The United States Women's National Team made its 2016 Olympic qualifying debut Wednesday with a 5-0 win over Costa Rica in CONCACAF play at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The victory came on the heels of separate 8-0 and 7-2 victories against their Central American rivals in 2015 and propelled the USWNT to 13-0-0 all-time over Costa Rica.
|2016 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Group A Standings|
The scoring started early, and boy did the Red, White and Blue make it look easy. Right off the opening whistle, Lindsey Horan whipped in a cross for Alex Morgan, who calmly slotted home the game's first goal just 12 seconds in to give her side a 1-0 lead.
According to the team's official Twitter account, it's believed that Morgan's goal was the fastest in U.S. history.
CONCACAF offered a look at Morgan's strike:
Goal USA - No. 13 Alex MORGAN @alexmorgan13 | @ussoccer_wnt @Fedefutbol_CR #CWOQ2016 https://t.co/BU8lDE9ZFu2016-2-11 01:41:36
Nine minutes later, Crystal Dunn was taken down in the box and Carli Lloyd delivered a 2-0 lead to the U.S. with a rifle into the left side of the net from the penalty spot. The goal represented Llyod's ninth in Olympic qualifying and the 83rd of her career, per USWNT on Twitter.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl took note of the United States' early dominance:
Grant Wahl @GrantWahl
Good work by Crystal Dunn to earn the foul. US looking scary for the rest of CONCACAF with 2 goals after 9 minutes.2016-2-11 01:47:50
By the time the first half came to a close, the U.S. owned a 3-0 lead. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the United States has historically crushed opponents in Olympic qualifying:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
#USWNT leads Costa Rica 3-0 U.S. has won all 3 previous Olympic qualifying tournaments, going 13-0-1 and outscoring opponents 75-42016-2-11 02:18:32
The United States continued to apply tremendous offensive pressure throughout the early stages of the second half, and the persistence paid off in the form of Morgan's second goal courtesy of an assist from Lloyd.
Christen Press tacked on one final goal with time winding down to put the finishing touches on a blistering display from the reigning world champions, as CONCACAF documented:
Goal USA - No. 12 Christen PRESS @ChristenPress | @ussoccer_wnt @Fedefutbol_CR #CWOQ2016 https://t.co/0PCr0FwsQA2016-2-11 03:22:29
Showing no signs of slowing down following a 2015 World Cup triumph, the USWNT is within reach of history.
Assuming the Americans can advance out of CONCACAF qualifying and make the trip to Rio de Janeiro this summer, they'll try to become the first team in the history of the sport to capture a World Cup title and a gold medal in back-to-back years, according to Dan Wiersema of the American Outlaws' website.
Considering the Red, White and Blue's track record includes four gold medals in the span of five Olympic competitions since 1996, coach Jill Ellis' side should be heavily favored to repeat when play gets underway in South America.
Olympic qualifying is set to resume Friday, when the U.S. and Mexico will clash at Toyota Center in CONCACAF play as the two sides jockey for position atop the Group A table.
"We knew that goals mattered in terms of exiting the group stage, so we wanted to start out well and I don’t think we could have asked for anything better," Morgan said, according to the Star-Telegram's Travis L. Brown.
Ellis echoed that sentiment shortly after the win, according to the team's official Twitter account:
U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt
"It was the perfect start." - Jill Ellis with a short but fairly accurate description of today's match.2016-2-11 03:56:57
"For us, when we did lose the ball, it was great to see us try to win it back quickly and I feel like there was some goals off of our transition and the fact that our defensive play led to a lot of great chances," Morgan added, per Brown.
But despite the runaway win Wednesday night, the USWNT isn't getting too confident in advance of Friday's crucial showdown with Mexico.
"We can’t dwell on the thing too much," Lloyd said, according to Brown. "We’ve got to kind of put this one to bed and focus our attention on Mexico, but I think overall, some good things."