Lavelle, Morgan lead United States women past Trinidad and Tobago

Rex Christensen
October 11, 2018

The U.S. women's national team is one win away from qualifying for the 2019 World Cup after securing Group A on Wednesday in the CONCACAF Women's Championship. The losers of both semifinals will drop to the third-place game, where the victor will also go to the World Cup and the loser will head to an intercontinental playoff against Argentina for a final berth in next summer's showcase. The United States figured out how to find the back of the net from that point forward, scoring three goals in a matter of two minutes.

Coach Jill Ellis started the same lineup she put out against Mexico in the opening game of the tournament October 4 after making nine changes to the lineup in the second match against Panama. Provided the USA takes care of business in the semifinals-or in the even of disaster the third-place game-and qualifies for the World Cup, it could well be the lineup she uses on the first day of group play in France. "This was a good way to finish our group stage".

The U.S. will now shift its focus to the next stage of the tournament with the semifinals scheduled for October 14 in Texas, while the finals are slated for October 17 as the Americans come one step closer to punching a ticket to the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.

It was a year ago to the day that a us national team faced Trinidad & Tobago in a World Cup qualifier it was expected to win, instead suffering a humiliating and humbling defeat for the ages.

There is little doubt that with less than a year to go until the World Cup kicks off, the U.S.is the favorite to repeat as world champion.

They did not allow a shot in the first half of any of their three games in group play.

"Every game we've looked to just build on the last and the awesome thing is we know we still haven't reached our full potential", Lavelle said. "We just want to build on this and play even better than we did this game".

With steady rain falling, Lavelle scored on a left-footed blast from outside the penalty area in the 41st minute to give the USA a 2-0 lead.

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US lineup: Naeher; O'Hara (Pugh 71st), Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper, Dunn; Lavelle (Lloyd 46th), Ertz, Horan; Heath, Morgan (Mewis 61st), Rapinoe.

Morgan followed up with another goal less than a minute later (marking her 14th tally in 2018), while Tobin Heath scored her second of the tournament in the 58th minute.

"I've said so many times, steel sharpens steel and we've got to make sure our opponents within our region are strong so that we're challenged out on the pitch", Ellis said, after calling for more investment into the women's game in Concacaf.

Morgan had her second multi-goal game in a week and the 25th in her worldwide career. Ellis started the same lineup on Wednesday that started the tournament opener last Thursday against Mexico, and that group has the makings of the first-choice XI for now.

The Americans, FIFA's top-ranked team, will face the Group B runner-up (probably Costa Rica or Jamaica) in a semifinal Sunday in Frisco, Tex.

After a 6-0 win over Mexico and 5-0 win over Panama, the 7-0 triumph capped a flawless three-match run that featured 18 goals scored, none conceded and, perhaps most importantly, no injuries.

The winners of Sunday's two semifinal matches and the third-place match on October 17 will qualify for the World Cup in France.

With the breezy victory over T&T (0-3-0), the Americans extended their unbeaten streak to 24 matches (21-0-3), dating from summer 2017. The fourth-place finisher will take on Argentina in a two-game playoff for a berth in the tournament.

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