The U.S. women's national team has qualified for the 2020 Olympics after a 4-0 win over Mexico Friday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.
Goals from Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis in the fifth and 14th minutes set the tone for the rout, with Mewis scoring a second and Christen Press finding the back of the net off the bench to account for the goals. The U.S. improved to 22-0-1 all-time in Concacaf's Olympic qualifying tournament and will head to Tokyo along with Canada, which beat Costa Rica 1-0 earlier Friday for the region's other berth.
The USA and Canada will play Sunday for the tournament title, which is effectively for bragging rights. The competition's prizes have been won, with the two teams joining host Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands and Team Great Britain as part of the 12-team field.
It marks the seventh consecutive Olympics for which the USWNT has qualified, though it has a bad taste in its collective mouth following a quarterfinal exit in 2016. No reigning Women's World Cup winner has ever followed up with Olympic gold the following summer, giving the U.S. a clear objective this summer.
The U.S. was on the front foot early and had a goal wiped off the board in the fourth minute, after Julie Ertz's header forward found Megan Rapinoe. The reigning Ballon d'Or winner was offside and also handled the ball in the process of finishing. Rapinoe narrowly missed another chance a minute later, pushing a chance wide of the mark.
Lavelle gave the U.S. the early lead anyway some 30 seconds later. Ertz headed back an attempted Mexico clearance at midfield toward Rapinoe, who found Lavelle with a short pass. She dribbled forward and laced a left-footed blast from the edge of the box–a goal similar to the one she scored to ice the Women's World Cup final in July.
The lead became 2-0 in the 14th minute, with Mewis's first-time finish off a Rapinoe corner kick punishing Mexico with a routine straight off the training ground. Ertz played a role in this goal too, with her near-post run taking defenders with her and creating space for Mewis.
Mexico did settle down after the early concessions, even forcing a couple of nervy moments in the back for the U.S., but Alyssa Naeher remained resolute in goal, and ultimately wasn't challenged with a dangerous chance on frame.
The U.S. nearly made it 3-0 right after halftime. Carli Lloyd drew a foul just outside the Mexico box, and Rapinoe stood over the free kick, with Mexico expecting a direct chance on goal. Instead, she squared it to a streaking Crystal Dunn, who pulled her chance from the center of the box just wide and couldn't score on a night when she earned her 100th cap.
It could have been three just before the hour mark as well, with Mewis unselfishly heading across goal to Lloyd instead of trying to turn her header on frame from close range. Lloyd overhit her first-time opportunity, keeping the lead at 2-0.
Mewis got the USA's third seven minutes later. Rapinoe ran over the ball on a free kick from the edge of the box, clearing the way for Mewis to take it, and she rifled home a right-footed blast to give the U.S. the 3-0 lead.
The U.S. didn't relent, with Press and Lynn Williams coming off the bench and Press scoring for a sixth straight match. She had her first opportunity denied before chipping the goalkeeper from close range to make it 4-0 in the 73rd minute.
Williams had a chance of her own soon after coming on, missing an opportunity to make the lead five, but by that point the result–and the USA's ticket to Tokyo–was well in hand.
Here were the lineups for both teams:
Here are the rosters for both sides:
GOALKEEPERS: Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride)
MIDFIELDERS: Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
FORWARDS: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
GOALKEEPERS: Cecilia Santiago (PSV Eindhoven), Emily Alvarado (Texas Christian University), Itzel Gonzalez (Tijuana)
DEFENDERS: Kenti Robles (Atletico Madrid), Janelly Farias (Chivas), Jocelyn Orejel (Tijuana), Jimena Lopez (Texas A&M), Bianca Sierra (Tigres), Mariana Cadena (Monterrey)
MIDFIELDERS: Rebeca Bernal (Monterrey), Stephany Mayor (Tigres), Jacqueline Ovalle (Tigres), Karla Nieto (Pachuca), Diana Evangelista (Monterrey), Liliana Mercado (Tigres), Maria Sanchez (Chivas)
FORWARDS: Daniela Espinosa (Club America), Kiana Palacios (Real Sociedad), Renae Cuellar (Tijuana), Adriana Iturbide (Atlas)