U.S., Canada renew women’s soccer rivalry with Olympic spot at stake

U.S. women's soccer team
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MONTERREY, Mexico — The U.S. women’s soccer team plays Canada in the final of the CONCACAF W Championship for a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The U.S. beat Costa Rica 3-0 in the semifinals Thursday night on goals from Emily Sonnett, Mallory Pugh and Ashley Sanchez. Canada downed Jamaica 3-0 in the late game to advance to earn the other spot Monday night in the championship.

The U.S. extended its shutout streak in World Cup or Olympic qualifying matches to 32 games.

The four teams had already qualified for the region’s berths at the 2023 Women’s World Cup as the top finishers in the group stage. The winner of the W Championship additionally earns one of the region’s two spots in the Olympics.

The loser of Monday’s game and the winner of the third-place match between Costa Rica and Jamaica will play in September 2023 for the second and last CONCACAF spot in the Olympic field.

At the Tokyo Games, Canada stunned the U.S. 1-0 in the semifinals, beating the U.S. for the first time since 2001 en route to the gold medal. The U.S. played six matches at the Olympics and failed to score in half of them after coming to Japan having scored in 34 of its last 35 matches in Olympic and World Cup tournaments.

The U.S. won the last two World Cups, but the Americans are heading into next summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand with a different look.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski focused on developing young talent since winning bronze in Tokyo, and up-and-coming players including Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh have cracked the starting lineup. Casey Murphy got the starting nod in goal.

A few veterans remain, including Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, who both started on Thursday, and Megan Rapinoe, who came off the bench. Carli Lloyd retired after the Tokyo Games.

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