- The defending champs are headed to France. With a fourth straight rout and clean sheet at the Concacaf Women's Championship, the U.S. women punched their 2019 World Cup ticket in dominant fashion.
FRISCO, Tex. — The U.S. women’s national team earned a berth in World Cup 2019 on Sunday with a 6-0 victory against an overmatched Jamaica in the semifinals of the Concacaf Women’s Championship.
Tobin Heath scored on a rebound less than two minutes into the game, and the rout was on from there. The U.S. led 5-0 after just 33 minutes. The U.S. goals came from Heath (two), Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan (two) and Julie Ertz.
The U.S. will face Canada (another qualifier for France 2019 on Sunday) in Wednesday’s regional final. Meanwhile, Jamaica will meet Panama in the third-place game. The third-place winner will also earn a berth at the World Cup—Jamaica or Panama will make it for the first time—while the fourth-place finisher will go to a home-and-home playoff against Argentina for one of the final spots in the Women's World Cup field of 24 countries.
Here are three thoughts on the game:
• No, Jamaica wasn’t good, but the U.S. was fantastic
The quality and execution of the U.S. goals was often outrageous on Sunday. Take your pick. Maybe your favorite was the second goal, when center back Abby Dahlkemper hit a majestic ball that Rapinoe trapped on her chest before hitting a missile into the top corner. Or maybe it was the ball from Lindsey Horan that Heath one-timed home for the fourth. Or maybe it was the brilliant cross from Crystal Dunn, running at speed, that Ertz thundered in with her head for goal No. 3. You get the idea.
It’s not that the Jamaicans were totally inept in this game. They weren’t. But the U.S. playing at its best is untouchable by any team in the world, and the U.S. in the first half on Sunday (before the rains came in the second half) was very close to its best.
• Concacaf has a problem
Both of Sunday’s semifinals—Canada 7, Panama 0 and USA 6, Jamaica 0—were monster blowouts, reflecting a tournament that has been full of them. It does say something that Jamaica and Panama advanced to the semifinals instead of the expected Mexico and Costa Rica. But the gap between the two Concacaf heavyweights (USA and Canada) and the rest of the confederation has only grown over the past four years.
Remember when Mexico beat the U.S. 2-1 in the qualifying tournament for World Cup 2011? That result would be unthinkable now. We’ve talked a lot lately about FIFA and Concacaf needing to do more not just to incentivize but to require national federations to spend the money they receive from FIFA on the women’s game. That call should be louder than ever.
• The U.S. front three is a force right now
I’m having a hard time remembering any point in the past when every USWNT forward was in such good form at the exact same time. Heath was a menace from the opening minute, putting defenders under pressure, making dangerous runs and finishing with ruthless efficiency. Rapinoe took her goal with an ease—that first touch; that finish—that belied how difficult it was. And Morgan has now scored 24 goals in her last 23 international games.
Nor is it just about their individual performances. This is a front three with tremendous chemistry. Their movement is constant, their width creates huge problems, and they present back lines with a devastating task to try to contain any one of them, much less all three.