SYDNEY (AP) — After 21 years since last playing in Australia, the United States women's soccer team needed only 24 seconds to score against the Matildas on Saturday.
Turns out that was all the new-look American side needed in a 3-0 win at Sydney's Olympic stadium before a Matildas-record crowd of 36,109.
Ashley Hatch scored her first international goal when Australia's defense failed to clear the ball from the opening kickoff, and Hatch found herself one-on-one with goalkeeper Teagen Micah. Hatch calmly slotted a low shot to the right of Micah.
Rose Lavelle scored the second American goal in the 49th minute and captain Lindsey Horan finished the scoring from a penalty in the 68th.
Australia dominated much of the first half after Hatch's first-minute goal. U.S. goalkeeper Casey Murphy — in her international debut — was the player of the opening 45 minutes as she saved a half-dozen chances, including two from Australia veteran Sam Kerr.
The best Australian chance came from Kyah Simon, who missed from inside the six-yard box when the goal was open.
It was the first time since April 9, 2013, that the U.S. had a starting XI with every player under the age of 30. The average age of the starting side Saturday was 26 years, making it youngest starting lineup to take the field for the USWNT since April 5, 2018.
Horan and Tierna Davidson were the only players in this starting side who started in the most recent match with the Matildas in the Olympic bronze medal game on Aug. 5 in Tokyo, a match won 4-3 by the Americans. Lavelle and Emily Sonnett also saw action in that match as second-half substitutes.
It was Horan’s 107th appearance for the Americans, and her second time as captain — her first came in her 100th match in October.
Horan tweeted after the match: “I’ll remember this moment forever ... Wearing the 10 for the first time and of course, with the armband. I’m truly so honored. I’m proud of the team for the win and Sydney gave us an incredible atmosphere.”
The U.S. women have won the World Cup four times, including the last time in France in 2019. Australia and New Zealand will co-host the next World Cup in 2023, with the tournament's first match scheduled for 600 days from Saturday.
The last time the Americans played in Australia was while winning the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics.
The teams will meet again Tuesday in Newcastle, north of Sydney.
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The Associated Press