The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by beating Canada 1-0 in the CONCACAF W Championship final, reversing the score from the Tokyo Olympic semifinal stunner.
Alex Morgan netted her 118th national team goal on a penalty kick in the 78th minute, reprising her match-winning-scorer role from the teams’ 2012 Olympic semifinal epic.
The Americans have qualified for every Olympic women’s soccer tournament since the first one in Atlanta in 1996. They’ve won four gold medals, but their two lowest finishes came at the last two Games — a loss in the quarterfinals in Rio and a bronze medal in Tokyo after that semifinal defeat to Canada.
It marked the Canadians’ first win over the U.S. since 2001, and they rode that momentum to gold four days later. Canada can still qualify for the Paris Olympics via playoff with Jamaica next year.
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. also qualified for next year’s World Cup and will bid for a three-peat in that quadrennial event. But the Americans head into that tournament in Australia and New Zealand with a different look.
Coach Vlatko Andonovski focused on developing young talent since Tokyo, and up-and-coming players including Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh have cracked the starting lineup.
A few veterans remain, including Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, who both started on Monday, and Megan Rapinoe, who was a reserve against Canada. Carli Lloyd retired after the Tokyo Games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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