Not even a thunderstorm could slow down the United States in the latest chapter of its Women’s World Cup victory tour.
Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly each scored twice and the United States beat Costa Rica 7-2 on Wednesday night in an exhibition game that included an 83-minute weather delay.
Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan also scored for the U.S. in its second friendly since winning the Women’s World Cup six weeks ago. The Americans beat Costa Rica 8-0 on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
“This team is resilient,” O’Reilly said. “We bounce back through games, through tough moments of games and in this situation, it was sort of peculiar circumstances that we were able to show our resilience through.”
The U.S. was playing in Chattanooga a month after the July 16 attacks on two military facilities here that resulted in the deaths of four Marines and a sailor. U.S. players wore black armbands as they took the field, and a moment of silence was held before the game. The American Outlaws fan group broke into sustained applause in the fifth minute of the game to honor the five victims.
U.S. team officials said the U.S. players plan to autograph the jerseys they’re wearing in the game and put them up for auction, with proceeds benefiting the Chattanooga Heroes Fund that supports families of those who were killed or wounded in the attacks.
“Obviously, Chattanooga’s gone through a trying time,” Wambach said. “I think for us to be able to play here, to give some of the people of this city something to cheer for. We want to be a shining light of positivity. I think that we did that this summer. (It was great) for us to go on this 10-game victory tour to some of these cities that might need the lifting up. The crowd is amazing, even amongst the thunderstorms and the lightning. Huge, huge crowd. Huge cheers. Hopefully, we gave the city of Chattanooga something positive to cheer for.”
The U.S. led 2-0 on goals by Lloyd and O’Reilly when lightning in the area forced a weather delay in the 15th minute. Although rain hadn’t started to fall when the game was delayed due to lightning, the stoppage featured heavy rain and dozens of lightning strikes.
“I think we were just hoping these bands of storms we were looking at on our phones would at some point abate,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said.
The majority of the sellout crowd of 20,535 stayed through the rain delay, and those fans were rewarded when the U.S. scored three times in the first 8 minutes after play resumed.
“The crowd was awesome,” Lloyd said. “I think this was probably one of the best crowds that we’ve played in front of. They were loud. They were chanting, screaming. It was really awesome, especially after the rain delay, they still came back and were cheering really loud.”
Wambach started the flurry in the 18th minute by scoring her 184th career international goal on an assist from Lori Chalupny, who announced Monday she was retiring from international competition at the end of this tour. Lloyd scored her second goal 2 minutes later. O’Reilly added her second goal in the 23rd minute with a header off a cross from Wambach.
The U.S. made it 6-0 in the 31st minute when Costa Rica’s Katherine Alvarado inadvertently knocked the ball into her own team’s net. The U.S. team cruised from there to extend its home unbeaten streak to 98 games.
Costa Rica got goals from Cristin Granados in the 41st minute and Karla Villalobos in the 69th minute. Those marked the first two goals Costa Rica has ever scored on the U.S. in 12 meetings.
Morgan closed the scoring in the 81st minute in her first appearance since the Women’s World Cup. Morgan didn’t play Sunday after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her right knee July 17.