Women’s Soccer Olympic Qualifying

The 2020 Summer Olympics are fast approaching. The Tokyo Games are just six months out with the opening ceremony beginning on July 24th. The schedule is jam packed with all different athletics on showcase right up until the closing ceremony on August 9th. 

In order to participate in the Olympics, qualifying rounds occur. They determine the fittest and most eligible teams to play in the games. This ensures it’s full of the fiercest competitors in the world. In the coming summer months, the United States Women’s National Soccer team has a huge task at hand. Since they won the 2019 World Cup, they are under pressure and have their eyes set on gold in Tokyo.  

The first set of Olympic qualifying women’s soccer games is taking place in Texas then the semi-finals and finals of the qualifying tournament will be in California. Eight different nations are being represented in this tournament but only two will end up qualified to be part of the Olympics. The CONCACAF (an acronym for the region from which the teams hail) games will include, the United States, Canda, Saint Kitts and Nieves, Jamaica, Haiti, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. These eight teams were broken into group A and group B. The first and second place teams, from each of the groups, will play in a semi-final round. The winners from each semi-final game are the two teams that will advance to the 2020 Olympics. 

Group A consists of players from the United States, Haiti, Panama, and Costa Rica. Group B is made up of Canada, Saint Kitts and Nieves, Jamaica, and Mexico. 

The game series kicked off on January 28th with the first game taking place between Panama and Costa Rica. The final score was 6-1 in favor of Costa Rica. The Costa Rican team heavily dominated the game having nearly double the number of shots and passes. They also dominated possession which made it easy for them to gain the win in the end. 

Later that day, the United States played against Haiti. In the first 90 seconds of the game, Christen Press scored for the U.S. putting them in the lead. It was the team’s first game back since October so their goal scoring didn’t soar, but by the end of the game, the U.S. had won 4-0. Lynn Williams, Carli Lloyd, and Lindsey Horan all scored goals, too. By the end of the match, Rose Lavelle earned a yellow card for three consecutive fouls and there were a bunch of minor injuries on Haiti’s side making their trainers very busy. 

The next set of games was played on January 29th with the first game of the day being Canada vs. Saint Kitts and Nieves. Leading up to this game there was huge talk about Christine Sinclair, the Canadian team captain, breaking the record for all-time international goal scored. The record was set and held by Abby Wambach with 185 goals in her career. Going into the game, Sinclair had 184 goals so she just needed two ore to pull ahead. A few minutes into the game Canada was awarded a penalty kick which Sinclair took. That marked one more goal for her. Just moments later, she scored a second goal of the match giving her just what she needed to pass the scoring record. In celebration, her teammates lined up like bowling pins and she pretended to score a strike. Sinclair now holds the most international goals scored of all time in both men and women’s soccer. The rest of the game was pretty uneventful for Saint Kitts and Nieves but Canada seemed to try as hard as they could to rack up the score. In the end, Canada won 11-0. 

Right after that game, Mexico played Jamaica. It ended up being a 1-0 game, the only goal of the game being scored in the 35th minute. For the rest of the game, each teams’ stats were very similar, 9-10 when it came to shots, 3-4 when it came to shots on target. However, possession did favor Mexico most of the game which is how they pulled out the win. 

After the first round of games, Costa Rica leads Group A and Canda leads Group B by a large margin of 11-1 in goal differential. 

The second round of the group stages kicked with Haiti vs. Costa Rica. This game was very rough right off the bat with a yellow card being given out just 13 minutes into the game. As the game progressed, three more yellows were given out, two to Haiti and one to Costa Rica. The star of this game was Raquel ‘Rocky’ Rodriguez who scored both goals for the Costa Rican team. Haiti had 7 shots, 5 of which were on target but unfortunately, they were not able to convert any of them to goals. Costa Rica was definitely on top of things with higher passing accuracy and fewer fouls. Haiti tried hard but overall their play was slightly out of sync which is what ended up leading to their loss. 

The next game played was the USA vs. Panama. When the lineup for this game was released, many fans of the USWNT (US Women’s National Team) were confused because it strayed from the typical lineup; however, the group of girls dominated. The final score of the game ended up being 0-8 in favor of the U.S. and Lindsey Horan made a huge impact on this game by scoring three goals, one being a hat-trick, as well as having many shots on target. The goalkeeper of Panama, Yenith Bailey, was subbed off the field at the 33rd minute shortly after a head collision with Jessica McDonald from the U.S. team. It was released that Bailey fractured her face and is now out for 4-6 weeks. Tobin Heath came in at the 75th minute and scored at the 79th with an impressive goal that she didn’t even have to look at the goal to make. 

The rest of the tournament can be watched on Fs1 or Fs2. The CONCACAF youtube is also live-streaming the games.