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Soccer

Women’s World Cup: U.S. sets multiple records in rout of Thailand

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U.S. forward Alex Morgan heads the ball for a goal against Thailand during a Women’s World Cup game Tuesday in France.
(Thomas Samson / AFP/Getty Images)

It was the most one-sided game in World Cup history.

And it wasn’t that close.

The U.S. women’s 13-0 rout of Thailand in their tournament opener Tuesday was a rout wrapped in a mauling inside an embarrassment. And with Alex Morgan scoring five times, it was a game that featured almost as many records as it did goals:

--The 13 goals were the most in a World Cup game, regardless of gender, and the margin of victory was also the largest ever, surpassing Germany’s 11-0 win over Argentina in the Women’s Cup opener in 2011. It was also more than the U.S. men’s team has scored in the last four World Cup tournaments combined.

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--Morgan’s five goals matches the World Cup record set by Michelle Akers in 1991 and tied by Russia’s Oleg Salenko in the men’s tournament in 1994. And she could have had more, losing a goal in the fifth minute to an offside call that was so close it took a video replay to confirm.

-- With Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis supporting Morgan with two goals apiece, it was the first time a team has had three players score more than one goal in a Women’s World Cup game. And the seven scorers overall tied a record.

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U.S. midfielder Sam Mewis, left, celebrates with forward Megan Rapinoe after scoring a goal Tuesday against Thailand.
(Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Getty Images)

“It’s how you want to start a tournament,” coach Jill Ellis said. “You want to have that feeling. It is about building momentum. It is about that first game until your belt.

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“That feeling, that’s the biggest takeaway for us.”

Others came away with a different feeling. Because with the U.S. scoring six of its goals — including three by Morgan — in the final 16 minutes, the Americans found themselves answering almost as many questions about running up the score and they did about the score itself.

“I’ll be honest. I sit here and I go, ‘If this had been 10-nil in a men’s World Cup, would we be getting the same questions?’” Ellis said. “A World Cup, it is about competing. It is about peaking.”

None of those complaints came from the Thai side.

“We accept the score,” Thailand coach Nuengruethai Srathongvian said through an interpreter. “We haven’t done enough. In a football game, everybody is following the rules. We don’t have any excuse.”

The game was the last of 12 group-play openers. And with France, Brazil and Spain all posting impressive wins in their first games, the defending champions admitted there was some pressure to put up a marker of their own.

“We wanted to make a statement,” said midfielder Julie Ertz, who started at center back in place of the injured Becky Sauerbrunn. “We wanted to kind of show all the tools we have.”

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But this game was a mismatch long before the team buses arrived. Because for all the talk about growing parity in women’s soccer and the narrowing of the gap between the top teams and rest of the field, a lack of funding and institutional support at home has turned that gap into a chasm for countries like Thailand.

The Thais, for example, have one Women’s World Cup win in their history; the U.S. has won three World Cup titles. Thailand has lost 12 of its last 13 games dating back 10 months; the U.S. has lost once in 39 games dating back nearly 22 months.

“We’re a developing program. We all know that,” said Thai forward Miranda Nild, who played college soccer at California, Morgan’s alma mater.

The Thais were shown little mercy just the same, getting outshot 40-2 — 25-1 in the second half — with the U.S. putting 20 of those shots on target. Morgan started the scoring in the 12th minute with a header from inside the six-yard box. Lavelle made it 2-0 with a low left-footed shot from outside the penalty area in the 20th minute before Lindsey Horan closed the first-half scoring with a wicked shot from close range that went into the roof of the net.

But the Americans never stopped coming with Mewis scoring twice and Morgan and Lavelle getting a goal apiece in a six-minute blitz early in the second half. Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also scored, with Lloyd getting the final goal two minutes into stoppage time.

“It wasn’t, ‘We need to score as many as we possibly can,’” said defender Kelley O’Hara, who, like her teammates, was not aware any records had been set until after the game. “It was you want to go out and show what we’re made of and what we’re capable of.”

But, she added, by continuing to play hard, the U.S. was actually showing its respect to Thailand.

“If you’re just knocking it around the back and playing keep-away, I don’t think that’s the best form,” she said.

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Ellis agreed.

“Every team that is here has been fantastic to get to this point,” she said. “To be respectful to opponents is to play hard against them. It’s a tournament where goal differential is a criteria.

“I respect Thailand, I spoke to some of them afterwards and they should keep their heads up. This is part of the growth of the game.”

And then Ellis added an warning for Chile, her team’s next opponent.

“There’s always things that you can refine and polish,” she said.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com | Twitter: @kbaxter11


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