The US Women’s National Team knocked off Mexico 4-0 in their final match of the group stage of Olympic qualifying to win Group B. Carli Lloyd had a hat trick and Heather O’Reilly added a goal as the USWNT rolled to an easy victory. They will face Costa Rica for a chance to qualify on Friday (8pm, concacaf.com, universalsports.com).
After demolishing the Dominican Republic (14-0) and Guatemala (13-0), the US women exacted a little revenge on their southern neighbors. The US fell to Mexico in 2011 World Cup qualifying and were forced to win a play-in match against Italy to qualify for the tournament. Tuesday’s match was never in doubt with Lloyd opening the scoring on 7 minutes and O’Reilly adding the second just two minutes later.
The Mexican back-line was under siege early and the game looked like it might be another blowout after the goals in quick succession. Lloyd was the quickest to react to a loose ball in the box after a US corner and headed into an empty net to open the scoring. O’Reilly would add a second just two minutes later, poking home from close range after some good work by Amy Rodriguez down the left wing.
With the news that starting right back Ali Kreiger will be out 6-8 months with an ACL/MCL tear after being on the receiving end of a reckless challenge in the match against the Dominican Republic, Rachel Buehler started on the right side with Becky Saurbrunn stepping into the center to partner Christine Rampone. The defense looked solid throughout the match, leaving Mexico with little chance to get in behind and limiting them to potshots from distance for most of the match.
Sydney Leroux surprisingly replaced Amy Rodriguez at half time and had two great chances to put the game beyond doubt before Lloyd finally did just that, scoring her second of the match on 65 minutes. Lauren Cheney’s free kick from 40 yards drifted toward the back post where Lloyd rose highest and was able to put her header on target.
Lloyd completed her hat trick from another set piece on 88 minutes. A driven ball to the near post found Buehler cutting through the box and the defender was able to square a pass back to the six yard box from the end line for Lloyd to finish easily.
The US will face Costa Rica on Friday for the chance at Olympic qualification, as the top two teams from CONCACAF advance to the tournament, making the final somewhat irrelevant. The Americans will be glad to not have to face Canada in the semi-final, as the host nation easily won their group as well and look to be the only other decent side in the tournament. The final will take place on Sunday, January 29 at 8pm.