The U.S. women's national team will get the chance to defend its Women's World Cup title.
After pulverizing its opponents in the group stage of the Concacaf Women's Championship, the U.S. continued with more of the same against Jamaica in the tournament semifinals in Frisco, Texas, winning 6-0 to clinch one of the region's automatic berths at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan each scored twice, while Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe added goals in the lopsided win.
The two semifinal winners–USA and Canada–are guaranteed berths, while the winner of the third-place game between Panama and Jamaica will also automatically qualify. The fourth-place finisher will head into an intercontinental playoff vs. Argentina for a final spot.
The group stage showing and the gulf in talent were indicators that the U.S. would finish the job Sunday night. The Americans outscored its three group opponents 18-0 and outshot its final group opponent, Trinidad & Tobago, 59-0 to ease to first place in Group A. Jamaica, which entered the night 0-2-0 all-time against the USA, has never qualified for the Women's World Cup before and outlasted Costa Rica and Cuba to finish second behind Canada in Group B.
The wide gap between the two was evident early. The U.S. continued its trend of scoring early in the competition, with Heath getting the hosts on the board in the second minute. Lindsey Horan's shot from the edge of the box was saved by Sydney Schneider, but it was parried right into the path of the dangerous Heath, who gathered the rebound with poise and fired home for a 1-0 lead.
Horan forced another save from Schneider in the ninth minute, curling a left-footed chance on frame, but the Jamaica goalkeeper made the strong save and held onto this one, not yielding a rebound.
The lead doubled in the 15th minute through Rapinoe, who received a perfect long diagonal ball from center back Abby Dahlkemper, took it down off her chest and finished from a left-sided angle, making it 2-0.
The lead grew to 3-0 six minutes later through Ertz. The defender-turned-midfielder found Crystal Dunn out wide, and she put herself in position to be on the receiving end of Dunn's cross, heading home from the doorstep to extend the advantage.
A pair of Portland Thorns stars combined in the 29th minute to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead. Horan served up a perfect ball into the center of the box for Heath, who hit a first-time volley to beat Schneider and add to the rout.
The U.S. remained relentless and padded the lead even more in the 33rd minute. Off a designed set-piece play, Rapinoe served in a ball from the left, and Morgan turned it in from eight yards out to make the score 5-0.
Jamaica had a rare attacking opportunity in the 71st minute, when forward Jody Brown got in behind the defense and appeared to carve out chance for a shot, only for U.S. center back Becky Sauerbrunn to come up with a well-timed sliding challenge, putting the ball out for a corner.
The U.S. took its foot off the accelerator for the bulk of the second half, but it was given a gift of a penalty kick in the 83rd minute, and Morgan obliged from the spot, scoring her second of the night to make it 6-0.
The USA and Canada will play for the regional title on Wednesday, but both will rest easy knowing their places in the Women's World Cup are secure.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
Here were the rosters for both teams:
GOALKEEPERS: Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Hailie Mace (UCLA), Kelly O'Hara (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars); Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage)
FORWARDS: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
GOALKEEPERS: Sydney Schneider (UNC-Wilmington), Nicole McLure (Sundsvalls DFF)
DEFENDERS: Allyson Swaby (Hottur), Chantelle Swaby (Rutgers University), Christina Chang (Miami FC Surge), Dominique Bond-Flasza (PSV Eindhoven), Jadyn Matthews (Cornell University), Konya Plummer (Florida Kraze Krush), Sashana Campbell (Maccabi Krishronot Hadera), Toriana Patterson (TTi Bluebonnets)
MIDFIELDERS: Ashleigh Shim (Unattached), Chinyelu Asher (Washington Spirit Reserves), Deneisha Blackwood (Florida Kraze Krush), Giselle Washington (Concord Fire), Khadija Shaw (University of Tennessee), Lauren Silver (Unattached), Marlo Sweatman (Unattached), Trudi Carter (Unattached)
FORWARDS: Jody Brown (Montverde Academy)