The U.S. WNT are headed to Rio this summer as the CONCACAF Champions for the fourth consecutive time after out-dueling a tough Canadian side 2-0 in Houston this evening.
Canada’s coach John Herdman elected to leave some key veterans on the bench at the start of this final, most notably the country’s legendary striker Christine Sinclair, who entered in the second half with Canada already trailing by two.
For her part U.S. coach Jill Ellis kept faith with 17-year-old Mallory Pugh and Kelley O’Hara and the duo responded well to the coaches confidence.
O’Hara gives the U.S. attack a jolt on the right side and has combined well on that wing with Tobin Heath. And speaking of Heath, Pugh has set the winger up for near identical goals in the past two games.
Heath netted in the 61st minute tonight to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead after Lindsey Horan broke the 0-0 deadlock eight minutes earlier. Horan flicked home from a long Becky Sauerbrunn pass to finally give the U.S. a hard earned breakthrough against the stubborn Canucks.
The home team had dominated throughout the first half but were unable to find the opening score until Horan’s header.
Horan did more than score that key goal, the converted striker continued to grow into her role in the center of the midfield alongside Morgan Brian.
Neither of the duo fits the mold of a true d-mid but their willingness to work combined with smart positional sense and sharp passing skills may make that point moot.
It wasn’t until Canada had fallen behind 2-0 that the visitors finally began to trouble the U.S. defense. Herdman sent vets Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, and Diana Matheson in late and the Canadian attack finally showed signs of life.
Melissa Tancredi came closest for Canada but Hope Solo turned up big to get a hand on her close range header.
After that 10 minute flourish the Americans regained control and Pugh to Heath very nearly produced a late sequel and would have if not for the outstretched foot of Canadian defender Alyssa Chapman.
Chapman’s heroics meant that the U.S. would have to settle for a 2-0 win but they won’t mind. Neither will Canada be too heartbroken, they will be joining the U.S. at the Olympics this summer in Rio where the duo may renew old rivalries.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
CAN 0 0 0
USA – Lindsey Horan (Becky Sauerbrunn) 53rd minute
USA – Tobin Heath (Mallory Pugh) 61
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 8-Julie Johnston, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 14-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan (16-Crystal Dunn, 82), 17-Tobin Heath, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 2-Mallory Pugh (6-Emily Sonnett, 90); 13-Alex Morgan (12-Christen Press, 72)
Subs Not Used: 3-Samantha Mewis, 11-Ali Krieger, 15-Stephanie McCaffrey, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Jaelene Hinkle, 20-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis
CAN: 18-Stephanie Labbé; 2-Allysha Chapman, 3-Kadeisha Buchanan, 4-Shelina Zadorsky, 7-Rhian Wilkinson (13-Sophie Schmidt, 58); 5-Rebecca Quinn (8-Diana Matheson, 58), 10-Ashley Lawrence, 11-Desiree Scott, 9-Josée Bélanger; 14-Melissa Tancredi,15-Nichelle Prince (12-Christine Sinclair, 61)
Subs Not Used: 1-Erin McLeod, 6-Deanna Rose, 16-Gabrielle Carle, 17-Jesse Fleming, 19-Janine Beckie, 20-Sabrina D’Angelo
Head coach: John Herdman
Stats Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 11 / 2
Shots on Goal: 4 / 1
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 14 / 16
Offside: 1 / 3
CAN – Josée Bélanger (caution) 20th minute
USA – Mallory Pugh (caution) 79