Lavelle, Morgan lead US women past Trinidad and Tobago
CARY, N.C. (AP) — The United States is rolling in pursuit of another berth in the Women’s World Cup.
Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan scored two goals apiece to help the U.S. women beat Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 on Wednesday night in the World Cup qualifying tournament.
Tobin Heath added a goal and two assists for the United States, which led 4-0 at halftime.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, the United States advances to the CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals in Frisco, Texas, on Sunday. The U.S. cruised through round-robin play in Group A with a 3-0 record, outscoring its opponents 18-0.
“This was about building momentum,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “This was a good way to finish our group stage. Now the focus shifts to qualifying.”
The United States scored three goals in a four-minute span late in the first half to pull away from Trinidad and Tobago, which finished 0-3 in the group stage.
It was a result that spoke to the huge gap between the U.S. men’s and women’s national team programs. The American men lost to Trinidad and Tobago, at the time the world’s 99th-ranked team, last October to miss out on qualifying for the World Cup.
The U.S. women are the defending World Cup champions, having beaten Japan in the final in 2015.
“I can’t see anyone beating them in the near future because they are so deep,” Trinidad and Tobago coach Shawn Cooper said.
The U.S. women outshot injury-depleted Trinidad and Tobago 59-0 and had an 18-0 advantage in corner kicks.
They did not allow a shot in the first half of any of their three games in group play.
“I think the awesome thing is we know that we still haven’t reached our full potential,” Lavelle said. “I think that’s really exciting going into the next game. We just want to build on this and play even better than we did this game.”
With steady rain falling, Lavelle scored on a left-footed blast from outside the penalty area in the 41st minute to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. She scored again less than 90 seconds later, and Crystal Dunn added another goal just before halftime.
Lavelle fell awkwardly to the turf after colliding with a defender as she scored her second goal, and she did not play in the second half. Ellis said the substitution for Lavelle, who is still working her way back from a hamstring injury, was planned.
“I’m good,” Lavelle said. “I am sturdy.”
Morgan had her second multi-goal game in a week and the 25th in her international career.
The U.S. knew before the game that it had clinched its spot in the semifinals. Trinidad and Tobago had already been eliminated after losses to Panama and Mexico.
The United States changed nine members of its starting lineup for the second consecutive match, switching back to the starting 11 it used in its tournament opener against Mexico.
The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 24 matches and improved to 11-0-0 all time against Trinidad and Tobago.
The United States will be joined in the CONCACAF semifinals by Panama, which finished second in Group A, and two qualifiers from Group B, which includes Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba and Jamaica.
The winners of Sunday’s two semifinal matches and the third-place match on Oct. 17 will qualify for the World Cup in France. The fourth-place finisher will take on Argentina in a two-game playoff for a berth in the tournament.