USWNT Qualifies For 2023 World Cup With Win Over Jamaica

by Luke Hanlon

 Ashley Hatch competes in a match against Jamaica during the 2022 Concacaf W Championship on July 7, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico. 


The back-to-back World Cup champions will now officially be defending their title in 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.  
The U.S. women’s soccer team defeated Jamaica 5-0 on Thursday night, which secured a spot in the semifinals of the Concacaf W Championship. More importantly, in reaching the final four the U.S. officially qualifies for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.  
The U.S. didn’t waste much time in opening the scoring. Sophia Smith scored a wonder goal in the fifth minute to put her side up 1-0. Naomi Girma played a long ball down the right flank to Smith, and after Smith’s first touch, she flicked it above a Jamaican defender’s head and then hit a half volley with the outside of her right foot that found the left side of the net.   
As if that wasn’t enough, Smith scored her second goal of the game three minutes later. This time Sofia Huerta played a long through ball over the top of the Jamaican backline that Smith was able to chip over the goalkeeper. It looked like the ball was cleared off the goal line, but goal-line technology showed it just snuck in for a three-minute brace for Smith. 
These were the first two goals Smith has scored for the national team in a competitive match. She had previously scored six goals, all coming in friendlies. That includes two goals she scored in a six-minute span against Colombia on June 26.  
Rose Lavelle added the third U.S. goal in the 59th minute, converting from a tight angle after an Ashley Sanchez cross found Lavelle alone on the right side of the penalty box.  
The Americans extended their lead twice in the final 10 minutes. In the 83rd minute, Kristie Mewis scored from the penalty spot after halftime sub Midge Purce was fouled in the box. Trinity Rodman, another second-half sub, scored her first goal in a competitive international match when she slotted home Mallory Pugh’s first-time cross from the edge of the box.  
Alyssa Naeher picked up the clean sheet in net after Casey Murphy secured one in the team’s opening win against Haiti on Monday. Tonight’s win gives the U.S. 31 shutouts in the 35 World Cup qualifiers it has played.  
The Americans have now qualified for all nine Women’s World Cups, dating back to the first one in 1991. Japan and Sweden are the only other two countries that have also accomplished that, but Brazil, Germany, Nigeria and Norway could all join that list if they qualify for the 2023 tournament.  
The U.S. still has a chance to earn a spot in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 if it wins the Concacaf W Championship. It will finish play in Group A against Mexico on Monday, July 11. 

Luke Hanlon is a sportswriter and editor based in Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.