t having it.
GOAL! Horan scores after some free-kick deception.
Lindsey Horan makes it 3-0 with what may prove to be one of the easier goals of her career. Rapinoe and Tobin Heath lined up over a free kick won by Heath at the top of the 18 on the right, and, after both run up, it’s Heath that takes it.
The play looked botched early, a ball simply driven into a clutch of players in the goalmouth, but it hit a couple and fell flat right at Horan’s feet: She pounced and roofed her shot, and it’s 3-0 at the half-hour mark.
That was a penalty, but Thailand escapes.
Mewis was pulled down in the box, but the Argentine referee doesn’t give it. The television monitors indicated a V.A.R. review of the play was underway, but the referee, Laura Fortunato, urged the goalkeeper to take the goal kick, and once she hit it, there was no way to go back for review. Odd decision(s).
LAVELLE! It’s 2-0 on a long-range shot.
That was quick. Lavelle took a couple of dribbles in the center, snuck a peek and decided to take a rip from the top of the circle. Her left-footed strike gave the goalkeeper almost no chance. And just like that, the Americans have doubled their lead.
GOAL! Morgan again, and this one counts.
Two crosses pinged across the box were bound to produce something. O’Hara collected a loose ball at the top of the area and drove right before chipping the ball back into the middle. Morgan ghosted off the center back just a step and it fell right to her forehead. Boom. 1-0.
U.S. GOAL! Nope. Morgan was offside.
The initial pressure is all one way, unsurprisingly, and Mewis takes the first shot — a rocket from outside the area that Chor Charoenying fumbles but saves. The next rush up results in a goal — briefly — on a gorgeous long cross from O’Hara to Horan that Morgan helps over the line.
But Morgan was offside, so we stay scoreless.
This will be a U.S.-flavored crowd tonight.
Andrew Keh was in town all day and reports on the scene:
United States supporters have flocked in big numbers to Reims, a small university city northeast of Paris that is considered the capital of France’s Champagne wine region.
The 9 p.m. local start time meant they had plenty of time during the day to stream through the city streets, congregate at sidewalk cafes and take in the local sights, like the impressive 13th-century Reims Cathedral.
Local officials estimated that Americans would account for about half of the sellout crowd at the cozy, 21,000-capacity Stade Auguste-Delaune. After a long early evening downpour, the skies gradually cleared up as kickoff approached.
When the American team ran out for warm-ups about 45 minutes before kickoff, even the half-full stadium let out a mighty roar.
Starting lineups: Horan and Mewis are in, Sauerbrunn is out
The big question for the United States was whether Lindsey Horan, who hasn’t been fully fit this spring, or Sam Mewis, who looked great in the final tuneups, would start alongside Rose Lavelle in the midfield.
The answer has come in an unexpected way: Both will start against Thailand, but center back Becky Sauerbrunn will not. Sauerbrunn has what U.S. Soccer is calling a quadriceps “issue” — not an injury. Basically, she’s feeling something, and with Thailand as the first opponent, the coaches decided — to paraphrase one federation official — “why risk it?”
The good news for the U.S. is that Sauerbrunn’s replacement, Julie Ertz, just slides back from her midfield spot into the role she starred in at Canada 2015.
United States starting lineup: Allysa Naeher; Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Julie Ertz, Kelley O’Hara; Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan; Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath.
Thailand starting lineup: Cal’s Miranda Nild starts up top
We don’t expect many of you are familiar with the Thai team, but one player to watch is the center forward, Miranda Nild. She is the California-raised daughter of a Thai father, and played more recently for the University of California, Berkeley. That also happens to be Alex Morgan’s alma mater, and they met briefly in a hallway in Reims yesterday for the first time.
Thailand’s starting lineup: Chor Charoenying; Srangthaisong, Chinwong, Saekhun, Phetwiset; Thongsombut; Intamee, Phancha, Boothduang, Sung-Ngoen; Nild.
At long last, the World Cup begins for the United States
The United States and Thailand are the final two teams to kick a ball in this World Cup, which opened four weeks — O.K., four days — ago with France’s thumping of Korea in Paris. The Americans had only just arrived in France that day so, perhaps not surprisingly, they are straining at the leash to get started.
“Excitement would be the best word to describe where I am personally and where our players are,” United States Coach Jill Ellis said Thursday at her prematch news conference. “I think when the tournament kicks off and you watch the games, the anticipation for your first match grows. So I think the players are ready, excited, hungry.”
The United States has not played since strolling through a sendoff victory against Mexico on May 27 in New Jersey. The day after that match, the team flew to London and — at Ellis’s insistence — went off the grid for about a week of preparations. They resurfaced briefly for a few days of interviews notable mostly for Megan Rapinoe’s declaring France, not the United States, the favorite to win the tournament.
“I think all the pressure’s on them,” she said.
[For the U.S. and its coach, a low-key start to a high-stakes month.]
Does the U.S. have a soft spot? (Not today, but maybe later.)
Jill Ellis’s team might have the best attacking lineup in the world, with a front line of Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath backed by a goal-chasing midfield of Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz and, depending on fitness, Lindsey Horan or Sam Mewis. (That Ellis can bring on players equally dangerous — Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh, Christen Press — up front must strike fear into opposing coaches and tiring defenses.)
But even the outside backs — Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara — like to press forward and get involved in attacks. (Dunn plays as a forward for her club team, so her brain is wired to get into the attack.)
That all makes the United States a phenomenal attacking force, but there have been times that aggressiveness has left center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper and even goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher exposed when quick turnovers turn into counterattacks.
Naeher is the first American not named Brianna Scurry or Hope Solo to start a game at the World Cup in two decades, and so some have pointed to her as a potential weak link. Her teammates and coach vehemently disagree — Andrew Keh of The Times wrote about this supposed “weak link” for our preview section — and Naeher frankly doesn’t care what her doubters think of her.
Her distribution out of the back will be important to what the United States does in transition, but it’s worth noting that the team’s ultra-attacking mind-set might be what gets them in trouble at some point (though probably not today) long before Naeher gets involved.
June 11, 2019
June 10, 2019
June 11, 2019