Soccer

Soccer

The United States Women's National Team got off to a record start in its World Cup title defense Tuesday.

The United States routed Thailand 13-0 in Reims, France, scoring more goals in a single game than any other team in the tournament's history. Striker Alex Morgan matched a record with five goals in Group F's second game, eclipsing her combined total from the last two World Cups (three). She also added three assists, becoming the first player to put up that stat line.

Before you ask: Yes, the Americans are that good, and no, they're not bad for the sport. The lopsided scoreline speaks far more to the structural disparities that exist between the top and bottom of the soccer world rather than a lack of respect on the USWNT's part.

To put it simply, the United States had better funding and better players playing for better club teams in a better (and better-funded) league than its opponents.

 

Thailand has appeared in two consecutive World Cups since the tournament expanded to 24 teams; the United States finished no worse than third in each of the first seven women's World Cups. That led to a crooked number on the scoreboard Tuesday, as the USWNT made history.

It probably will be a long time before another team scores as many (or more) goals in a single match. When Tuesday's game is recounted during future World Cups and beyond, which of the 13 goals are going to be worth remembering? We set out to rank all 13, from worst to best.

13. Sam Mewis, 50'


12. Sam Mewis, 54'

No disrespect to the UCLA product, who made her World Cup debut Tuesday. Both of these goals were a result of good fortune -- the first took a deflection off of a Thai defender, and the second purely was a poacher's finish. But the midfielder deserves plenty of credit, having entered the lineup Tuesday while center back Becky Sauerbrunn sat with a quad issue.

Mewis now has four goals in her last four games, and exemplifies the depth that manager Jill Ellis has at her disposal. 

11. Alex Morgan, 81'


10. Alex Morgan, 87'

We firmly remain in the realm of splitting hairs and picking nits with Morgan's final two tallies of the day. Morgan's fifth goal gets the edge in these rankings because of the build-up from the back and her outrageous first touch to create space, but the Cal grad's finish on her fourth marker epitomizes why she is one of the best strikers in the world. 

9. Lindsey Horan, 32'

Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath are the last players opponents want to see line up over the ball on a set piece, and Heath's low, whipped-in cross on USWNT's second goal of the day created a golden opportunity from a dangerous position. The pass was timed just behind Mewis' run in the box, but Horan was there to clean things up.

Once the knockout stages begin, Ellis will be glad she has that card to play. 

8. Mallory Pugh, 85'


7. Carli Lloyd, 92’

These goals were remarkably similar. Two goal-kick turnovers from Thai keeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying, two through balls from Morgan and two tidy finishes.

Lloyd (USWNT's oldest player) gets the edge over Pugh (its youngest) for scoring with the outside of her left foot. Pugh's touch to dribble around Charoenying, however, is worth remembering. 

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6. Rose Lavelle, 20'

Morgan's first of three assists perhaps was her best. She ran back to retrieve O'Hara's lofted pass, holding up play well and then sending Lavelle in on goal. 

5. Alex Morgan, 12'

The USWNT opened its goal-scoring account in France with a strong team move, winning the ball back in midfield and needing just four passes to set up Morgan's header. Kelley O'Hara was fortunate that Rapinoe's deflected pass fell into her path, but Rapinoe drawing the attention of two defenders gave O'Hara plenty of time and space. 

4. Rose Lavelle, 56'

Crystal Dunn's through ball was exceptional, but Mewis' one-touch pass back to Lavelle might have been better.

 

Lavelle's goal sealed her first brace with USWNT, and she was one of three players to score at least two goals on the day. Not bad for a World Cup debut. 

3. Alex Morgan, 53'

Heath struck again with an impeccable free kick about 40 yards away from goal, putting the ball in a perfect spot for her teammates to win a header over the smaller Thai defenders. Horan's headed flick to Morgan was pinpoint accurate, too.

The USWNT won't have the same size advantage as the tournament wears on, but its set-piece dominance conceivably could. 

2. Megan Rapinoe, 79'

A rare counter-attacking goal on a day the United States spent most of its time in the attacking third, strong defending won the ball back. Lloyd then made a smart pass to fellow substitute Christen Press, whose deft dribbling ensured Pugh could place a precise pass in Rapinoe's path.

Full marks to Rapinoe for running nearly the entire length of the field, the sliding finish and the ensuing celebration. 

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1. Alex Morgan, 74' 

Morgan's third goal was her best, and a product of escalatingly impressive moves. She controlled Press' pass and got in shooting position with a tight touch and turn, then created enough space to shoot by rolling the ball from her left foot into the path of her right before finishing past an outstretched Charoenying.

On a day when Morgan's teammates showed off plenty of individual skill, hers really stood out.