US routs Canada to take CONCACAF tournament gold

30 January 2012 08:46

Strikers Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan scored two goals apiece to lead the United States to a 4-0 victory over Canada to win the CONCACAF Women?s Olympic soccer qualifying championship.

Both teams already had punched their tickets to the London Summer Games with wins in Friday?s semifinals at BC Place Stadium, so the only thing that was at stake Sunday was national pride and bragging rights.

The Americans, the top-ranked women's team in the world, made sure they left enemy territory with the latter, at least until the next time these two meet. The Canadians are No. 7 in the FIFA rankings.

"They gave us a hard time," US coach Pia Sundhage said. "We put everything together. We made them look poorly at times. But they created chances.

"It's great to feel the gold."

The US finished the tournament with a 5-0-0 record, outscoring their foes, 38-0.

"The first half, everything they hit hit the back of the net," Canada coach John Herdman said. "That's the difference with the US. When they're hot, they're hot."

Part of the pre-game hype was the much anticipated confrontation between two of the best players and goal-scorers in the world. Both players were tied for third on the women's international scoring list with 129 goals piece. By the time referee Quetzalli Alvarado of Mexico blew the final whistle, Wambach emerged in the No. 2 spot with 131 goals, surpassing former teammate and retired Kristine Lilly (130), with Mia Hamm (158) next in her sights.

Morgan's speed was just too much for Canada to handle during the opening 25 minutes before a capacity crowd of 25,427.

"We have so many options," Sundhage said. "If I look at the bench at the 20 players. There are good players and especially when we play a tournament, our job, is to find the best starting lineup. The combination with Abby and Alex Morgan turned out to be pretty good."

Sundhage said Morgan "brought something special today with Abby. Our air presence and speed up top made us look really good today."

Morgan scored the first goal as she ran onto a flicked header by Wambach, outraced two defenders and beat goalkeeper Erin Katrina McLeod in the fourth minute.

Morgan returned the favour twice within a four-minute span. After bolting down the right side, she set up Wambach on a header in the 24th minute. After recovering a rebound, shuffled a short pass to the veteran striker for a 3-0 lead in the 28th minute.

The 22-year-old closed out the scoring with a fine individual effort in the 56th minute.

US goalkeeper Hope Solo made two key saves on striker Christina Julien in the opening half to stifle any momentum by Canada.

"When Hope comes out and makes that save, she gains confidence. We gain confidence," Sundhage said.

Source: AFP