U.S. opens World Cup qualifying with 6-0 win over Mexico
The United States is in first place in Group A

The United States opened the Concacaf Women’s Championship on Thursday with a 6-0 win over Mexico, at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, home of the North Carolina Courage. The tournament, Concacaf’s qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, takes place from October 4-17.

After the win, the United States sits on top of Group A. Panama is in second place after their 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago.

Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe wore the captain’s armband for the second time in her career, and she celebrated with a brace on Thursday night. She first wore the armband on May 10, 2015 vs. Ireland.

Rapinoe wasted no time in finding the back of the net, scoring her 39th international goal in just the third minute. After a misclear in the box by Mexico, Lindsey Horan ran the ball down before Mexico goalkeeper Bianca Henninger could get to it. Horan sent it into the middle of the box and Rapinoe tapped it home.

The game marked Horan’s first with the USWNT since being named 2018 NWSL MVP last month following her stellar season for Portland Thorns FC and she recorded two assists for the U.S. on Thursday night.

The U.S. had a few more chances in the first half, but the game stayed 1-0. Rose Lavelle hit the post in the 26th minute. Tobin Heath‘s cross forced a defender clearance near the goal line in the 32nd minute. Horan had two strong shots on goal blocked in the 34th and 35th minutes. Henninger came up big in the 37th minute with a kick save to deny Rapinoe a goal.

Henninger (Houston Dash) started in goal for Mexico, with Katie Johnson (Sky Blue FC) and Christina Murillo (Chicago Red Stars) as available subs. Johnson subbed on in the 60th minute and Murillo came on in the 78th minute.

But while the first half ended just 1-0, the second half was all United States as they broke the game open.

“We needed to clean up a little bit,” Rapinoe told Fox Sports’ Alex Curry after the game. “Not as much movement off the ball as we would’ve wanted [in the first half]. I think we started to do that better in the second half and it just opens up so much more.”

The United States got their second goal early in the second half after Horan was fouled in the final third. Rapinoe took the free kick, sending it into the box, with the rebound bouncing off the crossbar. The ball then bounced back into the six-yard box. Horan tapped it to Julie Ertz, who knocked it in to make it 2-0.

Alex Morgan scored her first goal of the night in the 57th minute. Morgan headed in a Rapinoe corner kick to make it 3-0.

Tobin Heath made it 4-0 in the 61st minute, heading home a cross from Crystal Dunn.

Lavelle and Kelley O’Hara both subbed out in the 66th minute, as the pair continue to work their way back to full fitness following injuries. They were replaced by Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) and Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC), respectively. Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) replaced Heath in the 77th minute.

Rapinoe made it 5-0 in the 70th minute after some chaos in the box following a Heath corner kick. Horan won the ball in the air, and Lloyd went down in a collision with Henniger. The loose ball bounced to Rapinoe, standing alone in the box, and she tapped it for her second goal of the game and 40th of her international career.

Becky Sauerbrunn sprung into the attack and earned an assist in the 80th minute, passing up a shot and dishing to Morgan, who finished for her second goal of the night. Morgan now has 92 international goals, and has scored 19 goals in her last 21 USWNT games.

The United States came into the match 27-1 all-time in World Cup qualifying, with the only loss coming to Mexico in 2010. That 2-1 loss sent the United States to the play-off where they beat Italy for the final spot in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The United States had outscored opponents 158-5 in those 28 games, before Thursday night’s win.

The United States starting line-up: Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC).

The tournament continues Friday with Group B action from Edinburg, Texas, with Costa Rica vs. Cuba and Canada vs. Jamaica. [Full Schedule]

The top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. The fourth-place finisher will head to a home-and-away playoff with Argentina for a spot in next summer’s tournament.


Trinidad & Tobago 0 | Panama 3

In the first game of the tournament, Panama beat Trinidad & Tobago 3-0 on goals from Kenia Rangel, Marta Cox and Erika Hernández. Yenith Bailey made seven saves to earn the clean sheet for Panama. [Match Report]

The game marked the first in this tournament for Panama since 2006, and they earned the win over Trinidad & Tobago, who finished fourth in 2015.

Group A continues Sunday. Panama will face the United States and Trinidad & Tobago will take on Mexico.


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