A United States women’s national team that arrived in Mexico this week with two goals has already achieved the first: After a lopsided win over Jamaica on Thursday night, the United States clinched a berth at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The 5-0 win came in the USA’s second match at the Concacaf Women’s Championship, which serves as both a regional championship and qualifying tournament for the Women’s World Cup and Paris 2024 Olympics. United beat Haiti, 3-0, in their opening game on Monday.
Under the revamped eight-team regional tournament format, officially dubbed the Concacaf W Championship, the top two from each group of four teams automatically qualify for the Women’s World Cup, where the United States are the two-time defending champions.
USA ensured they would be one of the top finishers with a dominating performance against Jamaica: Sophia Smith scored twice in the first eight minutes, and Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis and Trinity Rodman added goals in the second half as the overmatched Jamaicans faded. an onslaught of American depth and scoring chances.
The Americans’ spot in the World Cup wasn’t secured until hours later, however, when Haiti defeated host Mexico in the second match of the evening. The result guaranteed the United States a top-two spot in their first-round group and a place in the expanded 32-team World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next summer.
The United States is the 12th nation to qualify, joining co-hosts, along with South Korea, Japan, China, the Philippines and Asia’s Vietnam; and Sweden, France, Denmark and Spain from Europe.
Canada, the defending women’s Olympic champion and the Americans’ biggest regional rival, is expected to join that group on Friday when they face Panama in their second game of the tournament. But the tournament’s biggest story might be Haiti: their 3-0 win over Mexico means they only need a draw with Jamaica in their final group game to earn their maiden Cup trip. of the world.
The next goal for the United States, meanwhile, will be to secure a place in the Paris Olympics. Only the winner of the Concacaf tournament will earn a direct place in this tournament, although there is a lifeline for runners-up and third-place nations in the Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers in September 2023.
USA coach Vlatko Andonovski manages a team in transition as he navigates the two-tournament path. The team he brought to Mexico is a mix of World Cup veterans like Lavelle, Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn and new faces like Smith, whose two goals gave him seven this year, the most for a American player; defender Naomi Girma, who assisted on Smith’s opening goal in only her third game with the United States; and Rodman, the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman.
This diversity of options has given the team a glimpse into the future of a championship team that, for now, still includes veterans like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. Thirteen members of Andonovski’s squad are playing in their first World Cup or Olympics qualifying tournament for the team, and eight have entered the tournament with less than 10 international appearances.
Smith showed a hint of the promise available to him in the opening minutes. On her first goal, she made a long pass down the right, lifted the ball over the head of a fleeing defender to reduce, then sent it with her right foot past the Jamaican keeper.
His second came a few minutes later, and after a similar header on the right, and was finished just as skillfully: with a flip at the first touch on the goalkeeper which was confirmed after a brief video review.
Two other first-half goals – by Ashley Hatch in the 11th minute and Mallory Pugh in the 27th – were erased by video review, which is being used for the first time this year in the Women’s Championship.
The result, however, was never in doubt. An unmarked Lavelle scored at the back post in the 59th minute to make it 3-0; Kristie Mewis converted a penalty after Midge Purce was brought down in the box in the 82nd minute; and Rodman turned a Pugh cross four minutes later for his second international goal.