The United States Women’s National Team took its second step toward World Cup qualifying with a lopsided win over Panama at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The U.S. got a first-half brace and an eventual hat trick from Carli Lloyd and cruised to an easy 5-0 win.
The U.S. stands atop Group A at 2-0-0 with six points and a +11 goal differential and should Mexico draw Trinidad & Tobago in the late game, it would give the USWNT the group with one match still to play. If any other team in the group reaches six points, it would have to overcome a huge goal differential and that’s simply not happening. The U.S. is as good as through to the knockout round which will determine which three teams will head to the 2019 World Cup.
Jill Ellis did a lot of rotating from the starting squad that took the pitch on Thursday against Mexico. Only Julie Ertz and Abby Dahlkemper returned to their starting roles from the Mexico match. Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris started in place of Alyssa Naeher, while Alex Morgan was replaced by Lloyd. The entire attacking line was switched out, with Lloyd flanked by Christen Press and Mallory Pugh. Sam Mewis and Morgan Brian replaced Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle, with Casey Short, Hailie Mace — in her first USWNT start — and Emily Sonnett stepping in on the back line for Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Kelley O’Hara, respectively.
The USWNT jumped on the front foot immediately and earned a free kick in the fourth minute when Marta Cox fouled Mewis from behind just above the penalty area. Mewis took the set piece, which deflected off the wall and was headed just under the bar but 17-year-old goalkeeper Yenith Bailey made the save, handing the U.S. a corner.
The first goal came from that corner in the fifth minute. Press delivered the cross into the area, where Mewis nodded it just inside the far post to make it 1-0.
Lloyd nodded a shot off the crossbar in the 11th minute but was ruled offside, but that was only a momentary setback for the offense. Three minutes later, Lloyd was all alone in front to take a cross but her header was right at Bailey and her rebound attempt was denied by a great reaction save by Bailey with an assist from the left post.
Yenith Bailey, Panama's 17-year-old keeper, making saves. pic.twitter.com/BwJ2Ux5ZQ4— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) October 7, 2018
Mewis sent one off outside netting in the 22nd minute after a great through ball from Press. A minute later, the U.S. doubled its lead on another corner kick. Lloyd arrived for a free header at the back post and powered it through Bailey to make it 2-0.
Despite the lopsided first half, the United States would have completely embarrassed Panama if not for Bailey, who made several huge stops to keep the score from getting even more out of hand. She robbed Pugh in the 24th minute after the Washington Spirit forward got in behind the defense. Mace sent one right at Bailey in the 28th minute off another corner kick.
A minute later, Lloyd scored her second. She took a pass in the box, made a great fake to the outside, then cut inside past two defenders and blasted a shot into the upper 90 on the right side to make it 3-0 in the 29th minute.
In the 31st minute, Lloyd nearly completed her hat trick when she was slipped in alone but Bailey scrambled off her line to take it off her foot. But the onslaught continued a minute later when Dahlkemper’s long ball unlocked the defense and sent Press in alone on goal. She rounded Bailey patiently and fired into the empty net to make it 4-0.
Press nearly got her second in the 39th if not for a save by Bailey. Then Bailey denied Lloyd in front in the 41st and made a great save with her right foot in the 42nd on Brian.
That was the final chance of the half as the U.S. completely dominated the game and only the heroics of Bailey kept the United States from potentially reaching double digit goals. Panama didn’t attempt a shot in the opening period.
The United States continued to own the game, adding a fifth goal early in the second half. Lloyd completed her hat trick on a header off a set piece delivery from halftime sub Rose Lavelle, making it 5-0 in the 48th minute.
A Hat Trick for Carli Lloyd! ⚽️⚽️⚽️— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) October 7, 2018
The goals keep on coming for the USWNT. pic.twitter.com/jjeYANIQmz
Pugh nearly scored in the 50th minute on a shot that was cleared off the line and then Bailey again robbed Press 1-v-1 in the 53rd minute. Press headed a ball into the net off a throw-in play in the 55th but the play was whistled offside. Mewis got her head on it first, but Lloyd came back from an offside position to nod it to Press. Lloyd then sent a screamer at the net in the 60th but it was blocked just in front of goal.
Panama finally got a good look in the 61st minute when a ball out of the corner deflected into the area to Laurie Batista, but with a lot of time and space at her disposal, she completely missed the net, firing well over Harris’ goal.
The relentless attack from the U.S. continued a minute later, with Lloyd chipping one off the crossbar in the 62nd and Pugh missing high on the follow-up.
Panama finally got a shot on target in the 69th off a corner kick. The ball popped out to the top of the penalty area where Aldrith Quintero scorched a shot on goal but Harris punched it away with a solid save to preserve the shutout.
Lavelle was nearly in alone a minute later but she was pulled down in the open field by Katherine Castillo, who was booked for the tactical foul. Lavelle took the free kick herself and went for goal but hit it right at Bailey. Two minutes later, Pugh finally scored through two defenders after a collision in the box between Bailey, her own defender, and Lloyd. The bulk of the contact came from the Panamanian defender but Bailey was down injured and after a brief delay to attend to Bailey, Pugh’s goal was disallowed.
The 78th minute was eventful, with Pugh sliding a cross to Press, who missed wide. Seconds later, Pugh mishit a header but the looping effort found the crossbar. Lloyd fired a shot off Bailey in the 81st and on the ensuing corner, sent another shot that Bailey stopped. Press then cut inside from the end line and fired over the bar in the 83rd as the U.S. just kept coming.
Lloyd laid a ball off for Press in the 88th minute but the Utah Royals star’s curling effort didn’t curl enough to find the inside of the back post, flying a few feet wide instead.
Moments later the final whistle ended things mercifully for Panama and the U.S. stood alone at the top of Group A with a monster goal differential. The U.S. out-shot Panama, 37-3 (that is not a typo), with an 18-2 advantage in shots on goal. The Yanks also held lopsided advantages in corner kicks (9-1), and possession (68%-32%), with both teams committing seven fouls each.
The United States is now 34-1-1 all-time in the Concacaf Championship, 13-0-2 in 2018, and 20-0-3 since the 2017 Tournament of Nations.
The United States will finish Group A play on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Trinidad & Tobago, again at WakeMed Soccer Park. The game can be seen on FS2 and UDN.