USWNT Set For Grudge Match With Canada With Olympic Berth On The Line

by Michael Lewis

Emily Sonnett celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the semifinal against Costa Rica as part of the 2022 Concacaf W Championship on July 14, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.


The U.S. women’s soccer team took another step toward qualifying for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 by recording a 3-0 semifinal victory over Costa Rica in the Concacaf W Championship on Thursday night at Estadio Universitario in Monterrey, Mexico. 
The Americans will meet defending Olympic champions Canada — which beat Jamacia 3-0 in the other semifinal — in Monday’s final for the right to play in the Summer Games in two years. The second- and third-place teams will meet for the other confederation berth at a later date. 
All four semifinalists already had qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. 
Emily Sonnett, Mallory Pugh and Ashley Sanchez tallied for the U.S., which remained unbeaten in the competition, compiling a goal difference of 12-0 in four games. 
Goalkeeper Casey Murphy, who had communication problems with some defenders, was credited with the shutout although she was never severely tested in a game played in 93-degree heat. The Central Americans took their first shot in the 64th minute, an attempt that sailed wide left. 
Costa Rica head coach Amelia Valverde decided to rest some key players as she made seven changes in her starting XI. That included sitting standout forward and team captain Raquel Rodríguez. 
The U.S. enjoyed a sizable possession advantage in the opening 20 minutes but could solve the Costa Rican backline. 
Sonnett eventually did, opening the scoring in the 34th minute. It was her first international goal in her 69th career appearance for the U.S. Mallory Pugh, who was an attacking force, especially with her set pieces for most of the match, started the scoring sequence with a corner kick. The ball initially bounced off the left post. During a scramble in front of the net, Sonnett slid the ball home past goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, making her tournament debut, for a U.S. lead.  
Three minutes into first-half stoppage time, Sophia Smith won the ball deep in Costa Rican territory. She sent a quick pass to Pugh, who drilled a shot from the left side for her first goal of the competition and 24th overall internationally.  
Sanchez connected for her third international goal, off an Alex Morgan feed, deep into second-half injury time for the final score.

Michael Lewis, who covers soccer for Newsday, has written about the sport for four decades and has written six books about soccer. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.