One hurdle remains for U.S. WNT U-17’s in World Cup qualifying quest

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With a combined score line of 18-0 from group play, the United States Under-17 Women’s National Team is within striking distance of a World Cup berth. Conventional wisdom might call it a done deal, but recent history suggests otherwise.

Albertin Montoya’s team topped Group B Monday night with a 3-0 win over Mexico. The team could make World Cup qualification official on Thursday with a win against Panama.

Forward Summer Green was on target again, netting all three of the U.S.’s goals. The Michigan native has had a downright goal-scoring bonanza in Guatemala. She collected five goals in the team’s 10-0 tonking of the Bahamas in their first group match (in which the U.S. outshot their opponents 52 to 1). Green’s first-half hat versus Mexico trick ups her total to nine goals in the group stage alone. She’s averaged a goal every 27 minutes.

A victory in the semifinals in two days will see the side secure a place in the 2012 U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan. It would be its first trip to the tournament since 2008. Lest we forget, the U.S. stumbled in the semifinal round of the 2010 CONCACAF Qualifying tournament. Canada edged the favorites in penalty kicks and dashed the team’s World Cup hopes.

Panama should pose less of a threat this time around, as the team reaches the semifinals by dint of a superior goal difference over Group A opponents Jamaica. Even if the stage springs another shock, the U.S. has a safety net to fall back on. Unlike previous years, three teams advance from the CONCACAF region.

You could say the U.S. are as good as in, but that’s what was said last time. Oh, who are we kidding.

Watch Summer Green do what she does below.