The United States women's national team cruised to an 8-0 victory over Paraguay on the strength of an Alex Morgan hat trick on Tuesday at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati.
The USWNT was widely expected to win after dispatching Paraguay 9-0 in their friendly last Thursday. Carli Lloyd accounted for five of those goals on her own, and Vlatko Andonovski's squad had a six-goal lead by halftime.
The players worked even more expediently in the return fixture as the U.S. was up 5-0 by the 15th minute.
Rose Lavelle made the most of her return home. The Cincinnati native fired a header past Alicia Bobadilla in the fourth minute for the United States' first goal.
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
The hometown kid opens the scoring!<a href="https://twitter.com/roselavelle?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@roselavelle</a> finishes a beautiful cross to put the <a href="https://twitter.com/USWNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USWNT</a> up 1-0 🌹👏 <a href="https://t.co/VHTRkzCdIS">pic.twitter.com/VHTRkzCdIS</a>
The 26-year-old then assisted Sophia Smith and Morgan as the USWNT's lead widened. For Smith, it was her first goal with the national team, and she demonstrated how easily the U.S. was carving up Paraguay's defense.
Lavelle completed her own hat trick of assists in the 15th minute after her pass guided Catarina Macario forward to slot a right-footed shot into the bottom corner. The FS1 broadcast was just wrapping up a replay of Morgan's second goal and nearly missed the move altogether.
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
The goals keep coming for the <a href="https://twitter.com/USWNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USWNT</a> 🙌<a href="https://twitter.com/catarinamacario?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@catarinamacario</a> makes it 5-0 in the first 15 minutes of play <a href="https://t.co/kGgM24iwq9">pic.twitter.com/kGgM24iwq9</a>
The USWNT was scoring at will and could've plausibly reached double digits if it kept its foot on the gas. Instead, the team eased up a bit for the remainder of the first half and remained content with a five-goal cushion.
Morgan nabbed her third in the 53rd minute as the United States regained its attacking verve, and Lloyd poked home the seventh in the 78th minute.
Macario capped off the offensive frenzy in the 82nd minute with the most aesthetically pleasing goal of the match. She lined up a right-footed volley on the edge of the 18-yard box and fired it past a diving Bobadilla.
Paraguay is 50th in FIFA's women world ranking, so these friendlies didn't provide much of a chance to learn anything new about the United States. If anything, the 17-0 combined score raised questions as to whether this was a sensible scheduling strategy for either country.
Tuesday night did at least showcase the future of the USWNT's attack. Lloyd is retiring, and the likes of Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe are probably in their last World Cup cycle.
Smith turned 21 in August, and she'll be among the young stars to carry the torch once the veterans have moved on. Macario's creativity in midfield will be invaluable, too, as she grows more comfortable in the national team.
These exhibitions aren't stiff tests to challenge the USWNT's mettle but provide some good experience for the younger generation.
The U.S. returns to action Oct. 21 for the first of two friendlies with South Korea.