USA vs. Panama, Olympic Qualifying: Final Score 8-0 as Yanks Run Rampant



The United States Women’s National Team jumped to the top of Group A with an 8-0 drubbing of Panama at BBVA Stadium on the second match day of group play. Lindsey Horan’s hat trick led the way and the U.S. could easily have doubled the lopsided score had it been just a bit more clinical in front of goal. Rose Lavelle, Lynn Williams, Christen Press, Jessica McDonald, and Tobin Heath also scored for the Yanks in front of 14,121 fans.

With the win, the USWNT earns a berth in the Concacaf semifinals with one group match remaining. Panama and Haiti are eliminated from the competition. The United States will face Costa Rica for top of the group on Monday. The USWNT currently holds the tie breaker with a +12 goal differential and will win the group with a draw or a win Monday night.

Vlatko Andonovski made some significant changes from Tuesday night’s lineup, including the insertion of all three Orlando Pride players into the starting XI, with Ashlyn Harris behind a back line of Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, and Emily Sonnett. Horan, Andi Sullivan and Lavelle made up the midfield, with a front line of Megan Rapinoe, Williams, and Jessica McDonald.

The U.S. domination began early, with Horan missing a sitter that Rapinoe set up from just a couple yards out 63 seconds into the match. She somehow fired her shot over the bar. But she made up for that moments later by cleaning up a rebound in front off a McDonald cross to make it 1-0.

McDonald should have scored in the sixth minute, getting in behind and beating the keeper toward the middle of the pitch but her touch was heavy and the defense was able to collapse on her before she could shoot into the empty net. Three minutes later, Lavelle fired a shot from the top of the area that Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey was able to stop.

In the 11th minute, McDonald collided with Bailey on a ball in the air and the two clashed heads. Bailey was attended to for a few minutes but stayed in the game despite the nasty collision. The game had just restarted when the USWNT carved through Panama’s middle on passes from Sonnett to Sullivan to Horan to Williams, who rounded Bailey and scored easily in the 15th minute to make it 2-0.

Three minutes after Williams scored, Horan notched a brace. McDonald sent in a cross from the right and Sonnett dummied the ball through. It took a deflection but still found Horan for the easy goal, pushing the lead to 3-0.

A minute after Horan’s second, McDonald should have given the U.S. its fourth goal. Rapinoe sent in a curling cross to the back post and with the entire net to shoot at the Courage striker missed the target. Instead, it was Lavelle who netted the fourth goal in the 21st minute. Williams got down the left side of the area and pulled Bailey out of position. While three Panama defenders stared at Williams, she sent a simple cross into the middle of the box to a wide-open Lavelle to finish.

The rest of the first half mostly consisted of the USWNT missing the final touch on a goal or else scoring with the offside flag up. The 4-0 lead could easily have been 8-0 at the break. Bailey could no longer continue in goal for Panama and Sasha Fabrega replaced her in the 33rd minute.

Dunn and Horan each sent a pacey shot right at Fabrega before the end of the half, on shots that should have been better placed. Each had plenty of time and space to pick out a better spot, especially Dunn, who was slipped in on a cheeky free kick pass from Rapinoe and was alone 1-v-1 with Fabrega. Horan took a couple of heavy touches as well that prevented her from completing her hat trick in the first half.

Still,l the U.S. held a comfortable 4-0 lead and had never been tested on defense. The shots were 17-0 at halftime (9-0 on target) and the Yanks held 62% of the possession.

The U.S. came out flying in the second half but just lacked that final sharpness. Lavelle should have made it 5-0 in the first minute after the break. She danced through several Panama defenders and into the area but then sent a left-footed shot wide. Williams had a shot deflected inches wide a minute later and then Lavelle and McDonald each missed the net again with good opportunities.

In the 54th minute, Rapinoe had only the goalkeeper to beat from just outside the area but she fired right at Fabrega’s midsection. Hey, at least she didn’t shoot wide. After several more misses, the ball started going in again.

Press finally got the ball to go home, ending the parade of misses in the 70th minute, smashing a header inside the far post off a cross from Williams, taking the lead to 5-0.

Two minutes later, McDonald finally got her goal. She had plenty of chances but finally got one in the net in the 72nd minute. A cross from the left came in to Heath and it hit off of her and a Panama defender before falling at McDonald’s feet. She smashed it into the top of the net for a 6-0 lead.

Heath scored on a nifty no-look effort in the 78th after Horan slipped her in behind the leaky Panama defense.

Horan capped the scoring by finally getting her hat trick after numerous missed opportunities to get that elusive third. McDonald sent in another deadly cross in the 81st and left Horan with nothing much to do besides tapping it home.

Panama was under siege all night and was fortunate that the USWNT wasn’t as sharp in front of goal as it should have been. Lavelle alone could have scored six goals and Horan could have had half a dozen as well. At the other end, Harris didn’t face a single shot and I can only recall her touching the ball twice in any capacity.

But the competition gets tougher from here, with Costa Rica, followed by a semifinal match-up.

The USWNT will close their group play on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. against Costa Rica. The match will be for first in the group after Costa Rica beat Haiti 2-0 earlier tonight.


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