PITTSBURGH (AP) — Christen Press scored three goals Sunday to power the United States to an 8-0 exhibition romp over Costa Rica in its first game since winning the Women’s World Cup in Canada last month.
The game marked the opening of a victory tour by the Americans and was played before a crowd of 44,028 at Heinz Field — the largest to see a soccer game Pittsburgh.
Meghan Klingenberg grew up in Pittsburgh and rewarded her hometown fans with a goal. Heather O’Reilly added two goals, with the other scores coming from Julie Johnston and Whitney Engen
“I think it was a very professional performance,” O’Reilly said. “There were parts in the first half that I thought were tough and we sort of had to grind through moments of the game, but we kept pressing on as a team and put together some really good stuff and scored some nice goals. I think there were some patches of good and patches of bad, but we worked through them and we’re proud of our performance.”
Press was one of Sunday’s six starters who did not start in the World Cup final. Forward Alex Morgan did not play, having undergone minor knee surgery following the World Cup. Goalkeeper Hope Solo and forward Abby Wambach entered in the second half.
“I personally felt this victory tour was the beginning of a new journey,” Press said. “I think the World Cup, for me, was an eye-opener on how great our team can be, and also, that I need to get to the next level. That I need to keep pushing myself and not be stasis died with where I am.”
Klingenberg scored after being moved to midfielder to start the second half. She lifted a cross from Tobin Heath into the net to give the United States a 5-0 lead in the 55th minute. She ran to the U.S. bench to grab a Terrible Towel — a more common sight at Pittsburgh Steelers games — and waved it near midfield.
“It was wonderful,” Klingenberg said. “Playing with my teammates again is always a blast. I love getting on the field with them and being in my hometown, and hearing 44,000 people roar for you is quite incredible. ... I don’t know if you saw, but I like elbowed Abby out of the way to get to that Terrible Towel, so it was pretty special.”
O’Reilly opened the scoring in the fourth minute. She intercepted a pass intended for Costa Rican defender Daniela Cruz, charged into the box and shot past goaltender Dinnia Diaz.
The first of Press’ two first-half goals came in the 29th minute. She collected her own rebound to send a shot past a diving Diaz. She then scored nine minutes after Johnston made it 3-0, touching a rebound off Shannon Boxx’s header into the net in the 45th minute.
Press’ second goal came off the second of two corner kicks originally forced by an O’Reilly cross that Carli Lloyd couldn’t reach. O’Reilly also contributed to Johnston’s goal with another cross that forced a corner kick, which Johnston headed past Diaz.
O’Reilly scored in 59th minute to make it 6-0. After defender Whitney Engen scored the seventh goal with a header in the 63rd minute, Press completed her hat trick to push the lead to 8-0 five minutes later.