Friday, January 27, 2012
Morgan completes London run
By Scott French
Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan wrapped up another Olympic trek for the U.S. women's national team, scoring a fine late goal Friday evening to complete a 3-0 triumph over Costa Rica that clinched a berth this summer in London.
Morgan (Diamond Bar HS), 22, netted her second goal of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament (to go with four assists) and 12th of her international career as the Yanks advanced to Sunday's meaningless final against host Canada.
The Canadians nabbed the region's second spot in the London Games, romping o a 3-1 victory over Mexico in the second semifinal at BC Place in Vancouver.
Tobin Heath gave the U.S. a 17th-minute lead, a point-blank header after Ticos goalkeeper Erika Miranda's reaction save on an Abby Wambach header from former UCLA All-American Lauren Cheney's corner kick.
Carli Lloyd scored her sixth goal of the tournament in the 72nd minute, hammering home a ball cleared off the line as the Yanks, issued their first real challenge of the eight-nation tournament, pulled away in the closing minutes.
“I always say I respect the game and the opposition and this is the proof,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage told media. “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 U.S. lost to Mexico in last year's CONCACAF semifinals in the Women's World Cup qualifying tournament and required a two-leg playoff victory over Italy to join a field. They had no such fallback this time -- the semifinal losers are out.
Morgan's goal, in the 89th, was the best. The speedy forward raced past two defenders to the byline, then cut inside and chipped the ball past Miranda and into the net.
The U.S. has qualified for all five Olympic women's soccer competitions, winning gold medals at Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and silver at Sydney 2000.
The U.S. and Canada will join host Great Britain, 2011 Women's World Cup champion Japan, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, France, North Korea, South Africa, Sweden and the Oceania champion -- New Zealand the overwhelming favorite -- in the 12-team field.
Christine Sinclair, who has been based primarily in the U.S. the past decade, scored her 128th and 129th international goals for Canada, pulling even with Wambach on the all-time list, behind only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130). Melissa Tancredi also tallied.