It was originally planned as the start of a victory tour, but it turned out to be a healthy dose of healing seasoned with a swan song as the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated Thailand 9-0 Thursday evening at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
After a stunning quarterfinal exit at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the U.S. women were looking to press the reset button and return to their winning ways. Led by a dominating performance from Carli Lloyd, they did just that, swamping an overmatched opponent with three goals in the first five minutes of play to put the match out of reach before it had a chance to get started.
The first flurry of goals could have been from a Hollywood script, given the game’s context. Playing in her final international match for the United States, Heather O’Reilly made sure she went out on a winning note, serving the cross that Lloyd headed in for the game’s first goal a mere 40 seconds into the contest. Lloyd set up the second goal by deflecting a Tobin Heath pass to a wide-open Christen Press, then created the centerpiece moment of the night. She carried the ball deep into the left side of the penalty area to draw the defenders, then laid it back to the penalty mark, where an onrushing O’Reilly one-timed it into the net for a 3-0 lead after less than five minutes of play. It marked O’Reilly’s 47th and final international career goal.
O’Reilly concludes a stellar 15-year international career that includes 231 caps, three Olympic gold medals and three World Cup appearances, including a long-awaited win in 2015.
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Lloyd ended the game with her seventh hat trick of her career, while Alex Morgan tallied two goals in the closing minutes of the match. Tobin Heath and Crystal Dunn also found the net for the U.S. Team USA launched 36 shots, 16 of which were on frame, while Thailand could muster only seven attempts, two on goal.
The U.S. women return to action on Sunday, when they face the Netherlands in a friendly in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.