USA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign to begin in Mexico on Thursday against Haiti
If history is the most reliable gauge to forecast the U.S. women's performance in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the Americans should breeze through the group stage and face a stiffer test in the semifinal stage, which will determine the two automatic berths to Germany next summer.
Pia Sundhage's squad opens Thursday night against Haiti and then faces Guatemala on Saturday and Costa Rica on Monday in Cancun, Mexico, which will host the eight-team tournament over 12 days. The Americans are 2-0-0 all-time vs. Haiti with an 18-0 scoring advantage and 5-0-0 with a 27-0 difference vs. Costa Rica. They've never faced Guatemala, but the outcome is not expected to be close.
In World Cup qualifying history, the U.S. program is 16-0-0 and outscored opponents 113-3. Two goals conceded came against Canada in the finals of the 2003 and '07 qualifying events after both teams had qualified; the Americans won both in overtime.
This time, they will probably face Canada or Mexico in the semifinals. Although the Americans are 24-0-1 all-time vs. Mexico -- which traditionally relies on Americans with Mexican heritage -- the meetings in friendlies this year were tighter: 3-0 and 1-0, both in the States. Against Canada, the USA is 40-3-4.
Starters missing from the U.S. roster are goalkeeper Hope Solo (shoulder surgery) and defender Lori Chalupny, the team's best all-around player, who was cleared to play for her club but not allowed to rejoin the national team because of concussion symptoms.
While the two finalists will secure passage to Germany, the winner of the third-place match will play Europe's fifth-place side, Italy or Switzerland, in a playoff. [UPDATE: Italy eliminated Switzerland on Wednesday on 5-2 aggregate and will host the first leg of the playoff vs. the CONCACAF entry Nov. 20.]
There is no live TV coverage, but CONCACAF will provide live streaming video in Spanish on its Web site.
The World Cup field so far: Germany, North Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, England, Sweden, Norway and France. Seven slots remain: two CONCACAF, two Africa, two South America, one from the CONCACAF-Europe playoff.
GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart (Gold Pride), Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars).
DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler (Gold Pride), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Ali Krieger (Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue), Becky Sauerbrunn (Washington Freedom).
MIDFIELDERS: Yael Averbuch (Sky Blue), Shannon Boxx (Gold Pride), Kristine Lilly (Boston Breakers), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Heather O'Reilly (Sky Blue), Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars).
FORWARDS: Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (U of California), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom).
| October 27, 2010; 2:43 PM ET
Categories: CONCACAF, Women | Tags: women's soccer
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