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USWNT qualifies for Olympics with 5-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago

Alex Morgan grabbed a hat trick as the team cruised to a qualifying spot.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Starting XI: Hope Solo; Kelley O'Hara, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg; Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd (c), Mallory Pugh; Alex Morgan

The United States faced CONCACAF Group B second-place finisher Trinidad & Tobago as their final hurdle in qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Considering they went into this game 9-0-0 against Trinidad & Tobago, there wasn't much doubt who would be victorious, though T&T did hold the US to a 1-0 win in 2015 World Cup qualifying.

Not so tonight, as the United States kept T&T penned into their own half for the greater part of 90 minutes. But for some off finishing and some big blocks by T&T GK Kimika Forbes, the US easily could have gone into the second half up by five or six, instead of the three they did score.

Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd all scored for the United States in the firsth alf. Heath scored first in the 12', sneaking into the box unnoticed by T&T defenders. Mal Pugh centered a ball meant for Carli Lloyd, but Heath found it instead.

Morgan scored in the 30' when Kelley O'Hara served a good ball into the box and Lindsey Horan nodded it down in front of goal, something that Horan has proven adept at providing for her teammates. Morgan finished it with a nice tap-in.

Lloyd scored off a header in the 43', running in on a corner kick and knocking the ball down for a bullet that slipped through Forbes' legs.

The second half eventually saw all three subs used with Pugh and Horan out in the 59, and Christen Press and Sam Mewis in. Press was asked to stay a bit behind Morgan, though as has been the case throughout this tournament with the US, she had some freedom to drift around. Crystal Dunn came on in the 66' for Lloyd and moved up top with Morgan.

Morgan bagged goals number two and three on the night in the 71' and 73' to complete her hat trick. Goal number two was a bit messy as Mewis headed down a ball in the box and Morgan cleaned up her own rebound off a defender. And to round things out, Brian served a ball into the box that Morgan finished one time into the back of the net.

As the US continues to examine its younger players, a few have clearly stood out. Mallory Pugh tops the list, demonstrating good vision and awareness, as well as a deceptive strength in running the flanks and holding off defenders. Pugh has improved noticeably since her first cap; she had a few early nervy moments, but is coming up to speed remarkably fast and is now a reliable source of service when she isn't making smart runs herself.

Another interesting development is the use of Lindsey Horan and Morgan Brian as deep-lying midfielders, with the responsibility primarily on Horan to patrol in front of the back four and start the attack. Horan also has good vision and can find the seams in defenses, as well as push up to contribute to the attack. As she and Brian find the balance between them, they could help form a nice spine for the US in support of Carli Lloyd and the forwards.

Players who have gotten some time in this tournament and deserve to get more are Kelley O'Hara, Christen Press, and Crystal Dunn. O'Hara especially should be released from the bench more often and against T&T was a decent source of width. Unfortunately, in a starting back four that seems to favor Ali Krieger and Meghan Klingenberg, O'Hara may find herself in the role of sub/utility player come the Olympics.

Meghan Klingenberg and Tobin Heath were question marks in this game. Despite scoring a goal, Heath also put on her usual display of losing possession in a swarm of opposing jerseys. She's no longer the promising wunderkind who could one day realize her potential; at 27 she should be a seasoned midfielder who can more reliably help navigate the right side. And as for Klingenberg, she went mostly where she seemed to feel like going, getting so far up and inside at times that she was essentially another forward.

Of course, it was CONCACAF qualifying, and all the players had a little room to maneuver more freely than usual. Klingenberg's roaming never really came back to bite the US in the ass and against a tougher opponent like Canada, she may very well be more cautious about staying at home. We'll see.

The United States will now play Canada in a tournament final that simply determines the overall winner; both teams are now qualified for the Olympics (Canada beat Costa Rica 3-1 earlier in the day) and can use this opportunity to really test each other without much at stake. That game should be streaming NBC Live Extra on Sunday, February 21 at 5 PM ET and airing on a tape delay on NBCSN at 10 PM ET.