U.S. Takes Apart Thailand and the Record Book at the Women’s World Cup

U.S. Takes Apart Thailand and the Record Book at the Women’s World Cup

U.S. Takes Apart Thailand and the Record Book at the Women’s World Cup

REIMS, France — The referee’s whistle reverberated through the Stade Auguste-Delaune late Tuesday night, and Sukanya Chor Charoenying, the goalkeeper for the Thailand national soccer team, bent over, put her hands on her knees and stared straight down at the ground.

Thirteen times over the previous 90 minutes she had watched the ball whiz beyond her grasp and into the goal. Thirteen times she turned to retrieve it. Thirteen times she watched the United States players celebrate, every time as ecstatically as the time before, as music blared deafeningly from the speakers and the pro-American crowd at the sold-out stadium howled in delight.

Seconds passed. Chor Charoenying fiddled with the shin guards tucked inside her yellow socks, her eyes still locked on the grass. Finally, someone came over to touch her shoulder.

“I don’t know if she could understand me,” said Carli Lloyd, who scored the final goal for the Americans in a 13-0 razing of Thailand in their opening match of this World Cup. Still, Lloyd pulled Chor Charoenying close and spoke directly into her ear.

“As a goalkeeper, to let in that many goals, you probably feel absolutely awful,” Lloyd said later, paraphrasing the conversation. “But I just told her that she had a phenomenal game and she came up with some great saves, and just to hold her head high and for her and the team to keep fighting. I just wanted to make sure she knew that.”

Afterward, Lloyd shrugged when asked whether it had ever crossed the mind of any American player to perhaps slow down, not to hunt so aggressively for a goal, once the imbalance of the score began to feel absurd.

“Whenever you have that mind-set, it’s not good,” Lloyd said. “You never want to beat up on a team that bad. But for us, the goals matter. In this tournament, it’s important. So we just have to keep that throttle down.”

There were too many goals to begin to describe them all in a newspaper article. But these were the scorers and the minutes when the goals came: Alex Morgan (12th), Rose Lavelle (20th), Lindsey Horan (32nd), Sam Mewis (50th), Morgan (53rd), Mewis (54th), Lavelle (56th), Morgan (74th), Megan Rapinoe (79th), Morgan (81st), Mallory Pugh (85th), Morgan (87th), and, finally, Lloyd (92nd).

It was the first time a team had scored 13 goals in a World Cup game — men’s or women’s — and the margin of victory was the largest for a match in either tournament. Morgan’s five goals equaled a record for a Women’s World Cup game set by Michelle Akers of the United States in 1991.

After securing a hat trick, which made the score 8-0, Morgan turned around and walked toward the center circle. After her fourth goal, she held out her fist and emphatically unraveled her fingers — one, two, three, four — before being mobbed by her teammates. After her fifth, she ran all the way to the sideline and took her place in a hastily choreographed group dance.

Morgan, who said she felt now that she was in “peak form,” was asked how she balanced the visceral impulse to celebrate with any desire to maintain a level of sportsmanship.

“In the moment, every time we score a goal in the World Cup — I’ve dreamed of it since I was a little girl,” Morgan said. “When it comes to celebrations, I think this was a really good team performance tonight, and I think it was important for us to celebrate with each other.”

For Jill Ellis, the United States coach, the desire to create confidence among her players seemed to be the main objective in a match that pitted the world’s No. 1 team against No. 34 and, as such, was never expected to be close.

In the 57th minute, for instance, after a run of four goals in six minutes, Ellis used her first two substitutions to insert two forwards, Lloyd and Christen Press, who could reasonably be called two of the best attacking players in the world despite their roles as reserves for the United States.