After dominating three matches in the group stage of Olympic qualifying tournament, the USWNT is one win away for qualifying for Tokyo 2020! They will play for that spot Friday night at 10:00 pm, who they will face is still up in the air.
Recapping Group A Play:
The USWNT opened action in this qualifying group a week ago, they beat Haiti 4-0. While this looks like a comfortable result, this was a testing match for the USA. They took an early lead after Christen Press scored in the second minute. Then Haiti battled and kept the US from getting another goal. Haiti was bending breaking, that is until late in the second half. The USA scored three more goals and put the match out of reach.
In their second match, the USWNT took on Panama. Panama was determined to play a high backline, this was meant to draw the USA attackers offside when they tried to get behind. Unfortunately for Panama, this did not work well at all. The US scored four goals in each half and midfield powerhouse Lindsey Horan scored a hattrick and assisted on two other goals!
The final match of the group would determine who would top the group, even though both USA and Costa Rica had already mathematically made it to the semifinals of the tournament. The USWNT showed that this match mattered, and Costa Rica did not. Costa Rica rested some of their key players for the upcoming semifinal match, while the US solidified the top spot in the group by scoring three goals in each half. Sam Mewis and Christen Press each had two goals and an assist.
Since the USWNT won their group they will play the second-place team from group B which will either be Mexico or Canada.
USA will take on either Mexico or Canada in decisive match:
The USA now travels to Los Angeles where the semifinals and final matches will be played this coming weekend. Their opponent for the semifinals is still to be determined.
Canada and Mexico are the teams from Group B who will be in the semifinals, but they still have to play each other in Group B Play. That match is tonight and it should be an intense one. The winner will take on Costa Rica, while the loser will have to face the USWNT.
Mexico is the underdog who has made it past Jamaica to claim one of the two semifinal spots, while Canada has looked like the favorite in the group as that they were projected to be. Can Mexico pul off a shock upset to avoid the USA in the semifinals, or will Canada, and all-time international leading goal scorer Christine Sinclair, win the group?
Semifinal match will determine who makes the Olympics and who goes home:
While the 2020 USWNT campaign is still young, this upcoming match has the potential to be the biggest of the year for them. A win puts them in the Olympics, a loss means they do not qualify. While the USA is the reigning World Cup champions, and ranked number one in the world, this match still has a lot riding on it.
The USWNT will know the pressure is there but should be able to what they need to do to secure a spot in Tokyo 2020. This team seems unfazed in the face of adversity, and no matter who they play on Friday night, they should do what this team is known to do, win!
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Mandatory Credit: USSoccer.com