Starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath
What is there really to say about a scoreline like this? Well, there’s a little bit, when we focus in on several key US players. But first, some context:
Wonder why T&T, #USWNT's final group opponent, has collapsed? On day Soca Princesses were supposed to leave for North Carolina, they still didn't have a coach, plane tickets and hadn't been paid for last two months. https://t.co/0Lv2loRtHO— Paul Kennedy (@pkedit) October 10, 2018
It’s important to keep this stuff in mind when we see silly scorelines. But the United States went out there and just played the game, which is all they can do for those 90 minutes.
The first half was fairly interesting for its lack of scoring for a substantial chunk of time. The US opened it up early, with Alex Morgan scoring in the 9’ off a cross in from Tobin Heath. But then despite fairly fluid movement and a lot of smart runs into the box, the US just couldn’t score. Morgan hit the woodwork three separate times, and Crystal Dunn pinged one off the post too. The US had pretty much all of T&T’s field players pinned back not just in their half, but into their defensive third, with Becky Sauerbrunn often making appearances at the top of the 18. But between the off-target finishing, steady rainfall that started mid-half, and a lot of mishit final balls in, it took until the 41’ for them to score again.
With so many T&T players crowding the box, Tobin Heath managed to pop the ball out of a scrum to Rose Lavelle, who hit it from about 25 yards out with just enough swerve to fly past the goalkeeper.
Rosie the Rocketeer! pic.twitter.com/gguxhvx8lh— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) October 11, 2018
Then it was Lavelle again two minutes later, pouncing on a loose ball in the box and burying it. Then it was Dunn another two minutes later, with her own long range effort, this time calibrated properly on target, and the half ended at 4-0.
The United States started the second half with a sub, Carli Lloyd coming on for Rose Lavelle. Lloyd once again pushed high, acting as a second central striker in the box. But it was Horan who struck first in the half, taking the shot from range with a little bit of curl to make it 5-0. Alex Morgan scored literally a minute later, cleaning up a blocked shot from Heath and dinking it in off the inside of the post. Then it was Heath’s turn in the 58’, tapping in a low cross from Rapinoe with a defender trailing her all the way.
The second US sub was in the 61’, Alex Morgan coming off for Sam Mewis, leaving the US with three in the front again and Mewis circulating in front of Ertz. The game slowed down a bit at this point and T&T even tried a few stabs at getting out of their half, but the US recovered each time and pressed them back in, packing the T&T 18-yard box, spurring more long-range shots trying to bypass the scrum.
The last US sub was in the 70’ with O’Hara off for Mal Pugh. Pugh went right forward and Heath dropped to right back, although with everyone pushed so high it really didn’t matter that much. Horan had some nice play, moving well around the box and using Rapinoe and Lloyd as passing partners to put herself into space with the ball at her feet. Rapinoe continued to drop balls into the box when she saw someone poised to run onto it. Other than that, they finished the game out without too much fuss.
The main talking point of this game really has to be the utter lack of support for Trinidad & Tobago’s WNT from their federation. T&T seems to have regressed from their last qualifying attempt back in 2014, when they at least put up more of a fight than they did tonight. There needs to be much tighter FIFA oversight to ensure that any funds for the women’s game are actually used for the women, if not a flat-out directive that a certain percentage of funds must be spent on the WNT. Possibly there could be help from other WNTs in Concacaf, if not financial, then at least functional, like USSF sending the team coaching cousre materials.
As for the US, there’s not much to learn from a game like this, if anything at all. Lavelle looked good with that silky first touch and Rapinoe is as crafty as ever, creating opportunity after opportunity. Passing was pretty good too until the rain started, and then the team had to adjust to the slippery conditions. But when your opponent pretty much turtles up around their 18 and offers no counterattacking, it kind of just becomes a training exercise, and not a very good one at that when your opponent clearly can’t keep up with you.
So yes, the United States won, no one got injured, and now they advance to the semifinals, the results of which will determine if they secure a World Cup berth since Concacaf has three slots. We’ll find out who they play when Group B concludes tomorrow.
Semifinals will take place on Sunday, October 14 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.