USWNT defeats Canada in the CONCACAF W Championship Finals

USA women’s national soccer team not rebuilt, but rebooted. It’s a cycle of life that goes back almost a generation when Julie Foody and Mia Hamm were replaced by Abby Wambach and Carly Lloyd who then stepped aside Megan Rapino as well as Alex Morgan.

What doesn’t change are the results that the young, inexperienced US team proved on Monday night when they beat Canada 1-0 in the final CONCACAF Championship (W) on Estadio BBVA by earning an automatic seat in Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The victory marked the 31st straight win for the Americans at the CONCACAF World Championships and the 2010 Olympic Qualifiers, and the 31st straight as a result of the lockout. During this time, the United States edged out rivals 149-0.

Although Monday’s victory was not as significant as past victories (the only goal was scored by Morgan from a penalty kick in the 78th minute), it marked the emergence of a new wave of players who rejuvenated an aging team. It also earned Morgan the Ballon d’Or as the tournament’s best player.

“It’s always nice,” Morgan said, “to be called a champion.”

When the United States lost to Canada in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics last summer – on penalties – she had the oldest team in the tournament. So after the team’s bronze medal performance, the second-worst result for US women at the Summer Games, coach Vlatko Andonovski set about reworking a roster that had also been weakened by injuries and maternity leave.

As a result, the nine women who played in that Olympic loss to Canada were not on the Mexico team, and the 13 who were here competed in their first World Cup or Olympic qualifier.

Morgan, 33, was one of the holdovers. She showed why in the qualifiers by starting four times, taking on the mantle of leadership and following in the oversized footsteps of Foody, Hamm and Wambach.

“Alex plays better,” said Andonowski, who used five starting lineups and 21 of his 23 players in the tournament. “She doesn’t want to stop growing. She doesn’t want to stop growing. She wants to make her game harder in every possible way.

“And she did it day after day.”

Alex Morgan of the USA controls the ball against Vanessa Gilles of Canada during the final of the W CONCACAF Championship.

Alex Morgan of the USA tries to control the ball against Vanessa Gilles of Canada during the CONCACAF W Championship final. Morgan’s goal from the penalty spot in the 78th minute was the winner.

(Fernando Llano/Associated Press)

Indeed, Morgan plays as well as at any point in his career. She leads the NWSL with a career-high 11 goals in 10 games for the San Diego Wave expansion and scored three goals in the qualifiers, aiming for a tournament record.

“I just feel good in general. I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m confident,” she said. “And I just feel like I can make exactly the kind of contribution I’m being asked to make.”

She scored the only goal her team needed on Monday after Canadian defender Allisha Chapman reached out to knock Rose Lavelle down in the box with 15 minutes left in regulation, earning a penalty. Lindsey Horan initially brought the ball to the point, but eventually conceded to Morgan, who, after a long pause, landed a low kick with his left foot into the right post.

Canadian goaltender Kaylene Sheridan, Morgan’s teammate on The Wave, dived the other way. But she still deserved a better fate for a wonderful game in which she made five saves.

Canada has lost to top Americans in the finals of the last five World Cup and Olympic qualifiers it has competed in, with the latest loss costing it an automatic berth for the 2024 Summer Games. The reigning Olympic champions, ranked sixth in the world by FIFA, can still claim Paris by beating Jamaica, who beat Costa Rica 1-0 after extra time in the third-place match on Monday, in the playoffs next summer .

Both the United States and Canada, as well as Jamaica and Costa Rica, qualified for the World Cup next summer by simply reaching the semi-finals here.

“What you saw tonight is World Cup champions against Olympic champions,” said Canadian coach Bev Priestman, the latest coach to beat the US. “So it’s a good margin at this level. You use these moments to move forward.

“The most important thing for us is that we keep moving forward.”