FRISCO, Texas — Fast, furious and very fun, the U.S. women's national team came out smoking in its first Olympic qualifying match at Toyota Stadium, drilling Costa Rica 5-0 in a terrific start in its quest to qualify for a sixth consecutive Olympics.
The victorious match was also resounding confirmation that this vaunted U.S. team continues, year after year, to re-create itself in commanding form from a deep and eager pool of talent.
The U.S. was on the board in a blistering 12 seconds. And even though U.S. coach Jill Ellis suggested that the U.S. get off to a fast start in this CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, Alex Morgan's opener exceeded all expectation.
It is believed to be the fastest goal in the 31-year history of the U.S. women's national team. It is the fastest in CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying history. The previous record was held by Abby Wambach, who scored in 35 seconds versus the Dominican Republic on Jan. 20, 2012.
Best of all, it took a village to create the awesome opening goal. Six U.S. players got a piece of the action. Off the opening kickoff, Crystal Dunn rolled the ball back to Morgan Brian, who knocked it over to Lindsey Horan, who launched a perfect, long serve to a sprinting Carli Lloyd, who flicked a header forward to a streaking Morgan, who took it on one bounce and booted it into the net with her right foot.
Costa Rica was stunned as the Americans huddled in mass celebration, their night off to exactly the kind of fast start Ellis said was needed against Costa Rica, another World Cup team that the U.S. will face in Group A play, along with Mexico.
In the ninth minute, Lloyd put the U.S. ahead 2-0. The newly crowned FIFA Women's World Player of the Year converted a penalty kick after Dunn was tripped for a foul just inside the box.
In the 15th minute, Dunn — the reigning NWSL MVP — showed her tenacity by knocking a rebound past Costa Rica goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz, giving the U.S. a 3-0 lead and putting the game into fast-paced cruise control for the Americans.
Lloyd and Morgan — the new tandem at the top of the U.S. attack now — connected again on the fourth U.S. goal in the 62nd minute. From outside the right side of the box, Lloyd centered a high pass to Morgan, who rose and headed the ball past Diaz.
It was Morgan's 59th goal and, if there was concern that Lloyd and Morgan would need a little time to perfect their timing and chemistry, the pair of goals they teamed up for against Costa Rica should put that theory to rest. Morgan was named the player of the match for her pair of goals.
Christen Press, who came on as a sub for Julie Johnston in the 74th minute, proved that her new role suits her, collecting a pass inside the box and adding the fifth U.S. goal in the 83rd minute.
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