The U.S. women's national team completed its romp through the group stage of Women's World Cup qualifying, routing Trinidad & Tobago 7-0 in Cary, N.C., Wednesday night to secure a first-place finish in the competition's Group A.
After beating Mexico and Panama by a combined 11-0 tally, the USA finished off a perfect group run and put the final touches on a dominant showing, which should allow the Americans to avoid facing Canada in the all-important semifinal round of the Concacaf Women's Championship. The two winners of the semifinals–each group winner plays the opposite group's runner-up–automatically qualify for the World Cup in France next summer, while the third-place winner will also book its ticket. The fourth-place finisher will have to face Argentina in an intercontinental playoff for another berth.
The U.S. entered the night knowing that anything better than an unfathomable 12-0 loss would've been satisfactory and secured first place, but it still went out and enforced its will on a night of one-way traffic and chance after chance. Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle scored twice apiece, and Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath added goals as well to account for the scoring.
The U.S. dominated possession in the stages and nearly got on the board as the clock hit the four-minute mark, with Heath blazing a cross through the six-yard box. Alex Morgan appeared to be in possession to redirect it in, but the star forward missed on her offering, letting T&T off with just the warning shot.
A minute later, the U.S. thought it had scored, when Julie Ertz tapped home a loose ball after Horan's header off a free kick hit off the post, but Ertz was ruled offside, thus disallowing the goal.
After a couple of more close calls, in which the U.S. hit the post again and Horan fired a volley over the bar, the Americans scored. Heath looked for Morgan again on a low cross from the right, and this time the forward redirected it home, turning her body and glancing it in to make it 1-0 in the ninth minute.
The U.S. kept goalkeeper Saundra Baron busy after that, forcing two highlight-reel saves before the quarter-hour mark that kept the deficit one at the time.
The woodwork was also Baron's best friend, with Morgan firing a 25th-minute blast that hit the crossbar, marking the third time the U.S. hit the frame of the goal in the early going.
Baron then denied Morgan on her own in the 29th minute, with Kelley O'Hara finding Morgan at the near post, only for the T&T goalkeeper to block her shooting lane and make the save.
The post saved Baron again in the 40th minute, when Dunn let a 20-yard blast fly, only to hit the left upright.
At last, the U.S. had another shot find the back of the net, and it came from Lavelle, whose long-range blast beat Baron to make it 2-0.
A minute later, Lavelle was at it again, cleaning up a loose ball out in front and poking it home to extend the lead to 3-0 as the rain strengthened at Sahlen's Stadium.
Lavelle's strike opened the floodgates, creating room for Dunn to make it 4-0 just before halftime. She caught all of a bounding ball just outside the box, unleashing a right-footed blast that beat Baron and padded the lead.
The pressure continued in the second half, and another goal followed in the 49th minute through Horan, who fired a 23-yard right-footed blast by Baron after Ertz had an initial long-range chance blocked. Moments later, Morgan scored her second of the night to make it 6-0.
Heath got in behind and had a point-blank chance denied by a sliding Baron, but the rebound fell to Morgan, who hit both posts before her close-range chance trickled over the line.
Heath scored one of her own just before the hour mark. Megan Rapinoe delivered a pinpoint ball from the left, and Heath ran onto it by the near post, tapping it by a helpless Baron to make it 7-0 and cap the scoring for the night.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
The U.S. will play in Sunday's semifinals, with the identity of its opponent determined on Thursday. Canada currently leads Group B with six points and has a vastly superior goal differential, while Jamaica and Costa Rica are level on three points, with the later maintaining a +8 goal differential between the two. Jamaica gets to face Cuba, which has yet to score and conceded 20 times in two matches, while Costa Rica must face Canada in their respective group finales.