US into semifinals with 13-0 rout of Guatemala
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Abby Wambach scored twice in the first half to move into third on the career goals list for women's international soccer, and the United States beat Guatemala 13-0 on Sunday to clinch a berth in the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the London Olympics.
A left-foot tap in the 12th minute and a header in the 14th gave Wambach 129 career goals for the U.S. team, moving her past Germany's Birgit Prinz (128) and behind only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130). The only active player in Wambach's range is Canada's Christine Sinclair with 125 — including five in this tournament.
The 31-year-old striker's exploits — along with those of newcomer Sydney Leroux — added some meaning to another suspense-free rout for the Americans, who have outscored their opponents 27-0 over two games as they attempt to earn one of two berths available for the Summer Games.
Leroux, earning only her second international cap, scored five goals as Wambach's halftime substitute — tying the U.S. record for most in a game. The record is shared by Wambach, Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers, Tiffeny Milbrett and Amy Rodriguez.
The size of the Americans' victories — including the record-setting 14-0 win over the Dominican Republic on Friday — has hardly looked sportsmanlike, but the team is wary about any and all qualifying matches after stumbling against Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in late 2010. That loss forced the U.S., the top-ranked team in the world, into a playoff just to get into the World Cup in Germany, and coach Pia Sundhage and her players have made their theme to take nothing for granted this time around.
The wins have provided the Americans a comfortable goal-differential cushion that will allow them to win their group even if they tie their final group game, a much-anticipated rematch against Mexico on Tuesday. The Mexicans have outscored their opponents 12-0 after two games, including a 7-0 win over the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
Sunday's games capped four days of noncompetitive soccer, with the top four teams at the tournament outscoring the bottom four by a combined score of 51-0. Now come the matchups that truly matter: Canada-Costa Rica on Monday, followed by U.S.-Mexico the next day to determine the winners of the respective groups — and the matchups for the do-or-die semifinals that will produce the two teams headed to London.
Looking to rest some of her top players for the upcoming games, Sundhage made six changes to the starting lineup from the win over the Dominican Republic. One of the changes, of course, involved defender Ali Krieger, who injured her right knee against the Dominicans and is likely out for the Olympics. Heather Mitts started in Krieger's familiar spot at right back, and U.S. fans who made the trip across the border chanted "Al-ee Kree-ger" before kickoff.
Wambach's goals looked effortless against an overmatched Guatemalan team that routinely left players unmarked in the box.
Wambach was denied a hat trick when she clanged a shot off the crossbar in the 40th minute. When the ball caromed right back to her, she launched a header that was saved by Lemus off the post.
Leroux, a native of Canada who has an American father, returned to her former country to score in the 48th, 51st, 57th, 70th and 87th minutes. Leroux is the only member of the roster who didn't play for the U.S. in last year's World Cup.
Lori Lindsey also scored her first U.S. goal with a header in the 34th minute. Also in on the scoring were Cheney (24th), Rodriguez (29th), Carli Lloyd (33rd), Rapinoe (75th) and Alex Morgan (83rd).
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP