As soon as the U.S. women’s soccer team won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, all eyes turned to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. But before the reigning Olympic gold medalists can defend their title, they face one final hurdle: getting there.
The U.S. took one step in that direction on Wednesday. In its first match of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, the U.S. left no doubt with a 5-0 win over Costa Rica.
The first goal came just 12 seconds after the opening whistle, as Alex Morgan hit the back of the net off a cross from Lindsey Horan. Morgan’s goal is the fastest in CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying history, beating the previous record of 35 seconds, held by the recently retired Abby Wambach.
“I feel good just about the fact that we started off the game and this tournament really well with that goal,” Morgan said. “I think we shot their confidence a little bit. We’ve been working on that play and I’m happy we executed it perfectly.”
Morgan’s teammates wasted no time in tacking on some insurance. Just nine minutes later, Crystal Dunn was taken down inside the penalty box and awarded a penalty that was taken – and converted on – by Carli Lloyd. Lloyd has scored 20 goals in Team USA’s last 15 matches dating back to the Round of 16 at the World Cup.
Following two goals by two national team veterans, the newcomer Dunn added her name to the score sheet in the 15th minute with her fifth career international goal. That would be the last goal of the first half, as Hope Solo made two saves in the U.S. end to hold serve.
Morgan ended the scoring drought in the 61st minute with her second goal of the night, capitalizing on several key mistakes by Costa Rica and connecting with her head on a cross by Lloyd. Playing off the bench, Christen Press converted a pass from Tobin Heath in the 83rd minute to bring the score to 5-0.
“I think we did some really good things tonight,” said Lloyd, who wore the captain’s armband. “I thought overall we brought the fight and scored some great goals. Now we’ve got to put this one to bed and get ready for Mexico.”
The U.S. will face Mexico in the second game of the group stage on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. CT.