October 24, 2014
By Charles Cuttone
U.S. qualifies for World Cup with win over Mexico
CHESTER, Penn.—The United States Women’s National team can rest easy. Behind a two-goal performance from Carli Lloyd, it has assured its spot in the 2015 Women’s World Cup with an easy 3-0 win over Mexico in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship Semifinal at PPL Park Friday night.
|Carli Lloyd scores the first of her two goals against Mexico in Friday's CONCACAF Women's Championship semifinal at PPL Park.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Sunday’s final against Costa Rica, which won the first semifinal on penalties over Trinidad and Tobago, will be for the regional championship. But for those two teams, the mission is accomplished.
The journey for the U.S. was much easier than four years ago, when it lost the semifinal to Mexico 2-1, and after winning the third place game had to win a two-game playoff against Italy to qualify for the World Cup.
This time, the Americans sailed through the CONCACAF event, not giving up a single goal as they won 1-0, 5-0, 6-0 and 3-0.
Mexico will face T&T in the third place game on Sunday. The winner of that game gets a spot in the next year’s World Cup in Canada as well. The loser will play Ecuador in a two-game playoff.
The United States opened quickly, with Lloyd scoring her first in the sixth minute. Tobin Heath played a ball from the left side into the area, and Lloyd got a head on it, putting it into the top shelf of the net.
The former Rutgers star, who grew up not far from PPL Park, in New Jersey, got her second of the night after she was fouled just inside the penalty area and slammed home the penalty kick in the 30th minute.
After being unable to finish a number of chances, the U.S. made it 3-0 in the 56th minute. Sydney Leroux sent a through ball from the right side into the area. Christen Press ran onto the ball and eluded the touch of Mexican goalkeeper Pamela Tojonar to score.
Leroux came close on two chances before leaving the game in the 62nd minute in favor of Abby Wambach. In the 49th minute, Rapinoe put a ball into the penalty area, and Leroux hit it off the underside of the cross bar. In the 61st, she hit a shot that went off the right post.
Wambach came close to scoring less than a minute after coming into the game, but she missed a shot from inside the penalty area. In the 71st minute Wambach sent a header over the bar
Unlike its first three opponents in the tournament, Mexico didn’t pack behind the ball, giving the United States room to play, but the Americans' final touch was not as a sharp as in its previous two games.
Even with a three-goal lead, all of U.S. Coach Jill Ellis’ substitutions were offensive ones, sending Wambach in for Leroux, University of Virginia star Morgan Brian for Rapinoe, and Heather O’Reilly for Lauren Holiday.
The U.S. hit the woodwork as many times as it found the net. In addition to Leroux’s two splinter- inducing shots, after Wambach missed a chance in the 84th minute, Tojanor coughed up the rebound, and Press hit the left post.