X

USA vs. Costa Rica Women's Soccer: Score and Reaction for 2016 Friendly

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 23, 2016

United States forward Mallory Pugh (2) is congratulated by Crystal Dunn (16) after scoring against Costa Rica in the first half of a women's international friendly soccer match, Friday, July. 22, 2016, in Kansas City, Kan. Looking on is defender Meghan Klingenberg (7) and forward Alex Morgan (13). (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

The United States women's national soccer team had a full Olympic squad in tow for Friday's friendly against Costa Rica at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, and their firepower was on full display in a dominant 4-0 victory. 

Crystal Dunn hit the crossbar with a shot in the seventh minute, but made up for the close call shortly thereafter when she opened the scoring with a goal at the 15-minute mark.

U.S. Soccer showed the sequence that led to Dunn's tally:

Sebastian Salazar of CSN Mid-Atlantic was a bit more critical of Dunn's performance despite the positive signs she showed:

Sebastian Salazar @SebiSalazarFUT

Love Crystal Dunn but still think she needs to be a bit more precise w/final third passing. Missed a couple connections in 1st half. #USWNT

Even the harshest critics will find it challenging to poke any holes in Mallory Pugh's game, though.

The 18-year-old prodigy had her turn to get in on the action, continuing to play beyond her years on the international stage with an insurance goal in the 22nd minute.

One soccer legend in particular took notice of Pugh:

Mia Hamm @MiaHamm

Speed kills but technical speed absolutely annihilates defenders . Mallory Pugh is for real.

U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg set up both of the initial goals and has become a capable catalyst for the attack. ESPN Stats & Info's Paul Carr highlighted her impact in the calendar year:

Paul Carr @PaulCarrTM

Meghan Klingenberg has four assists in 15 #USWNT games this year. She had one assist in 50 int'l games entering 2016.

Seven minutes of stoppage time was tacked on to the end of the first half. That wound up working in Team USA's favor in a big way.

Just to extinguish any hopes of a Costa Rica comeback before any momentum was mounted, Carli Lloyd found the back of the net on a brilliant header at 45'+6'.

Lloyd getting on the scoresheet was a great sign, because she dealt with a Grade 1 MCL sprain earlier this year and is such a key cog on the team. The 34-year-old veteran came to prominence after scoring a hat trick in the 2015 World Cup final.

U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt

It was @CarliLloyd's 9th goal of 2016 & first since her injury. She has 88 internat'l goals & is 12 away from 100. https://t.co/4hkFmZTNc4

Not long into the second half in the 49th minute, Lindsey Horan clanged a kick off the inside of the post that would've made the score 4-0.

That lead was eventually realized when Christen Press, who substituted for Alex Morgan, tacked on another in the 79th minute.

Costa Rica was on its heels the entire evening and only mustered one shot, which was off-target. The underdogs were essentially at the mercy of the USA's execution on offense.

Considering the last time Costa Rica and the U.S. met in February—the Americans prevailed 5-0—Friday's outcome wasn't much of a surprise. It was the final tune-up fixture before the USA takes its talents to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympics.

Former NFL star Chad Johnson was among those impressed with the USA's showing:

Last year's World Cup triumph was a springboard for the Stars and Stripes, and there's little reason to bet against the team as the favorite for the gold medal.

Japan figures to be a top challenger, considering it defeated the U.S. in the 2011 World Cup finale before losing in last year's final. Otherwise the Americans proved against Costa Rica they are in fine form and appear on course for greatness in Rio.

The fact Klingenberg continues to provide an offensive spark and Pugh perpetually redefines expectations, the U.S. figures to be all the more formidable in its pursuit of its fifth gold medal in six Olympic tournaments.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.