On Jan. 23, the U.S. women’s team opened its 2016 campaign with a 5-0 win over Ireland.
In reality, it was an even bigger rout than the score suggests.
Ireland’s defense was atrocious. Carli Lloyd, the one U.S. player that any opponent would want to mark at all times, was allowed to roam freely around the goal. Before the game was 30 minutes old, the score was Lloyd 3, Ireland 0.
On Lloyd’s first goal (in the sixth minute), the Irish defenders managed to leave both her and Alex Morgan unmarked in the box.
On Lloyd’s second goal (21st minute), the Irish left Morgan, Lloyd, and Tobin Heath unmarked. (Crystal Dunn was also alone in front of the net, should her services have been needed on the play.)
Lloyd’s third goal (28th minute) was a gift. Irish defender Diane Caldwell tried to pass the ball back to her goalkeeper, Emma Byrne, but the pass was a lazy one, and Byrne took her time coming out to the ball. Lloyd showed them what it means to give your best at all times. She rushed in, pounced on the slow-roller, and easily tapped it into the net.
Ireland’s offense, meanwhile, was non-existent. The team got off just two shots, compared with 23 for the United States. The first Irish shot didn’t come until the 67th minute.
Hope Solo had no trouble extending her career shutout record to 91, even with three pillars of the U.S. defense — center backs Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn and midfielder Morgan Bryan — out of the lineup resting what are believed to be minor injuries. (Knee problems for Sauerbrunn and Brian, a groin pull for Johnston. All three are expected to be ready for the Olympic qualifying tournament, which begins in Frisco, Texas, on Feb. 10.)
Here are five oddities, curiosities or (possibly) interesting facts about the game and the two teams:
Alex Morgan earned her 100th cap and was the designated team captain. The 26-year-old striker made her debut with Team USA on Oct. 2, 2010. She is the 34th U.S. woman to reach the 100-game milestone.
When high school phenom Mallory Pugh entered the game in the 58th minute, she became the youngest player — at 17 years, 8 months and 25 days — to debut for the U.S. team since 2005.
The United States is 12-0 against Ireland. In those 12 games, the Americans have outscored the Girls in Green 45-1.
Whitney Engen started at center back and played the full 90 minutes, her first start in nearly a year. Three days later, when coach Jill Ellis announced her roster for the Olympic qualifier, Engen was left off, along with veteran midfielder Heather O’Reilly.
In last summer’s World Cup, Engen was the only U.S. field player who never made it into a game — along with backup goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher.
Team USA’s record for 2015 was 20-2-4. The two losses came in the first game of the year, on Feb. 8 against France in Lorient, France; and the last game of the year, on Dec. 16 against China in New Orleans.