USWNT can clinch semifinal with win over Mexico

Jeff Kassouf February 13, 2016 64
Alex Morgan scored 12 seconds into the match to lift the USWNT to a 5-0 win over Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying. The U.S. can clinch a ticket to the semifinals with a win over Mexico on Saturday. (AP Photo)

Alex Morgan scored 12 seconds into the match to lift the USWNT to a 5-0 win over Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying. The U.S. can clinch a ticket to the semifinals with a win over Mexico on Saturday. (AP Photo)

U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis called Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over Costa Rica the “perfect start” to CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying.

Any argument against that would be stopped short quicker than Alex Morgan can score off the opening kickoff — all of 12 seconds, as we learned on Wednesday.

And now the U.S. women, embroiled in yet another off-field distraction — their own federation taking them to court, of course, and now talk of the Zika virus — which, at least externally, doesn’t seem to be bothering them, take on old foes Mexico on Saturday with a chance to clinch a berth to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in Frisco, Texas.

[WATCH: Christen Press scores after immaculate first touch, spin move]

Advancing to the semifinals is always a formality for the United States at these tournaments. And with Mexico and Costa Rica in the American’s group and Canada likely to run away with Group B, there seems little in the way of the U.S. steamrolling through the all-important semifinal to qualify for the Olympics.

Mexico has only a win and a draw to its name in 33 all-time meetings against the United States, although that one victory is considered the greatest upset in women’s soccer history. Mexico beat the U.S., 2-1 in 2011 World Cup qualifying, forcing the No. 1-ranked Americans to go into a two-leg playoff with Italy to win earn the final World Cup berth.

That was fresh on the minds of the U.S. women when they met Mexico in World Cup qualifying in 2014, and they are keenly aware that there are no do-overs in Olympic qualifying, no playoffs to make up for mistakes. The two semifinal winners are headed to Rio, and the rest of CONCACAF is sitting at home this summer.

Thus, the U.S. could put in another merciless performance against Mexico on Saturday just as the one seen against Costa Rica, who is arguably the better of the two foes at this point.

“We want to make sure we get those three points and hopefully score as many goals as possible because we want to make sure we pad it so there’s no chance that we don’t go through. We want to make this as uninteresting as possible,” U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg told Big Apple Soccer. “That’s our goal going against Mexico and every team we’re going to play.”

That could be especially bad for Mexico if Leo Cuellar rests some key players in preparation for a likely win-and-in-the-semifinals match against Costa Rica on Monday. Cuellar rested players against the U.S. in 2015 World Cup qualifying semifinals in order to win the third-place game against Trinidad and Tobago, and it worked — barely.

[EXCLUSIVE: Ellis says door still open for O’Reilly, Rapinoe for 2016 Olympics]

Mexico enters Saturday’s match on a recent high. El Tri defeated Puerto Rico, 6-0 on Wednesday behind a hat trick from 37-year-old program pioneer Maribel Dominguez, whose resurgence seems to have added some swagger back into this Mexico team. Sure, they beat Puerto Rico, but they actually looked like they had some belief in doing so, which hasn’t been the case for Mexico in several years.

The early match is sneakily perhaps even juicier. Garabet Avedissian leads Puerto Rico against Costa Rica for the first time. Avedissian led the renaissance of women’s soccer in Costa Rica, qualifying the senior team for the World Cup in late 2014 but leaving the program to take the Puerto Rico job before even coaching Costa Rica at the 2015 World Cup. Externally, the move still seemed bizarre, but Avedissian said this was essentially his dream job. On Saturday, he could just ruin his old team’s Olympic hopes (but that seems very unlikely).

  • Steglitz49

    Roll out the barrel. Let’s have a barrel of laughs. Final score? 7-0?

    Attendance? Maybe 27,359?

    • guest

      Toyota Stadium listed capacity is 20,500 so the 27,359 guess is a little high

      • Steglitz49

        Thank you. But, why bother with reality? WoSo fans don’t.

    • Rdalford

      USWNT vs Mexico match attendance 15,032 (as posted on US soccer site)

      • Steglitz49

        How do we interpret that?

        Less than watched the US beat Ireland — and this for a match with some theoretical meaning. Is WoSo the game of the Irish-American community?

  • Free Stream?

    Does anyone know if the NBC stream will be free and without authorization again? thanks!!

    • F0OtballNowAndAlways

      Haven’t seen anything about a free stream, but a replay of the Costa Rica match comes on when you go to the stream site again.

    • Rdalford

      No sign-on/authorization was required for NBC Sports Live Extra for today’s Costa Rico v Puerto Rica match (currently in 89th min).
      So hopefully sign-on not required for USA V Mex match.

      USA v Mex match also airs on live TV on NBC Universo channel
      and then again on tape delay on NBC Sports Network later tonight.

      • Rdalford

        NO!
        – the NBC Sports Live Extra is now requiring authorization to access the USA v Mex match –

        heading for soccer bar to (hopefully) be able to watch the Spanish language live TV coverage on NBC Universo

        • Steglitz49

          There is no such thing as a free lunch, you know.

        • schoup

          A sports bar is not going to have NBC live extra which is streamed service and not a cable network. The replay of the game will be on NBCSN at 830ET, it’s pretty easy to find a stream of NBCSN on the many sites that stream channels.

          • Rdalford

            Sports bar did have match on live TV on NBC Universo
            (the NBC spanish lang station)

            However being able to watch live did not improve the match being played by USWNT

          • kernel_thai

            US will do better on the replay. They just need to do a little editing.

          • guest

            can they edit out the coach?

    • David K Anderson

      Definitely NOT streaming w/o a cable subscription/authorization. So this time us no-TV folk are out in the cold (‘speshly since there’s no bootleg stream, which happens a lot, since the stream aggregators are largely in Europe and don’t care about WoSo…). If I’d known, I’d have headed out to a Portland pub that’s soccer friendly (like Bazi) and watched it there. Annoyed…

      • mockmook

        As schoup pointed out, NBCSN is replaying the game, but at 6:30PM PT (schoup has the time wrong according to NBC).

        So, perhaps you can hit a soccer friendly pub after-all.

        • kernel_thai

          This coudnt have worked out worse for NBC. First they upset people who cant get the stream then they get a dog of a match killing their delayed broadcast. Now if ur a Mexican fan u should watch it.

          • mockmook

            That might be a bigger audience 🙂

          • kernel_thai

            They had a decent crowd…I bet a good percentage were Mexican American. Mexico-CR should be a fun watch.

      • guest

        Same here. Annoyed they would let us watch the first game free and then pull the rug out from under us on the second. What kind of marketing is that. They must be smoking crack up there at 30 ‘rock’. Anyway, there were Mexican streams if you dug around, so the joke’s on them. Also, they might let you watch the replay.

  • schoup

    Unless they throw as stinker and manage to lose tie, the line up in the 3rd game vs Puerto Rico will be all of the newbies and vets who aren’t starters.

    • Frozen Blue

      I’m really looking forward to seeing that. We are going to have games against weaker opponents in the olympics where we need these players to step up and win a game for us giving the starters a rest.

      • schoup

        In the Olympics you play on 2 days rest for every game. So, you have to play subs at some point as starters. Past Olympics US plays their best lineup the 1st 2 games and if they win both they usually play some subs in the 3rd group game to have everyone fresh for the KO round. Some of the players that are indisposable will have to be rested against weaker opponents. Brian is the only holding MF that can be trusted/proven so she will need to rested 3rd game for sure if possible.

  • newsouth

    Smash Tomato Cans with a Wrecking Ball Tournament continues. Geez, I didn’t even know Puerto Rico had a NT team.

  • Guesting

    Costa Rica has matched the score that Mexico put up on Puerto Rico with more than 20 left to play.

    • Guesting

      It now has reached 7 goals for Costa Rica, a record for them in Concacaf qualifying.

  • Guesting

    USA beats Costa Rica 5-0 and Costa Rica beats Puerto Rico 9-0 means the USA should be good for how many goals against Puerto Rico????? It would be better served for both teams and the image of the game that the USA use all of the subs for the game against Puerto Rico, and then again they may not even help. At least it will be a good chance to give the younger players of the group some playing time.

  • schoup

    NO free stream for game today.

    • Steglitz49

      Why should there be? This pro-WoSo. Has to pay its way, else it is am-WoSo.

      • schoup

        Just stating a fact and btw, NBC livextra is something you get for the cable pkg you already have, So, the notion of Wo-so paying etc..is not so much the case. It’s the same as ESPN watch streaming concept. Not a new revenue producer just an extra benefit for those already paying.

        • Steglitz49

          Thank you.

    • guest

      Live TV broadcast on NBC Universo (the NBC spanish language channel)

  • Guest

    Terrible first half from the US. There is no continuity in the final third and they are having trouble building up play from the back end. Klingenberg’s positioning is starting to become really frustrating. She keeps making runs forward and not coming back.

    • htm222

      i knwo our strategy against mexico in the past was to run them down in the second half, but i think this team is showing why it still needs Rapinoe, or some fresh blood.

      • Guest

        Right now I think this is a tactics problem with Klingenberg. When she pushes up as high as the forwards and Heath receives the ball in the LB position there is too much space with too many Mexico players in between to get the ball forward so they switch the play. The other side hasn’t done much better but they have gotten the ball forward. Dunn and Krieger just aren’t as good passers as the opposing flanks so when they break through the initial defense the next pass is usually off the mark. It hasn’t helped at all that Lloyd, who is playing as a connector, keeps turning over the ball when they get it to her. Morgan has gotten zero chance at goal so far.

        • Guest

          Too many giveaways from Johnston too.

          • Steglitz49

            Do we know the attendance (tickets sold)?

          • kernel_thai

            I tried for a long time to think of a US player I could say something nice about…but I finally gave up.

          • x

            Solo did fine the two times the ball went near her. And Sauerbrunn had a nice tackle- I think it was Ocampo or Dominguez?- and little else to do.

          • kernel_thai

            Yeah but she misplayed a ball and got herself in a foot race with an attacker which she almost never does. The whole team was out of sync.

          • x

            Fair enough.

          • Guest

            Everyone was bad(except perhaps Solo and Brunn). There were a few that were especially awful. I thought Press was interfered with on the shot attempt from Heath’s cross but other than that there were very few good chances on goal. Press also had a good attempt that hit the post along with Horan. Just a terrible games that should be forgotten about. Playing through the middle did not work at all.

          • Ethan

            I thought Pugh was decent, and Press brought some creativity to the game. But yeah, not many positive comments to make. That Brunn-Horan-Morgan throw-in play is looking like it could prove useful at times though. Great defending by Mexico on that play and on Press’ scuffed shot.

          • kernel_thai

            That was pretty but prettier if Morgan doesnt hit the bar. My complaint is once Ive gone to a 3 back chasing the winning goal, Im not sure I want Sauerbrunn standing in corner for a long throw in.

          • Ethan

            Fair point. It’s not that long of a throw though. I’d imagine someone else can take it. I do think Morgan could have done a little better, but that Mexican player made a great defensive play to throw Morgan off. If the shot wasn’t going a little over the bar, it was going to go right into the Mexican player’s outstretched leg.

          • kernel_thai

            Mexico played hard. They were all about hustle and muscle instead of bending the knee.

          • Press finally put some energy into the game when she came on in the 2nd half. I thought for sure she would get a goal.

  • schoup

    2 games 2 poor performances overall. Said before the score against CR hid how poorly they played as a collective. Only 3 or 4 players had good games vs CR and it’s continuing today.

    • Oregon

      Sad when the referee decides the game!!!!!!
      Should have been 0-0.

      Good defense, Mexico.

      • kernel_thai

        Awful way to lose but this is sometimes the price of playing for a tie.

        • Ethan

          Plus I don’t think the ref made the wrong decision. That was completely the right decision in my eyes based on the rule book.

          I support a team that has played like Mexico did today on many, many occasions and has gotten very, very good results off of such defensive plays. So, I understand people applauding Mexico’s efforts. However, they didn’t threaten at all, and it was pretty clear that they had no intention to attack.

          • Guest

            Chelsea have players who can carve up defenses on the counter. Mexico don’t have those players. The best they could hope for was a goal on a set piece or a penalty. Both unlikely I think many would agree.

          • Ethan

            I understand that, but I feel that the amount of praise Mexico got from the commentators and will get from viewers after this match will be overblown. Chelsea got ripped apart by many, many people for its performances in its 2012 Champions League run to the title. I don’t see that happening with Mexico in this match. I know there’s a quality gap between Chelsea and Mexico, but that Chelsea 2012 team wasn’t that great. Barcelona and Bayern should have run them off the pitch, but they didn’t.

          • kernel_thai

            It’s just a bad rule that needs to go. I can see a hand ball in the box being a PK if it deliberate or on a SOG but it’s pretty harsh to lose a match on a ball Morgan was settling off her chest.

          • Ethan

            Alright. Let’s have people solely complain about the rule then. People shouldn’t be complaining about the ref (using the words “bad call”) on that particular play; she was spot on there. Less spot on on other plays.

          • kernel_thai

            Well I didnt complain about it because, too be honest, I couldnt even tell on the replay if she touched it or not so I certainly wouldnt expect the ref to do better in real time. I was a little upset that Morgan got elbowed in the back of the head…that Horan got shoved three feet on a header and the call went against her, and the like. They would have done as well calling their own fouls.

  • x

    No more Hinkle, please. Doesn’t play 10 minutes but commits a foul and gives up Mexico’s only shot.

    • kernel_thai

      And if nothing bad happens to her she gonna be on the Olympic roster because she is left footed and so Ellis can go to a three back and move back to four defenders.

      • x

        Please no, please no, please no. Much rather have O’Hara subbing in at outside back.

    • F0OtballNowAndAlways

      Remember she must be tearing it up in training, hence her perplexing minutes. Unlike Colaprico who must stink so bad in training she can’t even get 1 minute in a match.

      • kernel_thai

        It’s Chalupny 2.0…coach decided she needed a south paw on the bench to face a lefty in a big spot. Difference was Chalupny was at least an experienced vet.

      • Guest

        They play completely different positions. The main reason Hinkle has seen any time is due to the lack of depth at LB. Hinkle made some rather good crosses in games as well. Colaprico is at least behind Horan and Brian who play 90 min every game. The next player on the depth chart is Mewis who has also seen very few minutes so far. KO has not seen a single minute in this tournament either.

  • sweetjazz3

    TIME TO PANIC!!!

    THE SKY IS FALLING!!!

    FIRE ELLIS!!!!

    US WOMEN’S SOCCER HAS DIED TODAY!!!

    • kernel_thai

      Well I have “fire Ellis” monogrammed on my linen but thanks for the inspiration : )