Watch the highlights of goals and key plays as the U.S. women face Mexico in their first 2019 World Cup qualifier.
The sprint to France began Thursday night, and the U.S. women's national team wasted little time in jumping out to a blistering pace as it tries to return to the World Cup stage.
Megan Rapinoe scored in the third minute, and the U.S. broke things open with a five-goal second half, beating Mexico to start 2019 World Cup qualifying with a 6-0 win in Cary, N.C. Rapinoe scored twice, as did Alex Morgan, and Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath added goals as well, with the U.S. topping Concacaf's Group A after one match.
The 2015 Women's World Cup champions returned to competitive action for the first time since being bounced in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics by Sweden, and they proved a point in a region they've long dominated. The U.S. is now riding a 22-match unbeaten streak and has the look of a side that shouldn't be troubled too much in booking a ticket to France next summer.
The U.S. looked to click early through its front line, pressuring in Mexico's final third in the opening couple of minutes. Rose Lavelle, Morgan and Heath combined on one foray forward, but Mexico held firm and didn't concede a chance on frame.
That resistance didn't last long. After a failed clearance, Rapione touched home a cross from Lindsey Horan into an empty net from close range, giving the U.S. a dream start in the third minute before Mexico even had a meaningful piece of possession.
Lavelle nearly made it 2-0 in the 11th minute after more strong work by Rapinoe, who sliced through the Mexico defense. The loose ball fell for Lavelle, who tried to curl a left-footed blast inside the far post and missed inches wide of the mark.
The U.S. continued to dominate possession, marked by quick ball movement that kept Mexico on its toes. It struggled to create clear-cut chances, though, with the closes in the following 15 minutes a deflected through ball that nearly put Morgan in clear on goal but trickled out of play.
Another poor Mexico clearance attempt in the 26th minute gifted Lavelle another good look at goal, with her rip from 16 years ricocheting off the left post.
The U.S. kept up with its combination play, working largely down the right side through Lavelle and Heath, who created a pair of chances for Horan just after the half-hour mark, only for both of the shots from the edge of the box to be blocked before they could reach their intended target.
Rapinoe missed a chance at her second in the 37th minute after Morgan's deft touch played her in on goal. Bianca Henninger made a fantastic, reflexive kick save to redirect the shot just enough by the far post, keeping the score at 1-0.
The U.S. doubled its lead early in the second half off a set piece. After a free kick resulted in a looping header that hit off the crossbar, the U.S. was first to the loose ball in the box. It eventually fell for Ertz, who fired home from point-blank range to make it 2-0 in the 47th minute.
Ertz was involved in a head-to-head collision five minutes later but was able to stay in the match and continue. Moments after Ertz's return, Mexico nearly gifted Heath the USA's third, with a wayward cross in its own half giving the American star a free look at goal from 20 yards. She lofted her shot over the bar, letting Mexico off easy.
It became 3-0 soon after, though. Morgan was left wide open for a header at the goalmouth on Rapinoe's corner kick, and she redirected a clinical finish to pad the advantage.
On the hour mark, the USA made it 4-0. Crystal Dunn weaved her way down the left flank before curling in a pinpoint cross for Heath in the center of the box. Her measured header beat Henninger to keep the floodgates open.
It turned 5-0 in the 70th minute off a series of fortunate events for the U.S. Off another corner, a deflected header looped toward Henninger, but she couldn't get to it first under pressure from substitute Carli Lloyd. The ball hit off the goalkeeper's back and fell to an unmarked Rapinoe, who touched home a simple finish for her second goal of the night.
The U.S. didn't relent. Becky Sauerbrunn made a rare foray forward and looked like she could've had a go at goal, but she instead served it up for Morgan, whose precise near-post finish made it 6-0.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
The U.S. women return to action on Sunday, when they face Panama, while Mexico will play Trinidad & Tobago in the second match of group play.