AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The U.S. began defense of its 2015 Women's World Cup title today with the most lopsided victory in tournament history. The U.S. defeated Thailand 13-0 before a packed and pro-U.S.A. crowd in France. NPR's Laurel Walmsley was in the stands for the game. She joins us now. And Laurel, people were going bonkers on social media...
CORNISH: ...With each and every goal. So I can imagine what it was like in the stadium.
LAUREL WAMSLEY, BYLINE: Yeah, it was pretty wild. I mean, people were so excited when the U.S. first scored. And then from there, it just sort of turned to disbelief almost.
CORNISH: Talk about that disbelief 'cause their - they dominated throughout. So what stood out to you?
WAMSLEY: Well, I think - I mean, the - people were just so excited for the U.S. to score. I mean, I was amazed by how many people were there who weren't Americans. We knew that the U.S. had sold a bunch of tickets, but the fans were full of French people and people from around Europe who wanted to see this U.S. team play.
And the U.S. just sort of came out swinging. I mean, they, you know, just pressed from the very beginning. They had possession the entire time. And it looked like they were just taking shot after shot on Thailand's goal. And then by - starting in the ninth minute, they just started making them with three goals in the first half. And they looked great.
CORNISH: What was going on with Thailand? I mean, is this a team that struggled? Like, give us the context.
WAMSLEY: Well, they were considered one of the weaker teams coming into this tournament. Asia sent five teams, and they were considered maybe one of the weakest ones from Asia. And so they - this was not their first World Cup. They actually played in 2015 as well. But the U.S. had play them once before two years ago. And in that game, the U.S. also beat them. So there wasn't huge expectations for this Thai team. Most of the players play in the Thai leagues.
But at the same time, you know, the U.S. ended up winning 13-0, which is a World Cup record for the largest margin of a win. So even by those expectations, this was a big lopsided win for the U.S.
CORNISH: Who were the stars that made their mark in this game?
WAMSLEY: Well, I mean, so many - seven different players scored. But it was Alex Morgan. She scored five goals, which was just amazing. And you know, I think coming into this, she wanted to have a great tournament. She was - at press conferences, she's been saying, no, I'm not - don't consider me one of the older players yet; this is going to be my World Cup.
And she just came out, and, you know, she scored one and then two and then three. And then - and they just kept coming. And so she just - she looked great. And now I think she is a strong contender for the Golden Boot - to score the most goals at this World Cup if things go the U.S.'s way.
CORNISH: It's interesting. We've been hearing so much about the frustrations of women athletes on the team because of how - the disparities they talk about in terms of pay.
WAMSLEY: It's true. And the U.S. team has made it that way. They have - very strategically, they are suing their employer, U.S. Soccer, right before this World Cup knowing that the world is watching. And so they both want the world's attention. They know that they're going to play well at the World Cup, or at least they intend to. And with that attention on them, they want to say, look how good we are.
And they kind of want to draw attention to the idea that, hey, you know, the U.S. team - the U.S. men's team makes more money than they do even though the U.S. men's team just this week lost to Venezuela 3-0. And they're saying, we're the best team in the world, and you still can't pay us as much as you pay the men. Why is that exactly?
CORNISH: So in the half minute we have left, what's next for the U.S.?
WAMSLEY: Well, so this is the group stage, and so they've got two more games. So next up is Chile on Sunday, and then they'll play Sweden on Thursday. So they obviously hope to win the group and looks like they may well do that. But from there, it goes to the knockout stage, and then we'll see what happens.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Laurel Wamsley in France, where this year's Women's World Cup is being played. Laurel, I hope you're having a blast.
WAMSLEY: I am having a great time. Thanks so much, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.