Teammates celebrate after United States midfielder Julie Ertz (facing camera) scored a goal during the first half of a CONCACAF women's World Cup qualifying tournament soccer match in Frisco, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Jacobsohn)
FRISCO, Texas — Not wanting to be outshined by its northern neighbors, the United States women’s national team put on a clinic Sunday night, defeating Jamaica 6-0 at Toyota Stadium and booking its spot in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“It feels really good,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. “I think the players tonight are really excited about beginning a new journey. I think tonight we were in control of the game with the early goal that put the momentum on us. The variety in which we score goals and the players, and the different types of players scoring goals. We talked about qualifying, but it was also how we qualified and how we played. Overall, I’m really pleased.”
The win puts the defending world champions in Wednesday’s final of the Concacaf Women’s Championship, where they will take on rival Canada at 8 p.m. ET for the regional crown. Canada beat Panama 7-0 in an earlier semifinal. The United States won the teams’ last meeting 3-1 on Nov. 12, 2017, at Avaya Stadium.
“We’ve always had really competitive games with [Canada],” Ellis said. “They’re always a team that is in a major world event, one of the strongest teams in our region. A lot of the players play together in league, but I think there’s a real strong rivalry between the two countries when it comes to women’s football.”
The team’s soccer has really been coming together, outscoring opponents 24-0 during the tournament. Forward Alex Morgan credits the pool and depth of players selected by Ellis for the success.
“We have a great pool of players,” Morgan said. “An amazing 25 to 28 players brought in the last year. Obviously, at this tournament, it’s only 20 players, and we’ll have 23 going to the World Cup. I think the depth is incredible. The younger players really showed a lot of experience, even though it’s only been a year or two for a lot of these players to get 10, 20, 30 caps. I’m really impressed with their calmness and composure throughout this tournament.”
Unlike Canada, the United States’ offense got going early.
Midfielder Lindsey Horan ended up on the ball after a failed Jamaican clearance and took a shot, forcing a save from keeper Sydney Schneider. Schneider did not handle the shot and instead, parried it into the path of forward Tobin Heath, who easily tapped it in for a 1-0 U.S. lead in the 2nd minute.
Defender Abby Dahlkemper played a through ball to Megan Rapinoe in the 16th minute, clearing all defenders. Rapinoe took a touch off her chest and onto her foot before roofing a shot into the net to make it 2-0.
The U.S. continued to dominate, not allowing Jamaica to have much of the ball and forcing the team deep into its own third. Exploiting the flanks again, defender Crystal Dunn whipped in a ball from the left, finding the head of defender Julie Ertz, who crashed into the net with the ball to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead in the 21st minute.
Heath added to her tally with a second goal. Horan played a ball into the box and Heath found herself free, vollying it into the net to expand the lead to 4-0 in the 29th minute
Morgan joined in on the goal-scoring party with a goal of her own. On the receiving end of a Rapinoe free kick, Morgan side-footed the set piece into the net, putting the stamp on a dominant first-half performance for the United States in the 33rd minute.
Morgan added another goal late in the 84th minute on a penalty that she drew after rounding the keeper and being dragged down by Jamaican defender Allyson Swaby. Referee Francia Martinez pointed to the spot and Morgan buried the PK to give her two goals on the night.
“I think in this tournament we’ve been able to score in a lot of different ways and get a lot of different players in on goals,” Morgan said. “Just the diversity and the way we’re scoring, the different players that are getting in, I don’t think we’ve ever had this many players on a scoresheet within a tournament and performing really well.”