FRISCO, Texas — The United States women’s national soccer team clinched its sixth Concacaf title with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Canada in the championship match Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium.
The win continued a period of dominance for the U.S. against its regional rival, having not lost a game to Canada since the 2001 Algarve Cup.
“When you play your rivals in a tournament like this, it’s very much about heart and will,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “To get the late goal was incredibly rewarding in terms of the mentality. It’s something you can take away and lean on later. Every game we’ve played this year, it’s about preparing us for next summer. And I think this was a tremendous game that we will have a lot of takeaways … from game management to everything we’re doing in the game.”
Forward Alex Morgan capped the performance with a late goal in the 89th minute, earning the Golden Boot for the tournament in the process with her seventh goal.
Off a corner kick, defender Crystal Dunn had an opportunity to take a shot from outside the box. Instead, she laid it through to midfielder Lindsey Horan, who was on the wing. Horan drove a cross into the box, finding Morgan who slipped it in to give the U.S. its second and final goal of the night.
“I was able to settle the ball and I looked up and kinda saw there was a lot of people standing in front of me,” Dunn said. “To take a shot, it might have not been the worst situation, but I just know I wouldn’t have put my team in a great position if the ball was going to be deflected. We would have had to chase down, and Canada is good on their counterattack.”
The game started off quick once again for the United States, which opened the scoring in the second minute off a long-range effort from midfielder Rose Lavelle. Horan first played a ball into the box, but it was quickly cleared by the Canadian defense. The clearance did not go far and ended up at Lavelle’s feet. She took a touch and hit inside the far post, beating Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe for a 1-0 U.S. lead.
“In terms of how you want to start a game and get that early lift, it is a great feeling,” Ellis said. “Then, suddenly, are we playing to protect something or are you continuing to hunt something? I think that’s where initially our reaction was OK, and I think we got a little conservative in how we wanted to play. That’s part of our developmental and evolution. If you’re up a goal, keep the pedal down, continue to push for the next one. It’s part of the growth of a team.”
Megan Rapinoe almost doubled the lead in the 18th minute, cutting inside the box before attempting to bend a shot into the net. The shot went just over the bar instead.
The Canadians struggled to test the United States, but a chance came in the 24th minute off a set piece. Defender Kadeisha Buchanan flicked on a cross, forcing U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher to make a tough save as she palmed the ball out of bounds.
Morgan almost had her opening goal early, finding space as midfielder Tobin Heath played in a cross. Morgan met the ball, but headed it over the bar to keep the score at 1-0.
The Canadian national team created a flurry of chances late, attempting to find an equalizer, while the U.S. countered the open space provided in the back. Dunn made another run on the wing and found Morgan, who attempted to put the ball on frame but shot just wide in the 79th minute. But it didn’t take much longer for her to find a dagger to ice the match.
The United States will have matches in November that have yet to been announced, while Canada has none scheduled for the foreseeable future.
“Canada was a tough opponent,” Dunn said. “We always know going into these games that they bring their all and it’s not going to be an easy match. That’s their tactic, to stretch us and pin us up to our outside pockets. I think we performed well and handled their pressure really well tonight.”