Women's World Cup Qualifying: USA blanks Mexico to qualify for World Cup
CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Carli Lloyd scored a pair of goals in a 3-0 semifinal victory over Mexico on Friday night, securing the United States a trip to next year's World Cup and a spot in the CONCACAF Woman's Championship match on Sunday.
The U.S. women will face Costa Rica, which earned its first World Cup appearance by defeating Trinidad and Tobago on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in the earlier match at PPL Park on Friday night.
The top three finishers in the championship for the North, Central American and Caribbean region earn World Cup bids and the fourth-place finisher will have another chance in a match against Ecuador next month.
Mexico will play Trinidad and Tobago in the third-place match on Sunday.
Lloyd scored in the eighth minute on a header off a bouncing cross from Tobin Heath to give the United States the early lead. She added a goal on a penalty kick in the 30th minute.
Christen Press scored into an empty net after working around Mexico goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar, who came off her line in the 56th minute.
Christie Rampone celebrated her 300th international appearance. She's just the second player to reach the milestone after Kristine Lilly with 352.
The U.S. team has been ranked No. 1 in the world for the past five years and was the easy favorite going into the eight-team CONCACAF tournament. The women swept the group stage to advance to the semifinal against Mexico.
Costa Rica, the first Central American team to qualify for the World Cup, has not dropped a match in the qualifying tournament, either.
"I want to give thanks to the whole team for the sacrifice we all made, and to our country — which had so much desire to qualify for a Women's World Cup. When I was in goal, I felt the whole country behind me," goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz said through translator after the victory over Trinidad and Tobago.
The group stage wasn't without adversity for the United States, however. Forward Alex Morgan sprained her left ankle during a win over Guatemala and will miss four-to-six weeks. Morgan injured the same ankle last October and was sidelined seven months.
Back in 2010, the US women were also expected to have an easy run through qualifying but were stunned by Mexico in the semifinal.
The 2-1 loss in Cancun ultimately forced the United States into a two-game playoff against Italy which the team won 2-0 on aggregate. At the World Cup in Germany the next year, the United States fell to Japan in the final on penalty kicks.
The United States improved to 26-1-0 in CONCACAF qualifying.
Mexico lost in the CONCACAF tournament opener to Costa Rica, and finished second in its group going into the semifinal.
Known by the nickname Las Tri, Mexico was the runner-up at the 2010 CONCACAF championship, and did not advance out of the group stage at the World Cup.