PHILADELPHIA — History did not repeat on Friday, as the United States women’s national team defeated Mexico 3-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship to qualify for the 2015 World Cup. Carli Lloyd scored twice early and Christen Press added the third goal in the second half.
Four years ago the No. 1-ranked Americans lost to Mexico in the World Cup qualifying tournament semifinals. The U.S. had to beat Italy in a playoff to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.
But the Americans entered Friday’s rematch with vivid memories of that nightmarish night, and they didn’t give Mexico even a sniff at goal, dominating from start to finish on a Friday evening at PPL Park. The U.S. will play Costa Rica in the tournament final on Sunday. Costa Rica qualified for its first-ever Women’s World Cup earlier in the night with a penalty-kick victory over Trinidad and Tobago.
Mexico will play T&T in Sunday’s third-place match. The winner of that will qualify for the World Cup.
The U.S. women have now won 91 straight games on home soil, dating back to November 2004. They improved to 30-1-1 all-time against Mexico, with the lone loss coming in that 2010 qualifying match.
Lloyd opened the scoring on Friday in the 6th minute on a routine header from six yards out, then slotted home a penalty kick in the 30th minute.
Press scored in the 56th minute, calmly tapping the ball around Mexico goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar and into the net. Sydney Leroux played the ball into Press, splitting three defenders. Leroux hit the woodwork twice on Friday, including in the 49th minute when she hit the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
“It’s exciting, although we’re not completely done yet,” U.S. defender and captain Christie Rampone said. “Although we’re in the World Cup, we want to make sure we finish this tournament off right and focus on the next game. But it’s exciting that we’re in and we can start the process now of getting better and getting to the World Cup.”
Friday was Rampone’s 300th appearance for the United States, joining former teammate Kristine Lilly as the only players — male or female — to play in at 300 games for her country.
Mexico registered only one shot to the United States’ 20 shots, and Mexico coach Leo Cuellar said his team’s timing was off defensively. But he also conceded his opponent on the night was and is a far superior team.
“They are awesome,” he said candidly. “They’re outstanding. It’s a very attractive style.” He continued: “They can put two teams (into the World Cup) and finish top four, top five.”
The U.S. has been to every World Cup since the women first played one in 1991, winning that inaugural event and the 1999 tournament on home soil. The Americans have been ranked No. 1 in the world for six years running.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis now has two days to prepare for Costa Rica, a team the U.S. hasn’t played since 2012. Costa Rica has improved significantly since then, maintaining a perfect record thus far in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. The Ticas have been the surprise of the competition — even to themselves, coach Garabet Avedissian said on Thursday — and their free-flowing style is similar to that of the United States’ system, something that caught Ellis’ eye.
“I’ve caught pieces of games and I’ve been very impressed,” Ellis said. “I think they’re a team that likes to move the ball around. They’re a team that has some very good players and I like how they play, I like how they combine.” Committed to style of play.”
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