Once the United States Women’s National Team stopped hitting the woodwork and started hitting the back of the net, the rout was on at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The USWNT scored four times in the first half on what seemed like hundreds of shots, but continuously pounded the goal frame or saw their attempts well saved by goalkeeper Saundra Baron. The floodgates finally opened late in the first half on the way to a 7-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago to finish 3-0 in Group A play.
Alex Morgan opened the scoring early and then hit the post once and crossbar twice, and then had a couple of other first-half chances well saved by Baron. Eventually Rose Lavelle added a brace and Crystal Dunn scored to give the Yanks breathing room by halftime. Morgan completed her brace in the second half and Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath added goals for good measure.
The United States will play in the Concacaf Championship semifinals on Sunday.
Jill Ellis went back to the starting lineup against Mexico, with Morgan wearing the captain’s armband between Megan Rapinoe and Heath up top.
The U.S. opened the game with a couple early near-misses, with Dunn sending a cross just over Horan three minutes in, and Morgan just missing a bouncing cross from Heath a moment later. Horan became the first player to find the woodwork in the sixth minute, crushing the post with a header and Julie Ertz was offside so it didn’t count when she put the rebound in the net.
In the seventh minute, Baron denied Morgan from point-blank range on a header attempt and the ball fell for Heath, who saw her shot blocked off the goal line by the defense as the entire first half was played in T&T’s defensive third. Horan followed with a volley over the net off a corner kick in the eighth minute.
Morgan finally got the breakthrough in the ninth minute, redirecting a Heath cross past Baron while running away from the front of goal on a shot that was much more difficult than she made it look. It was Morgan’s 93rd career goal.
Morgan hit the post in the 13th minute and the shot then caromed off the woodwork and hit a defender on the line. A minute later, Ertz somehow missed a setup from Rapinoe in front of goal. Horan forced a good reaction save in the 15th from Baron as the shots just kept raining down on the T&T goal.
Becky Sauerbrunn took the first of several shots in the game for the center back in the 16th minute, but her effort sailed over the bar. Morgan rocked the crossbar in the 18th minute with her second shot off the frame. At the 20-minute mark, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher finally touched the ball for the first time in the game, taking a back pass from her defense after Trinidad & Tobago cleared a corner kick. Yes, the game was that lopsided.
In the 23rd minute, Lavelle smashed a shot that forced a diving stop by Baron and the light bulb went on that perhaps some shots from distance would bear more fruit. However, the T&T defense went to work with a couple more efforts from the top of the box, blocking shots by Sauerbrunn and Rapinoe, followed by another effort over the bar from Sauerbrunn.
Morgan hit the crossbar again in the 26th minute, giving her the rare woodwork hat trick. Three minutes later, Morgan again could have scored but this time Baron robbed the Orlando Pride striker from point-blank range at the near post off a gorgeous pass from Kelley O’Hara.
Crystal Dunn took her turn smashing a shot off the post in the 40th minute, and it started to seem ridiculous at this point. It didn’t last much longer, however. Seconds after Horan headed a shot right at Baron, Lavelle scorched one from distance that Baron couldn’t get and neither could the woodwork, as the lead finally grew to 2-0.
Once Lavelle finally solved the USWNT’s problem of hitting the goal frame, the ball started flying into the net regularly. Lavelle got a second goal just two minutes after her first, earning her first USWNT brace.
Dunn made it 4-0 with a crack from the top of the area in the 45th as the shots from about 20 yards started to become more and more effective.
Halftime mercifully came for Trinidad & Tobago, with the USWNT completely dominating play. Not only did T&T never get a look at goal or attempt a shot, the ball rarely crossed midfield.
It didn’t take the Yanks long to pick up where they left off. Four minutes after the restart it was Horan’s turn to knock one in.
A minute later, Morgan hit the post yet again. But this time the ball was kind enough to go home, deflecting off the woodwork along the goal line and into the other side of the net. The brace gave her 94 career goals and a little solace on a night that began brightly but could have become quite frustrating for the star forward.
She wasn’t done getting chances, however. Morgan had a shot blocked in the 52nd and fired directly at Baron in the 53rd as she continued to rack up shot attempts.
Heath fired at Baron in the 55th and Ertz saw her shot deflected behind for a corner in the 57th. Abby Dahlkemper had a go on the ensuing set piece but shot wide. Heath finally got herself a goal in the 58th, tapping in a cross from Rapinoe to make it 7-0.
At the hour mark, Morgan was inches from a hat trick after Heath’s cross fizzed just a tad too far in front of her. It was her last action of the match, as Ellis subbed her out for Sam Mewis a minute later.
From that point on, it was a series of shots at Baron or over the bar for the U.S., which never stopped keeping the pressure on. The Yanks did slow the pace of the attack down but continued to pass and look for opportunities to grab an eighth goal, which never came. It’s OK though, because it wasn’t needed.
The U.S. out-shot Trinidad & Tobago 52-0 (seriously), getting 28 attempts on target, and owning a 75%-25% advantage in possession. The Yanks hit 82% of their pass attempts and out-passed the visitors, 355-63. The USWNT had a 19-0 advantage in corner kicks.
The United States finished group play with a +18 goal differential and didn’t concede, averaging six goals per game, and certainly could have scored more in the last two matches.
The USWNT improved to 35-1-1 all-time in the Concacaf Championship, 14-0-2 in 2018, and 21-0-3 since the 2017 Tournament of Nations. But things will get tougher now with a semifinal match coming on Sunday. A win on Sunday clinches a World Cup berth. Group B will finish up on Thursday.
Panama finished second in Group A after a 2-0 win over Mexico and will play the winner of Group B.