It was all too easy for the U.S. WNT as they punched their ticket to the 2015 Women’s World Cup next summer in Canada with a 3-0 win tonight over Mexico.
It was clear from the throw in of tonight’s CONCACAF semifinal at Pennsylvania’s PPL Park, that there would no repeat of Mexico’s shocking 2-1 upset win over the U.S. at the same stage of the 2010 edition of this World Cup Qualifying tournament.
Mexico seemed to concede this result before the referee’s opening whistle, leaving several expected starters on the bench, apparently content to pin their World Cup Qualifying hopes on beating Costa Rica in the events 4/5 game.
The Americans dominated possession from the start to such a degree that it was a surprise that it took almost six minutes for Carli Lloyd to put the U.S. in the lead.
A wide open Lloyd was the beneficiary of a perfect cross from a similarly unperturbed Tobin Heath, and Lloyd headed home for the 1-0 U.S. lead.
Leading the U.S. WNT into her first big tournament since taking over for Tom Sermanni, Jill Ellis gambled by leaving Abby Wambach on the sideline, even as the Americans came into the match minus Wambach’s fellow goal machine, injured star Alex Morgan.
With the U.S. in complete control Lloyd added a second goal from the penalty spot after Tobin Heath was tripped up in the box. The p.k. was a bit soft, in that Heath would have had a tough time catching up to the ball, but the creative winger was clipped by the Mexican defender.
Mexico had to be pleased to make it to the half trailing just 2-0, but El Tri would have no respite on the restart. Sydney Leroux almost made it 3-0 minutes into the second half, but her chance clipped the crossbar. Christian Press got that third goal for the Yanks off of a wonderful through ball from Leroux.
That would be the last contribution on the night from Leroux, who would check out in the 62nd minute, replaced by Wambach. It is difficult to imagine what the Mexican players were thinking when the world’s all time leading international goal scorer entered the match for the U.S. as a substitute.
Wambach, who earlier today was nominated for Women’s Player of the Year honors, nearly extended the U.S. lead seconds after entering the match, but a cross from Press was just behind her.
Mexico’s decision to more or less tank this game in favor of concentrating on the 4/5 match will have to be judged another day, but for the U.S. today’s win means another chance to win a first World Cup since 1999.
This easy U.S. win was keyed by their complete possession dominance, Lloyd’s goals, and brilliant play from several players, in particular the creative play of Tobin Heath.
The U.S. will face Costa Rica in the final on Sunday afternoon, again at PPL Park, with both nations already qualified for the 2015 Women’s World Cup to be played next summer in Canada.
Las Ticas beat Trinidad and Tobago in extra time thanks to a heroic performance from goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz, who saved three consecutive shots from T&T shooters to secure the win.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
MEX 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath) 6th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty kick) 30
USA – Christen Press (Sydney Leroux) 56
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Whitney Engen, 16-Meghan Klingenberg; 12-Lauren Holiday (9-Heather O’Reilly, 75), 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (7-Morgan Brian, 67); 14-Christen Press, 2-Sydney Leroux (20-Abby Wambach, 62), 17-Tobin Heath
Subs Not Used: 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Julie Johnston
Head Coach: Jill Ellis
MEX: 12-Pamela Tajonar (capt.); 2-Arianna Romero, 3-Bianca Sierra, 4-Alina Garcíamendez, 15-Christina Murillo (14-Monica Alvarado, 72); 6-Liliana Mercado, 7-Lydia Nayeli Rangel, 13-Kenti Robles (8-Teresa Noyola, 76); 18-Dinora Garza, 19-Tanya Samarzich, 20-Luz Duarte (10-Sandra Stephany Mayor, 55)
Subs Not Used: 1-Cecilia Santiago, 5-Paulina Solís, 11-Monica Ocampo, 9-Veronica Charlyn Corral, 16-Karla Nieto, 17-Veronica Perez
Head Coach: Leonardo Cuellar
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 21 / 1
Shots on Goal: 7 / 0
Saves: 0 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 4 / 12
Offside: 9 / 1