USA Reaches FIFA Women’s World Cup With Win Over Mexico

Written by Ian Thomson

CHESTER, Pa. – The United States women’s national team is going to the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the seventh time in seven tournaments after a 3-0 win over Mexico in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship semi-final at PPL Park.

Carli Lloyd’s first-half double gave the Yanks a commanding lead that El Tri failed to threaten in the second period. Christen Press added a third goal after the interval to round out a comfortable victory.

The Americans will be looking to win their seventh continental crown Sunday against a Costa Rica team appearing in its first CONCACAF Women’s Championship final.

It took six minutes for the reigning Olympic champions to edge ahead. Tobin Heath checked onto her right foot from out wide on the left before delivering a pinpoint cross for Lloyd to head past Mexican goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar from six yards out.

Sydney Leroux almost added a second goal on 19 minutes after her cushioned header teed up Megan Rapinoe in the final third. Press joined the attack with a shot that was blocked before Leroux’s effort was stopped by Tajonar.

Many in the PPL Park crowd thought Press had found the net three minutes later. Instead, her shot had rippled the outside of the net.

The U.S. was awarded a penalty kick on 29 minutes when Arianna Romero got caught in a tangle with Heath when the Portland Thorns wide player attacked down the left side of the 18-yard box. Lloyd coolly stroked her shot to Tajonar’s right as the goalkeeper moved left.

Lloyd’s ability to float between the midfield and forward lines combined with Rapinoe’s ducking and weaving occupied El Tri centrally and allowed Heath and Press to find good 1-v-1 situations in wide areas. Press picked out Meghan Klingenberg in space at the far post in the last minute of the first period only for the Pennsylvania native to sky her volley over the bar.

Any controversy over Hope Solo’s continued presence between the sticks for the Stars and Stripes could have been negated during the first half by instructing the 33-year-old stopper to take a seat in the stands, such was the American dominance over their southern neighbor.

That pattern continued after the break. Leroux was guilty of a glaring miss on 49 minutes when she smashed Rapinoe’s right-wing cross against the bar from two yards out.

Press added a third goal for the Americans on 56 minutes, taking Leroux’s through pass and sidestepping around Tajonar from a suspiciously offside position to stroke the ball into the empty net.

Leroux struck the near post on 61 minutes after being sent clear by Rapinoe’s flick header. It was the Seattle Reign forward’s last involvement of the game before making way for veteran Abby Wambach.

An offside flag prevented Lloyd from celebrating another goal on 75 minutes after she steered a deep free kick past Tajonar at the back post. The Houston Dash’s new addition then dragged a left-foot shot wide from 25 yards as she looked to complete her hat-trick.

The post denied Press a second goal on 83 minutes after Tajonar fumbled a cross under heavy pressure from Wambach.

Mexico has another shot at World Cup qualification Sunday in the third-place game against Trinidad and Tobago.

United States (4-4-1-1): Solo – Klingenberg, Engen, Rampone, Krieger – Heath, Holiday (O’Reilly 75), Lloyd, Press – Rapinoe (Brian 67) – Leroux (Wambach 62)

Mexico (4-5-1): Tajonar – Sierra, Garciamendez, Murillo (Alvarado 72), Robles (Noyola 76) – Samarzich, Garza, Rangel, Mercado, Romero – Duarte (Mayor 55)


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