Crystal Dunn entered Monday’s CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying group-stage match against Puerto Rico with five career goals.
She left the game with that total doubled.
Dunn scored five times in the United States’ 10-0 dismantling of Puerto Rico at Toyota Stadium, tying the Americans’ record for goals in a game with six other players.
The win clinched first place for the U.S. in Group A of the qualifying tournament.
Her first of the night put the U.S. up 1-0 in the sixth minute on a cross from 17-year-old Mallory Pugh.
She followed the initial strike with her second in the 21st minute, third in the 61st, fourth in the 85th minute and the finale in the 87th minute.
The outburst was Dunn’s first multi-goal match of her career.
“I can’t believe I’m amongst some really great names,” Dunn said. “This is a really important moment for me. It’s not like it’s easy to score all those goals, so I’m going to hold this one really dear to my heart.”
Pugh, who beat her defender on a skillful crossover on Dunn’s first goal, made her first career start with the national team Monday, and her assist was her first with the national squad.
Pugh would set the U.S. up for its second goal just over ten minutes later when serpentine weaving through the box drew a tripping call. The ensuing penalty kick taken by captain Carli Lloyd bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and fell into the goal for Lloyd’s 11th qualifying tournament goal of her career.
“I think as the game went on, I got more comfortable with the ball,” Pugh said. “I think the fact that my teammates around me are so positive, that helps too.”
The teenager had a hand in another score in the 60th minute when a cross on a breaking run bounced off a defender’s foot and into Puerto Rico’s net, giving the U.S. a 5-0 lead on an own goal.
“She’s a very, very special player,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said of Pugh. “I thought she just looked so comfortable. For a player to come into this environment and play in front of the biggest crowd she’s been in front of, she’s just done excpeptionally well.
With a berth into the CONCACAF qualifying tournament semifinals already in hand, Ellis gave the starting nod to Pugh and several other young players in favor of usual starters such as Alex Morgan and Julie Johnston.
Morgan saw action in the second half, subbing for Lloyd.
Alyssa Naeher, starting for national team veteran keeper Hope Solo, faced one shot on goal.
Saturday, Pugh became the youngest female player in national team history to play in an Olympic qualifier match at 17 years, 9 months and 12 days when she subbed in for Dunn in the 68th minute of the United States’1-0 win over Mexico.
Pugh left the game for Meghan Klingenberg in the 67th minute to a loud ovation.
The U.S. closed out its first-half scoring on the play of the night — a back-heel flick finish by Kelley O’Hara on a service by Stephanie McCaffrey in the 45th minute.
The Americans’ first three goals of the second half came excatly 1 minute, 56 seconds apart, beginning with the own goal in the 60th minute. The U.S. tallied six goals after halftime.
Samantha Mewis closed out the American scoring in the 90th minute with her first career goal.
The United States will face the Group B second-place finisher — probably either Guyana or Trinidad and Tobago — on Friday in Houston. With a victory, the Americans will punch their ticket to Rio de Janeiro for their sixth straight trip to the Olympics.
“This squad that we started today was obviously young,” Dunn said. “I think it was really great for everyone to get some shine today.”
Travis L. Brown: email@example.com, @Travis_L_Brown