Now, here’s a rarity from Sunday night, Carli Lloyd is denied a goal. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
CARY, N.C. — Not surprisingly, the United States became the first team to reach the 2018 concacaf Women’s Championship semifinals Sunday night.
The Americans (2-0-0, 6 points) clinched a berth after registering an emphatic 5-0 triumph over Panama in a Group A match at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
They were helped by the fact El Tri secured a 4-1 win past Trinidad & Tobago in the second game of the doubleheader.
Carli Lloyd paced the defending Women’s World Cup champions with her eighth international hat-trick. Samantha Mewis, who plays at the stadium for the National Women’s Soccer League champions North Carolina Courage, and Christen Press also tallied.
The Americans did not miss a beat as head coach Jill Ellis made nine changes from her team’s 6-0 triumph over Mexico Thursday. Only goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and midfielder Julie Ertz were the remaining starters.
Yenith Bailey, Panama’s 17-year-old goalkeeper, put on a showcase, making several fabulous saves as she could only slow down a relentless attack.
Five minutes after the opening whistle, Mewis headed in a Press corner kick to the far post.
Lloyd made it 2-0, heading home another Press corner in the 23rd minute before making several quick moves to free herself before firing home from 15 yards in the 29th minute.
Press herself found the range in the 32nd minute, beating two defenders before rounding Bailey.
Lloyd tallied her third goal in the 48th minute, converting Rose Lavalle’s free kick for a 5-0 advantage and for her 106th international goal.
Second-half substitute Mallory Pugh thought she had a sixth goal for the red, white and blue in the 73rd minute, scoring from seven yards with Bailey on the ground. More than two minutes after the ball hit the back of the net, the referee conferred with the fourth official and took the goal off the scoreboard. There is no Video Assistant Referee at this competition.
El Tr kept its hopes alive of reaching the final four by scoring three times in the second half.
The Mexicans improved to 1-0-1 and three points, but remained behind Panama (1-0-1, 3) in goal differential, minus three to minus two. That will set up a Wednesday clash between the teams for the final semifinal spot from Group A.
Forward Charlyn Corral tallied twice for El Tri and California native Katie Johnson broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 55th minute, nodding home a corner kick for her fifth international goal.
Corral lifted Mexico into the lead in the 33rd minute. Maria Sanchez fired a shot from the left flank that goalkeeper Kimika Forbes saved parrying the ball into the path of an onrushing Corral, who tapped it home
After she was taken down in the box by Bianca Sierra, Jonelle Cato converted an equalizing penalty kick past goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago in the 50th minute.
Five minutes later, Johnson scored before Corral added an insurance tally off a right-wing feed by captain Stephany Mayor in the 62nd minute. Sanchez closed out the scoring with a 70th-minute header.