Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick for the United States women's national team on Tuesday night in Vancouver, Canada, as the U.S beat Mexico 4–0, to finish at the top of Group B in the 2012 CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
The U.S now face Costa Rica in the first of two semifinals on Friday. Victory on Friday will earn the team a place at the Olympic Games in London this summer. Canada and Mexico will contest in the other semifinal, with the final being played on Sunday.
The U.S dominated the whole game and were two goals up within 10 minutes.
The first goal come after seven minutes from a corner, with Lloyd being the quickest to follow up the rebound from Buehler’s shot against the bar.
One minute later, Rodriguez broke down the wing and swung in a first-time cross, Santiago, the Mexican keeper, came for it but missed. The ball took a deflection off a defender into the path of O’Reilly who blasted the ball into the roof of the net from about 10 yards. The game as a contest was pretty much over from this point on.
Mexico could not get anything going the whole game and while they had almost equal possession, the ball into the final third of the field was never there.
Mexico were reduced to taking pot shots from distance and only ever troubled Hope Solo once, when the substitute Noyola blazed a shot just over the bar from about 30 yards in the second half.
Solo’s biggest concern of the night seemed to be her right leg when she pulled up a bit gimpy after a long kick up field. She didn’t have a save to make all night, though, as her back line was solid once again. The U.S has not conceded a goal yet in this tournament after three matches played.
The U.S started the game playing a 4-2-3-1 formation and looked like scoring every time they pressed forward.
O’Reilly on the wing constantly found acres of space and her speed and energy gave the Mexican back four problems all night.
With Sauerbrunn and LePelibet also able to push forward on the flanks almost at will, Garciamendez and Garcia Mendez were forced into making a number of last ditch tackles at the back for Mexico. Their fire fighting work in defense kept the score down to a respectable 2–0 up until the halftime break.
At the start of the second half, the U.S swapped Leroux for Rodriguez and reverted to the more solid 4-4-2 formation. There was to be no repeat of the five-goal, second half haul for Leroux, though, as Mexico managed to deny her the space she had found against Guatemala in the previous match.
The U.S midfield harassed and flustered Mexico all night and snubbed out the threat of Dominguez and Ocampo to the point where they almost seemed like bystanders.
The third U.S goal always looked like it was coming and when O’Reilly won a free kick just outside the box in the 57th minute, Cheney lofted the ball to the back post where Lloyd met it with a firm header for her second.
The fourth goal didn’t come until four minutes from the end when Lloyd completed her hat trick in the 86th minute with a simple tap for a corner worked to the near post and pulled across the face of the goal by Buehler.
The U.S team didn’t even need to bring Alex Morgan on from the bench, such was their complete control.
When the final whistle brought the last group match of the CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament to an end, the U.S had played three, won three, scored 31, conceded zero.
The semifinal matchup against Costa Rica will see the U.S start as favorites to make the final and secure a place in the 12-team tournament at the London Olympics this summer.
In the seven meetings between the two countries, the U.S has never lost and has scored 34 goals compared to Costa Rica’s zero.