At the moment, the U.S. women's national team is everything you want from a team defending a World Cup title: fluid, saucy, and ruthless.
At the Stade Auguste-Delaune stadium in Reims, France, on Tuesday evening, the USA completely and utterly dismantled Thailand by a margin of 13-0. Alex Morgan registered a ridiculous five goals, multiple Americans scored their first goals for their country, and all the Thai players could do — over and over again it seemed — was throw their hands in the air and hang their heads. This one was over before it started.
Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis each scored two, and Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsey Horan, and Carli Lloyd each added a goal as well.
The U.S. thought they had scored just minutes into the game, but Morgan saw a goal discounted by an offsides call. Not too much later, though, the star striker got her chance — the first of her three on the day, and one of many occasions when she was almost completely unmarked in the box:
Morgan's third goal was the prettiest of them all. A fantastic touch controlled a sharp pass into the box, she pulled the ball back behind her right leg, squared to the net, and launched a missile into the opposite side of the net.
The game was an auspicious beginning for their World Cup ambitions and, hopefully for Jill Ellis' side, overcoming the disappointment of their last major tournament's disappointment — back in the 2016 Olympics when the U.S. were knocked out in the quarterfinals vs Sweden.
The disparity between the teams was apparent from the beginning, reflected well in the official FIFA women's ranking. The U.S. are ranked No. 1 while Thailand slots in at No. 38.
The scoreline was one thing, but the manner in which the U.S. destroyed Thailand was another. The Americans controlled nearly three-quarters of the possessions, tallied over three dozen shots, and hardly let their opponents get a sniff of the ball in dangerous areas. Players like Tobin Heath displayed their creativity without a hint of fear or reserve, and that should put the rest of the world on notice. France may be the hosts — and they looked excellent in their opening win — but the United States are hungry.
There will certainly come a time in this tournament when the U.S. are tested, when they actually need to play defense, but you couldn't have scripted a better start.