Not So Trivial Pursuits

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

Which player has scored the most goals in a single World Cup match?

Alex Morgan notching one of her record, five goals in this year’s U.S. World Cup match versus Thailand.

This trivia question is fairly current, and in the above picture, most sports fans and almost all soccer fans probably recognize Alex Morgan notching one of her record, five goals in this year’s U.S. World Cup match versus Thailand. However, fans may not have been aware that Morgan’s five goals tied her with two other World Cup notables, the U.S.’s Michelle Akers and Russia’s Oleg Salenko.

Raising Their Game: Blazing the way in 1991

Akers first accomplished this feat in the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991. She netted her five goals in a 7-0 semifinals victory over Taiwan, and the U.S. National Team went on to defeat Norway 2-0 to win the World Cup. In the finals, Akers scored both U.S. goals including a dramatic breakaway goal in the match’s final minutes. The video above chronicles the first Women’s World Cup and the U.S. Women’s triumph. For those with limited time or interest Akers five goal performance begins at minute 1:40, and the footage of her dramatic, break away, last minute, World Cup Final winning goal begins at minute 5:40.

SALENKO - against cameroon 1994 (x5)

It took 60 years of World Cup play before Michelle Akers became the first player to notch five scores in a single match, and yet a mere 3 years later, in the next Men’s World Cup, Russian-Ukranian football star Oleg Salenko matched this incredible feet. Salenko scored five goals in a group stage match against Cameroon in the 1994 World Cup, and shared the tournament’s Golden Boot Award with Bulgarian footballer Hristo Stoichkov. Salenko is the only player ever to win the Golden Boot award on a team eliminated from the World Cup finals at the group stage, and he is the only player to win the Golden Boot at both the U-20 World Cup and the FIFA World Cup. Above is a link to a short clip highlighting Salenko’s record setting performance.

USA v Thailand - FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019

Alex Morgan’s five goal match in the U.S.’s 13-0 shutout of Thailand is documented in the highlight film above. She tied teammate Megan Rapinoe with a total of six goals for the tournament, and based on a goals per minute tie breaker, she received the World Cup’s Silver Ball Award. The number one overall pick in the 2011 W.P.S. College Draft and the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 2012, after competing on two consecutive U.S. Women’s World Cup Championship Teams, Morgan received this year’s ESPY for Female Athlete of the Year.

Dare To Dream (Part 1)

Similar in stature and their ability to dominate the middle of the field, Akers and Morgan stand like sentinels or bookends marking the beginning and the present day of a period of evolution and success for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. Also a member of two World Cup Championship Teams, in 1991, Akers received the World Cup’s Golden Boot Award. In 2002 FIFA named Akers its Female Player of the Century, and in 2004, Pele chose Akers and Mia Hamm as the only two women on the FIFA 100, a list of the 100 greatest football players of all time. Although Morgan has not yet equalled Akers’ feats on the soccer pitch, she is only 30 years old and appears to be in the prime of her career. With at least two more World Cup appearances left for Morgan, there appears to be plenty of hope for Morgan to continue in Akers’ footsteps earning glory both for herself and for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

Above is a link to the first film in a three part series Dare To Dream which chronicles the evolution of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team from its very beginning to the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal triumph where the last of the 99ers passed the torch to Amy Wambach, Kristine Lilly, and the next generation. Below is a link to a short video fans may find interesting which outlines a theory on why the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team has been so successful.

Why The US Women's Team Is Great At Soccer