Kristie Mewis scored in the 89th minute to secure a 1-0 victory for the United States women's national team over rival Mexico on Monday to close out the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship group stage, but head coach Vlatko Andonovski sees room for improvement.
While the USWNT had already clinched a berth in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup by securing top spot in the group with wins over Haiti and Jamaica, Andonovski hasn't been totally satisfied with the overall level of play through three matches.
"I have to say, if you ask me if we're ready to go in a World Cup and compete in the World Cup tomorrow, we're probably not ready for it," he told reporters. "But are we going to be ready in a year? Absolutely."
The U.S. won all three of its matches in the group stage by a combined score of 9-0.
Monday's game saw some squad rotation with the World Cup berth already secured, but the resistance from Mexico still came as somewhat of a surprise given its losses to Haiti and Jamaica.
"I want to give credit to Mexico," Andonovski said. "I thought they were very motivated. They were fighting. I wouldn't say that they were better than us, but they were definitely making it very hard for us... I was coaching a big part of the game with a smile on my face because, to some degree, we wanted to see that."
The USWNT moves on to face Costa Rica in Thursday's semifinals. Canada will take on Jamaica in the other match of the penultimate round. The tournament winner will qualify directly for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
With a couple of key years on the horizon, Andonovski used an optimistic tone about where the program is heading despite Monday's mundane performance.
"I'm very happy with the progress of the team, the development of the team and the development of the individuals within the team as well," he said. "I think that we're doing a good job and we're moving in the right direction."
A strong showing in the knockout stages en route to a CONCACAF championship would be a tangible sign of that progress.