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April 9, 2008
U.S. women qualify for Olympics in 3-0 win

Natasha Kai scored two goals and set up a third in the USA's 3-0 win over Mexico.
Natasha Kai scored two goals and set up a third in the USA's 3-0 win over Mexico.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico -- The United States women have qualified for their fourth consecutive Olympics.

The Americans struck for three goals in the second half to register a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament and reach the Beijing Olympics.

Natasha Kai scored two goals and set up a third for the U.S., finding the back of the net in the 58th minute and in stoppage time. Heather O'Reilly scored in the 73rd minute.

The Americans will take on the winner of the Canada-Mexico semifinal for the CONCACAF championship.

The U.S. won the gold medals at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics and took home the silver in 2000.

Tobin Heath set up the first goal in the 57th minute, getting around the Ticas defense and cutting the ball back Kai. Kai’s hard shot slipped through the hands of Costa Rican goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia and rolled across the goal line into the lower right corner.
The second goal came in the 72nd minute as Carli Lloyd sent in a free kick from the left wing. Kai got her head on the ball, but sent it looping high in the air toward the goal. Tapia went up to grab the ball right on the goal line, but as she came down, fumbled it and O’Reilly stuffed it into the net from just a foot away. It was O’Reilly’s 19th international goal.

Young forward Amy Rodriguez came off the bench in the 74th minute and gave the U.S. an offensive spark in the final 15 minutes, playing a give and go with substitute Angela Hucles. Hucles played a square pass right into the path of Kai, who slammed her shot into the right side of the net from eight yards away to finish the scoring in the 89th minute. The two goals gave Kai four for the tournament and 14 for her career.

Rodriguez almost got a goal of her own, getting behind the defense in the 90th minute and looping a shot over Tapia, but it bounced just left of the goal.

Costa Rica had two good chances in the match, the first coming in the 68th minute when Amara Wilson drew a nice diving save from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. Two minutes from time, a well-struck Costa Rica free kick skipped into the box and bounced off Solo’s chest as she was buried underneath two Costa Rican attackers, but the U.S. was able to clear before a Tica could get a foot to the rebound.

The U.S. will play Canada in the championship game of the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Saturday, April 12, with a kickoff at 9:30 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the action live on's MatchTracker.

In the second game of Wednesday night's doubleheader, Canada made a first-half goal stand up against Mexico to win 1-0 and disappoint another packed stadium at Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez, earning its first-ever berth to the Olympics in women’s soccer.
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