Carli Lloyd got the scoring going early, and Alex Morgan sealed the win just seconds after halftime as the United States Women's National Team cruised to a 2-0 victory over New Zealand to open up its Olympic title defense in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Looking for a fourth straight Olympic gold medal, the Yanks came out firing, with the Orlando Pride captain Morgan sending an open header over the bar off a free kick just six minutes in.
New Zealand paid for its sloppy defense, however, just three minutes later, when the Ferns' failed attempt to clear a free kick gifted the ball to winger Tobin Heath. Heath played a cross to the back post where Lloyd was waiting to place a lofting header back across goal and find the side netting to give the Americans a dream start. The goal was the 89th of Lloyd's international career and the fifth assist for Heath in 2016.
The Kiwis struggled to create chances of their own in the first half, but did manage to slow down the U.S. assault with a very physical brand of soccer. That play saw them head into the break only down 1-0.
But the Americans wasted no time doubling their lead in the second half as Morgan scored just two minutes after the restart. Midfielder Morgan Brian played Morgan into the box with a nice through-ball before the Pride forward smashed her shot just inside the near post. The goal was number 12 on the year for Morgan and put the game out of reach for the New Zealanders.
Hope Solo kept her 102nd clean sheet despite being lustily booed by the crowd and taunted with chants of "Zika!" throughout the match. Apparently the Brazilians weren't amused by her tweets showing herself with mosquito netting and giant containers of bug spray. The U.S. goalkeeper had considered not attending the Olympics for fear of getting the Zika virus.
Jill Ellis gave 18-year-old rising star Mallory Pugh a start for the U.S., further proving the UCLA commit is one to keep an eye on in the next World Cup cycle. While Pugh failed to create many chances for the Yanks, the diminutive winger did not seem out of place on one of sports' biggest stages.
The win puts the Americans on top of Group G, with France and Colombia set to square off later tonight. The U.S. will take on France in its second group match on Aug. 6.
Canada 2, Australia 0
Canada managed to overcome playing 70 minutes a player down to take three points from its opening match with Australia. Orlando Pride defender Josee Belanger did not play for the Canadians, but both Laura Alleway and Steph Catley saw the field for the Matildas.
Alleway had an eventful game, turning the ball over early and gifting Canada's Janine Beckie a golden scoring chance. Beckie scored in the first minute, giving her the fastest goal in Olympic history at Alleway's expense.
However, Alleway made up for that mistake with a sliding clearance off the line to deny Jessie Fleming a goal later in the match.
Catley didn't start but subbed on at halftime and played the final 45 minutes.
Brazil 3, China 0
Hosts Brazil blanked China in both teams' opening match thanks in part to the Orlando Pride's Monica getting on the score sheet with a long header off a set piece in the first half.
Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 3, 2016
The win puts Brazil tied atop Group E with Sweden.