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Lavelle goal leads USWNT to CONCACAF Championship

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Rose Lavelle’s early goal was enough for the United States women’s national team to seal its eighth CONCACAF Women’s Championship with a 2-0 win over Canada in Texas on Wednesday.

Alex Morgan scored an offside goal in stoppage time, a deserved marker despite the captain’s transgression. The dominant striker has 17 of her 97 national team goals in 2018.

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Both sides had already clinched berths in this summer’s World Cup in France, while Jamaica earned a spot via a third place match win over Panama earlier Wednesday.

The USWNT is 15W-2D in 2018 and in fine form heading into a World Cup year. The last loss came in the 2017 Tournament of Nations.

The game was vicious, with Tobin Heath the target for a number of hard Canadian fouls and Megan Rapinoe responding on behalf of the Americans.

“Obviously, we hate Canada and they hate us,” Rapinoe said after the game on Fox Soccer. “It was very apparent tonight.”

Lavelle sent a second minute loose ball just past the reach of Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe.

USWNT obliterates Jamaica, qualifies for 2019 World Cup

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The United States needed one more win to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, and they did so in roaring fashion, taking down Jamaica 6-0 in Frisco on Sunday.

Tobin Heath scored a first-half brace, while Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz, and Alex Morgan all got on the scoresheet before the halftime break. It was a rousing success, such that head coach Jill Ellis yanked Rapinoe and Ertz at halftime, while Rose Lavelle came off before the hour mark.

Heath picked up the first less than two minutes into the game. Lindsay Horan collected a failed clearance by the Jamaica defense, and while her shot was saved by Sydney Schneider, Heath was there to pounce on the rebound.

The second was all too easy, capitalizing in the 15th minute on lackadaisical defense. From the back, Ertz picked out Rapinoe on the left, and after chesting down the ball, she ran right by her mark and into the box where she roofed the shot from a tight angle.

Ertz would score herself six minutes later when heading in a cross, while Heath grabbed her second just before the half-hour mark as she got behind the defense and latched onto Horan’s long-ball. With the rout on, Morgan would score two minutes later as Rapinoe swung in a free-kick and while Ertz whiffed, Morgan did not.

The United States cruised through the second half, and when a penalty was give in the 84th minute, Heath didn’t push for the chance for her first international hat-trick, it was Morgan who stepped up and delivered instead. That would complete the scoreline, and send the United States to the 2019 World Cup.

USWNT wins Group A, Mexico eliminated from World Cup qualifying

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The United States women’s national team is one win away from clinching a spot in next summer’s World Cup, and it will have two chances to do it.

The Yanks pounded Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 on Wednesday to win Group A of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in dominant fashion.

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Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle each scored twice in the win, which sends the USWNT to Sunday’s semifinals.

Earlier, Panama stunned Mexico with goals in each half of a 2-0 win that eliminated Mexico from qualification for the World Cup.

Mexico had qualified for the last two World Cups and was one of three automatic qualifiers to the CONCACAF tournament.

Now Panama will meet the winner of Group B, while the USWNT will face the second place team in Group B.

The semifinal winners qualify for the World Cup, while the losers play a winner-take-all third place game for the third CONCACAF spot in France.

Morgan’s hat trick leads USWNT to 4-2 win over Japan (video)

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Morgan capped a seemingly effortless hat trick by converting off a dazzling piece of footwork by Tobin Heath, and the U.S. rolled to a 4-2 victory over Japan on Thursday night in its opening match of the four-team Tournament of Nations. Megan Rapinoe also had a goal and an assist for the world’s top-ranked team, which hasn’t lost since the Americans dropped their opening match of the same tournament to Australia last year.

The rematch of those powerhouses is Sunday in East Hartford, Connecticut, after the Matildas opened the defense of their Tournament of Nations title with a 3-1 victory over Brazil on Thursday.

Morgan scored her first goal in the 18th minute when she flicked a pass from Rapinoe past Japanese goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita. And her second came a scant eight minutes later, when Emily Sonnett gathered a cross from Crystal Dunn and popped it ahead to Morgan, who headed in the goal.

The hat trick was complete after Heath, who had just entered as a substitute, made two Japanese defenders look foolish along the end line. She then swung a centering pass that was deflected to Morgan, who deposited it for her first three-goal game since Olympic qualifying in February 2016.

Rapinoe added her goal — and a bizarre, foot-stomping celebration afterward — in the 66th minute as the U.S. team ramped up the offense just as it begins ramping up for World Cup qualifying.

They can secure their spot next year in France during the CONCACAF tournament in October.

The performance by coach Jill Ellis’s squad Thursday night wasn’t entirely without fault, though.

After scoring the opener on Morgan’s quick-twitch flick, the U.S. defense quickly broke down, and Mini Tanaka beat defender Abby Dahlkemper and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for a matching goal.

Then, midway through the second half, Japan’s Moeno Sakaguchi made a nifty move against Heath before sending a curling shot into the upper corner of the net to trim a three-goal deficit to two.

It was nonetheless a solid performance by the Americans in what has become a competitive rivalry with Japan. The teams split matches in the past two World Cup finals, and the U.S. beat Asia’s top team in the gold medal match at the 2012 London Olympics.

Earlier Thursday, defending champ Australia built on an own-goal by Poliana and another mistake by the Brazilian defender in cruising to a 3-1 victory to open the tournament at Children’s Mercy Park.

Tameka Butt added a goal and an assist for the Matildas. Marta scored a late goal for Brazil.

USWNT squad announced for exhibitions against China

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CHICAGO (AP) Midfielder Tobin Heath is back on the U.S. women’s national team roster after spending the start of the year recovering from surgery.

Coach Jill Ellis named a 23-player roster Tuesday for a pair of exhibition matches against China next month.

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Heath, who turned 30 on Tuesday, hasn’t played with the national team since appearing as a substitute in a friendly against New Zealand last September. She had surgery to remove bone growth on her right ankle in early January.

Also returning to the national team is Julie Ertz, who missed a pair of April exhibition matches against Mexico because of a knee injury.

Christen Press, left off the roster for Mexico because she was not on a club team at the time, also returned to the roster.

Press, who was traded to the Houston Dash in the offseason but never joined the National Women’s Soccer League club, is currently playing in Sweden with Goteborg.