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U.S. women’s national team looks to clinch World Cup berth against Jamaica

The U.S. women's national team will qualify for the 2019 Women's World Cup if it beats Jamaica in Sunday's Concacaf Women's Championship semifinal. (AFP PHOTO / Tim Vizer)

FRISCO, Texas — The United States women’s national team will look to clinch a spot in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup at 8 p.m. Sunday when it plays Jamaica in a Concacaf Women’s Championship semifinal match.

The semifinals also include Canada and Panama in a 5 p.m. match. The winners of each match will qualify for the Women’s World Cup in France, while the losers will square off for the third Concacaf spot in the international tournament. Whoever loses the third-place match will play Argentina, who finished third in the Copa America Femenina, in a Concacaf-CONMEBOL playoff for a spot in the World Cup.

The USWNT dominated its opponents in the group stage, putting 18 goals in the net while allowing zero in the three matches. Those matches included a 6-0 win over Mexico, a 5-0 win over Panama and a 7-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. Alex Morgan has led the scoring up top with her four goals in the matches, followed by Carli Lloyd who has three of her own. 

The defending champions of the region and the world, the United States is not overlooking the Jamaican national team, which finished second in Group B.

“They obviously have good size, so an aerial presence to play with,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. “The transition game they have, they got the pace and the skill, the talent to be a team that can hurt you in the transition. In terms of what they present, we’ve had challenges in terms of dealing with pacey players, but obviously, we have a team that has an opportunity to qualify for a World Cup. We’re going to get the very best of them, I would imagine. We have to make sure we go in with our game.”

The Jamaican women have never qualified for a Women’s World Cup. The highest the team has finished in the Women’s Championship is fourth in 2006. After qualifying for the Championship with a first-place finish in the Caribbean qualification, the Jamaicans finished Group B play with six points after two solid performances against Cuba and Costa Rica. The team’s only blemish was a 2-0 loss against Canada.

Jamaica coach Hue Menzies spoke about using a counterattacking mentality in the match.

“Obviously, we’re playing the number one team in the world,” Menzies said. “We feel like we’re going to go out and give it the effort that we been giving. We know that they’re a high-profile team. Some of our players grew up watching those kids, so it’s going to be a treat for them playing against then. The experience they bring, hopefully we can go out there and prove that we’re capable of being on the same stage as they are.”

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