REIMS, France — By the time referee Laura Fortunato mercifully whistled that the Women's World Cup game was history, some history already had been made during the United States' 13-0 demolition of Thailand on Tuesday.
Striker Alex Morgan connected for five goals in the Group F opener at Stade Auguste-Delaunce, equaling the tournament record set by legendary American forward Michelle Akers in 1991.
The USA total eclipsed the team record held by Germany, which rolled to an 11-0 victory over Argentina in 2007.
The overwhelming performance left the defending champions satisfied but also defending themselves on how much was too much after registering 10 second-half goals. They scored at a clip of once every four and a half minutes when the game essentially was over.
"We know that every goal counts in the group stages and that's why we had to keep going," said Morgan.
That's because goal differential could decide the group winner. With relatively easy opponents in their first two matches — the Americans face Chile in Paris on Sunday —the U.S.'s most difficult group foe will be nemesis Sweden in Le Harve on June 20. In case there is a tie in the match, the Americans need as many goals as possible. Sweden beat Chile on Tuesday, 2-0.
"To be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents and it's a tournament where goal differential is a criteria," U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. "As a coach, I don't find it my job to go harness my players and rein them in because this is what they've dreamt about. This is it for them. This is a world championship."
The Thais bunkered in and were no match for the more experienced, quicker and talented Americans, who pounded away at the goal with 38 shots.
Morgan, who has been on the cover of several magazines including here in France, lived up to the billing as the face of the Team USA. After having a goal nullified because of an offside call, Morgan broke through in the 12th minute, heading home Kelley O'Hara's right-wing cross past goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying.
"To tie Michelle Akers record is obviously incredible, but just even more than that this was such a great team performance for us," said Morgan, who added four goals in the second half (53rd, 74th, 81st and 87th minutes). "We were able to execute on so many chances that we had. We showed how diverse our attack really is."
Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle added two goals each. Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and second-half substitute Carli Lloyd, the 2015 Golden Ball winner who scored in her third consecutive WWC, collected one apiece.
The Americans were scoring at such a furious rate in the second half — six goals in the final 16 minutes — that it was easy for players to lose count.
"Alex getting four goals was crazy," Mewis said.
Someone told her Morgan tallied five.
"Five goals? My God, I thought she got four," Mewis said with a surprised look on her face. "Oh my God, she got five!”
Ellis didn't think her team would become complacent after the rout “because they're on a mission.”
"This is one step in that,” she added. “They understand the mission matters the most. We've got enough experience on that team to know that this is a twist and turn, rollercoaster ride. So, it's making sure they enjoy it this night but they 100 percent know that we've got to continue to grow in this tournament."
Learn more about the Northport High School product's rise up the soccer ladder ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup.