On Friday it was Amy Rodriguez. On Sunday it was Sydney Leroux. Both scored five goals after entering the match as a halftime substitute, just two days apart.
Like Rodriguez, Leroux had her first within minutes. It took only 12 minutes for Leroux, a Vancouver native, to to score a hat trick in her hometown. By the end of the night she joined Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers, Tiffeny Milbrett, Abby Wambach and now, Amy Rodriguez, as the only U.S. players in history to score five goals in a game.
Oh, yeah, the United States defeated lowly Guatemala 13-0. In American football terms, they missed an extra point on Sunday after defeating the Dominican Republic 14-0 on Friday.
Some claim games like this are good for the growth of smaller women’s soccer nations like Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. I hear that; in fact I’m tempted to agree with it at times. But not after taking this entire picture into account: After eight games of 2012 CONCACAF women’s soccer Olympic qualifying, not one game has featured goals from both teams. The combined score is 51-0 for an average score of over 6-0.
With that, I still believe the gap is wider than we thought – not wider than ever, but wider than we thought. And with that, the qualifying set-up has to be reassessed. The best compromise seems to be adding a phase to allow the likes of Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba and others the chance to play each other more. Haiti and Guatemala fighting to a 1-1 draw is far more productive than the U.S., Mexico or Canada hammering teams even while resting their starters.
In case you are wondering, Mexico also cruised to victory, defeating the Dominican Republic 7-0 while sitting some starters, including captain Maribel Dominguez.
We should, if we are lucky, get an actually competitive game on Tuesday when the United States and Mexico face off for the right to win Group B (a draw will do for the U.S.). Maybe Monday will even produce a good game between Canada and Costa Rica or, less importantly, Cuba and Haiti.
Although it is tough to make too many judgements in games against the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, there are at least a few half-hearted conclusions that can be drawn:
- Amy Rodriguez’s confidence is back, and that is a very good thing for the Americans. Pia Sundhage drops her off into a midfield role and she starts scoring (five on Friday and one emphatic goal on Sunday).
- The Kelley O’Hara at left back experiment went well. She played like an ideal attacking outside back: High, wide and with a purpose. Her actual defending still has to be tested, however.
- Opposite O’Hara was Heather Mitts at right back, who is likely Ali Krieger’s interim replacement. Mitts also looked good going forward, but just like O’Hara was not tested defensively.
- Lori Lindsey scored her first-ever goal for the U.S. in her 25th appearance for the U.S.
- Abby Wambach’s two goals gives her 129 all-time, one more than Germany’s Birgit Prinz and one behind U.S. legend Kristine Lilly. Mia Hamm (158 goals) and Lilly are the only two players with more goals. Canada’s Christine Sinclair is right on pace with Wambach with 125 goals.
- Lauren Cheney’s goal (the third for the U.S., in the 25th minute) was a beautiful chip that she made look incredibly easy.
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