Sophia Smith, pictured against Colombia last month, had two goals by the eighth minute. (© Jon Austria/The Coloradoan / USA TODAY NETWORK)

By Michael Lewis Editor

They separated the American women from the Reggae Girlz on Thursday night.

Sophia Smith scored two quick goals and had a host of other opportunities as the U.S. women’s national team registered a 5-0 victory over Jamaica at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey, Mexico.

Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis and Trinity Rodman also found the net for the winners, who moved closer securing a berth in the 2023 Women’s World Cup in the Concacaf W Championship. The Americans needed Haiti to win or tie against Mexico in the second game of the doubleheader.

“We played a decent game,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski told Paramount+. “It’s still not quite our best and I think that’s what we came came on a mission. We wanted to win and we wanted to win against the best Jamaican team because we’re a little bit not sure if they’re going to rest someone or not. We wanted to play against the best team. We want it to win big against their best team. I’m glad we did what we needed to do in this game.”

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who had one save in the opening half, wasn’t really tested in her 48th international clean sheet.

The worn-down Jamaicans, who pulled off a 1-0 upset over Mexico in its opener on Monday night, did not have another stunning result in their arsenal.

Smith left nothing to chance by connecting twice in the opening eight minutes.

“It was just a good, good energy,” Smith said. “We all really wanted to come out here and get on the front foot early and that’s exactly what we did.”

Both her goals were scored on the right side of the box.

Her first was a nifty little flick from about yards in the fifth minute. Three minutes later, with Jamaican goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer out of the net, Smith sent a shot that barely made it over the line. It appeared there was a possibility that a Reggae Girl had kept the ball out of the net, but VAR confirmed it was a goal.

Smith has seven goals in eight matches this year.

“I think it’s just confidence,” she said. “Obviously, being a young player on this team, it can be a little bit intimidating, but I think I’ve found my confidence. I’ve just felt like I can be myself on the field and that’s just what I’ve been doing and my team has been super supportive of that.”

The USA came close to scoring several more times in the first half. Ashley Hatch and Mallory Pugh had goals nullified in the 11th and 28th minutes, respectively, due to them being offside. Hatch also rammed a shot off the crossbar in the 27th minute.

In 49th minute, Hatch sent a shot from the top right of the penalty area off the left post.

Lavelle increased the Americans’ margin to three goals, putting in a nifty shot from the right side of the box in the 59th minute.

Mewis, a second-half substitute, made it 4-0 with her first international penalty kick in the 83rd minute, a hard shot to the lower right corner as Spencer dove in the opposite direction.

Rodman closed out the scoring in the 86th minute, slotting home Pugh’s right-wing cross from point-blank range for her second international goal.

On the other side of the pitch, the Americans did well in keeping Jamaica’s leading goal-scorer, Bunny Shaw, from handling the ball in many dangerous positions.

Andonovski paired two former Stanford University standouts, Alana Cook and Noami Girma, in the central defense, and they acquitted themselves well.

The Starting XI featured five different players from the side that took the field in the opener vs. Haiti; Naeher for Casey Murphy in goal, Girma and Huerta for Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn on defense, Sanchez for Sullivan in the midfield, and Hatch for Alex Morgan in the attack.

Asked if he learned anything more about his team’s depth, Andonovski replied, “I actually I didn’t find out anything, anything new. I just confirmed what I thought that the we have. Everybody here that is on the roster is capable and able to do good things for this team. When we decided to rest some of our some of our starters, some of the players that played 90 minutes last game, everyone that came in, fulfilled the task tremendously.”

Next up is host Mexico on Monday at 10 p.m. ET.

“They’re a great team,” Smith said. “It’s a rivalry. We need to come out with the same energy if not more, and just do what we have to do.”

If the Americans duplicate their effort from Thursday night, they will be difficult to beat.