CARY, N.C. — The rain began to pour 40 minutes into Wednesday’s final Group A match, and so did the goals for the United States women’s national team.
The U.S. scored three goals in the final five minutes of the match on its way to a convincing 7-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago and a clean sweep of Group A to advance to the semifinals of the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship. The semifinals will be held Sunday in Frisco, Texas, where the third-place match and final will also be played Wednesday.
The defending champions started a familiar lineup that will most likely be coach Jill Ellis’ preference for the remainder of the tournament on the 4-3-3 formation. The lineup mirrored that of the first U.S. match of the tournament, a 6-0 victory over Mexico.
“I felt our team played well tonight. I thought Trinidad presented a challenge for us,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said after the match. “I told them before the game tonight that it was about momentum, and tonight was a great way to close out the group stage.”
Going into Wednesday, the U.S. had scored 11 goals, while Trinidad & Tobago has conceded seven goals. After a slow start, the U.S. was only up by one goal — Alex Morgan’s 20th goal in 22 consecutive matches, which she scored in the 9th minute.
Then the rains came, and the goals in front of an announced crowd of 3,996 at Sahlen’s Stadium.
Midfielder Rose Lavelle broke through the gridlock in the 41st minute with a screaming strike from outside the penalty box. Her shot, slippery from the rain, flew through the stretched fingers of Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Saundra Baron. About two minutes later, Lavelle added a second.
Before the half ended, left back Crystal Dunn added a fourth U.S. goal — a quick 20-yard flick into the lower-left corner.
After eight shots in the first half, midfielder Lindsey Horan finally found the back of the net in the 49th minute. Morgan recorded a brace a minute later, and Tobin Heath polished off the seventh goal in the 58th.
The U.S. swept Group A with 18 goals and three clean sheets, advancing to the semifinals to play the No. 2 finisher in Group B, which concludes group play Thursday.
The top three finishers in Concacaf Women’s Championship secure World Cup spots with the fourth place finisher playing against Argentina for the final qualification spot.
The other semifinal qualifier from Group A is Panama (2-1-0), which stunned favored Mexico (1-2-0) earlier Wednesday with a 2-0 victory. The young Panama side took another step toward its first-ever World Cup appearance, while Mexico missed out for the first time since 2007.
Check back soon for full recap and highlights.