February 21, 2016
SHOWING WHO'S THE BOSS AGAIN
USA women capture CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying crown for the 4th time
By Michael Lewis
HOUSTON, Texas – The United States women won yet another CONCACAF competition Sunday.
And the sun also rises.
Midfielders Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath scored goals within an eight-minute span in the second half to boost the USA to a 2-0 victory over Canada and to its fourth consecutive CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship title at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Both teams already had qualified for the Rio Olympics with wins in their semifinal matches Friday.
The Americans, three-time defending Olympic gold medalists and reigning FIFA Women's World Cup champions, dominated, leaving the Canadians with only a handful of opportunities. The USA (18-0-1) has never lost in this competition, outscoring its foes, 98-4.
Horan broke a scoreless tie in the 53rd minute. After a Canadian defender cleared the ball out of the area, USA center back Becky Sauerbrunn latched onto it about 40 yards out on the right side. She floated the ball into the box that Horan got to a split second before goalkeeper Janine Beckie did and headed the ball home from eight yards for her second international goal.
The Americans doubled their advantage in the 61st minute when 17-year-old midfielder Mallory Pugh dribbled into the area on the left side and found Tobin Heath on the opposite flank. Heath drilled a 12-yard shot into the upper right corner for her 14th international score.
USA goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was rarely tested, made a diving save on Melissa Tancredi in the 71st minute. As it turns out, Tancredi was the last player to solve the Americans' defense in qualifying as she tallied in the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Championship final. Since then, the USA has recorded 10 consecutive shutouts, extending its qualifying scoreless streak to 903 minutes.
Canada coach John Herdman gave some of his regulars a rest as striker Christine Sinclair and 16-year-old sensation and forward Deanne Rose, goalkeeper Erin McLeod and midfielders Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt. U.S. coach Jill Ellis, on the other hand, deployed the same Starting XI as in the 5-0 semifinal win over Trinidad & Tobago Friday.
Sinclair, who is second on the all-time international goal-scoring list (161), came on for Nichelle Prince in the 62nd minute.
The Americans dominated the opening half, but had nothing to show for their efforts.
In the first real opportunity of the match, Carli Lloyd almost finished a nice buildup by the USA as her header off Meghan Klingenberg's left-wing cross bounced wide left of its intended target in the 14th minute.
Barely a minute later, center back Julie Johnston, while racing for the ball along with forward Melissa Tancredi was pushed down in the USA penalty area by the Canadian. Johnston wound up on the ground for about a minute before she got up and resumed playing.
The Americans used some head's up play in trying to solve the Canadian defense as Lloyd powered a header wide right in the 22nd minute as did Horan did wide left two minutes later.