It took just 12 seconds for the United States Women’s National Team to net the first goal in their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship opener on Wednesday night, and Hope Solo and her squad cruised to victory from there.
Alex Morgan found the net in record time against Costa Rica, putting the American side on the board in just 12 seconds, and that goal proved to be the game-winner as Hope kept the sheet clean for a full 90 minutes in a 5-0 victory at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
“For me, it’s almost a perfect start,” US coach Jill Ellis said of the win. “We were able to check off a lot of boxes.”
Hope checked the box on shutout No. 92 for her career and the USWNT back line of Meghan Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger and Julie Johnston were tremendous as usual. Costa Rica managed just two shots and No. 1 erased both to tally her 141st win in her 187th cap—all standing USWNT records for goalkeepers.
The American women also didn’t allow that stunning first goal by Morgan—the fastest in the team’s 31-year history and the quickest in CONCACAF qualifying history—to diminish their intensity whatsoever. Eight minutes later, Crystal Dunn made a brilliant move through the middle of the box, causing Costa Rica’s Melissa Herrera to commit a foul. That sent Carli Lloyd to the penalty spot, and the veteran struck a low, hard shot into the left corner to make it 2-nil.
Six minutes later, the Americans struck again, this time the play began with Sauerbrunn, whose long throw-in from the left corner found Lindsey Horan, who headed the ball to Morgan. Though she was denied her second goal of the night’s by Costa Rican keeper Diannia Diaz, the rebound caromed to Dunn, who was also turned away by the keeper. However, Dunn stuck with it, and finally blasted it through off a sliding defender, for her second goal of the game, to further pad the U.S. lead.
With a 3-nil halftime lead and Hope at her very best between the pipes, the United States remained in control for the final 45 minutes. In the 62nd minute, Morgan registered her second goal and gave the Americans even more insurance. Lloyd welcomed a pass down the right side and weighted a ball perfectly to Morgan, who was waiting at the far post, where she headed it home to make it a 4-0 margin.
Ellis took opportunity to send in three subs: first 22-year-old Jaelene Hinkle and 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, both in the 68th minute. A few minutes later Christen Press came on, and it was Press who added the final tally. In the 83rd minute, Tobin Heath sent a ball through from the corner of the 18-yard box in to Press. In a showcase of technical brilliance and flair, Press back heeled the ball, controlling it with a first touch before scoring the fifth goal.
The USWNT will be back in action on Saturday in a game that will likely decide the top seed of Group A.
Mexico overwhelmed Puerto Rico 6-0 in the tournament opener on Thursday. Thus, the U.S. and Mexico sit in a tie atop Group A, with three points each.
The U.S. last played Mexico in May of 2015. The Americans cruised to a 5-1 victory in their pre-World Cup send-off series. In their last four meetings, the USWNT has outscored Mexico a combined 20-1.
This match is set for a 1 p.m. PT kickoff at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas and will air on NBC Live Extra.
- WNT Opens 2016 Olympic Qualifying with Big 5-0 Win vs. Costa Rica (US Soccer, Feb. 10, 2016)
- USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with easy 5-0 win over Costa Rica (Stars and Stripes FC, Feb. 10, 2016)
- U.S. Women rout Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying opener (Sports Illustrated, Feb. 10, 2016)
- Morgan leads USA to flying start in Olympic qualifying (FOX Soccer, Feb. 10, 2016)
- US opens Olympic qualifying with 5-0 win over Costa Rica (AP, Feb. 10, 2016)