[OLYMPIC WOMEN'S QUALIFYING] The USA beat Costa Rica, 3-0, in their all-important semifinal match at the
Concacaf Olympic Women's Qualifying in Vancouver to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. The American followed that up with a 4-0 win over host
Canada in the championship game of the tournament before a record crowd of 25,427 fans to finish with a 38-0 goal margin in its five wins.
CANADA-USA. Canada had won the the Concacaf qualifying tournament for the 2011 Women's World Cup and was expected to give the USA a stern test in the final, but the Americans put the game away early with a goal by Alex Morgan in the 5th minute, and a pair of goals by Abby Wambach in the first half hour.
"I think we came out really strong and the early goal took the wind out of their sails a bit," said Wambach. "It quieted the crowd down a considerable amount, and then of course the second goal is just the backbreaker for them. It's hard to score one goal against the U.S., let alone two to equalize and three to go ahead."
Making her first start of the tournament, Morgan completed the scoring in the second half.
The USA finished with a 16-3 edge in shots.
Jan. 29 in Vancouver
Canada 0 USA 4. Goals: Morgan 5, 57, Wambach 24, 29.
USA -- Solo, O'Hara, Rampone, Sauerbrunn, Mitts (Buehler, 69), Rapinoe, Lindsey, Lloyd, Rodriguez (Leroux, 63), Morgan, Wambach (Cheney, 46).
Canada -- McLeod, Woeller, Chapman, Scott, Gayle (Wilkinson, 54), Parker, Sesselmann, Schmidt (Moscato, 61), Kyle (Tancredi, 46), Julien, Sinclair.
Referee: Quetzalli Godinez (Mexico).
USA-COSTA RICA. An early goal by Tobin Heath was followed by the first pressure the Americans faced in the tournament.
(Click here for highlights.)
Hope Solo stopped a breakaway by Rachel Rodriguez, and the Ticas almost equalized on a shot by Daniela Cruz from 35 yards off the woodwork.
Despite almost total U.S. possession in the second half, Costa Rica stayed in the game until the last quarter of an hour.
Two late goals by Carli Lloyd and Morgan, whose insertion in the game was too much for the tiring Tica defense, put the game out of reach.
"I always say I respect the game and the opposition and this is the proof," said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. "You can't take anything for granted. We did score a lot of goals, but Costa Rica, they came out and played well, and played hard. Eventually, we got our three goals, but despite that the first goal came quickly, we struggled a little bit. It became an emotional game more so than a tactical one."
The Americans are headed to the Olympics for the fifth straight time. They've won gold in 1996, 2004 and 2008; they finished second to Norway in 2000.
The USA outshot Costa Rica 29-10 in the game and had a 6-1 edge in corners.
Jan. 27 in Vancouver
USA 3 Costa Rica 0. Goals: Heath 16, Lloyd 72, Morgan 88.
USA -- Solo, O'Hara, Rampone, Buehler, LePeilbet, Boxx (Rapinoe, 79), Lloyd, O'Reilly (Rodriguez, 70), Cheney, Heath (Morgan, 62), Wambach.
Costa Rica -- Miranda, Sanchez, Campos, Cruz Mejia, Saenz (Venegas, 87), Rodriguez Cedeno, Rodriguez Zamora, Cruz (Granados, 90), Alvarado, Sanchez Jimenez, Acosta.
Referee: Irazema Aguilera (El Salvador).