The gulf between the women’s soccer establishment and the world’s emerging programs has narrowed over a decade, gradually reducing the number of lopsided results. Tuesday night’s match between the United States and Mexico, however, was an unfriendly reminder the chasm has not fully closed.
It was also a reminder of how much damage the top-ranked team on the planet is capable of inflicting on an overmatched opponent.
Sydney Leroux scored four goals in a 20-minute stretch of the first half and Abby Wambach added to her world-record haul as the United States demolished Mexico, 7-0, before 12,594 at RFK Stadium.
Despite the absence of several regulars, the reigning Olympic champions stretched their unbeaten streak to 35 (30-0-5) and extended their home dominance to 73 in a row (64-0-9), a run that began in December 2004.
Coach Tom Sermanni mixed regulars and newcomers for the team’s highest-scoring display in a year.
“A result like tonight sends a message right across the whole squad that nobody’s place is safe in the team,” he said. “That is important for competition and it’s important for the continuing development of the team.”
Despite a 1-27-1 record in the series, Mexico had made strides by staying close in several matches and earning that one triumph in a 2011 World Cup qualifier. With several young players in the lineup and no matches since February, it couldn't keep up.
Wambach got it started with the 161st goal of her sterling international career. Leroux, a 23-year-old forward, followed with four between the 21st and 41st minutes.
“Sydney hasn’t even touched her potential,” said Wambach, who was credited with three assists. “And that’s scary.”
Veteran defender Rachel Buehler and University of Virginia junior midfielder Morgan Brian recorded second-half goals.
Brian entered in the 70th minute for her second national team appearance and scored two minutes later on a 16-yard deflected shot. The U-Va. women’s team and staff bussed up from Charlottesville to support her, as well as starting defender Becky Sauerbrunn, a Cavalier from 2003 to ’07.
“They had signs and they were loud — I don’t think I could have missed them,” Brian said of the Virginia crew. “It was a special night for me.”
Among the absences was star forward Alex Morgan, who reported to Washington but was held out of the game because she is recovering from a sprained knee.
Mexico’s best chance came 65 seconds into the match on a botched breakaway. From that point, the Americans were in control.
In the 11th minute, effective combination work on the left flank opened space for Kristie Mewis, 22, to cross to Wambach for a rising one-timer from eight yards — her 20th goal in 20 games against Mexico.
Leroux then polished off two rebounds and artfully created — and finished — another opportunity in a nine-minute stretch.
In the 21st, Cecilia Santiago got her hands on Wambach’s 15-yard effort. Leroux nodded in the rebound.
In the 22nd, after Santiago slapped Lauren Holiday’s low bid, Leroux beat three retreating defenders to the loose ball for the putaway.
In the 30th, she collected Wambach’s header, surged past the backline and rolled an off-balanced shot past Santiago.
In the 41st, Holiday served her a free kick for a six-yard header.
“We were able to put each other into good position for goals,” Leroux said. This wasn’t even her career best: In a 2012 Olympic qualifier, she scored five times in the second half against Guatemala to gain a share of the program record.
“If we can figure out how to all stay fit, play well and remain confident,” Wambach said of the array of attackers, “this team is going to score a ton of goals.”
The United States will play as many as four friendlies this fall — opponents have not been finalized — before facing archrival Canada in January at a U.S. venue to be determined.