The United States women's national team defeated Costa Rica in the Concacaf W Championship semifinal 3-0 on Thursday evening in Monterrey, Mexico. Emily Sonnett and Mallory Pugh scored in the first half, while Ashley Sanchez scored a late goal in the second half. The Americans are now one win away from Olympic qualification and from booking a spot in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. They'll face Canada -- a 3-0 winner over Jamaica -- in the final on Monday.
Coach Vlatko Andonovski continued his staple of player rotation through the semifinal, starting four different players from the starting eleven that played in the final match of the group stage against Mexico. Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta entered on defense for Naomi Girma and Kelley O'Hara, Rose Lavelle in the midfield for Ashley Sanchez, and Mallory Pugh in the attack in place of Midge Purce.
Costa Rica kept things scoreless for a half hour against the USWNT, presenting a five at the back in a low block to start the match. Despite earning a couple of corner kick opportunities that Las Ticas failed to convert, the USWNT eventually unlocked Costa Rica's shape with a scrappy goal by Sonnett in the 34th minute.
The goal was a first for Sonnett in her national team career, and the theme of firsts continued. Pugh extended the scoreline for the USWNT during first-half stoppage time, getting her first goal of the tournament. The USWNT's impressive counter press paid off, as Sophia Smith won the ball in the attacking third, and Lavelle's crafty backheel connected with Pugh on a run in the box.
Then Sanchez's goal was also her first of the competition, finishing in the fifth minute of added time.
What the win means for USA
The Concacaf W Championship serves as qualification for the 2023 Women's World Cup, and the winner of the Concacaf tournament will earn a place in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, and the 2024 Gold Cup. The semifinalists already punched their ticket to the 2023 World Cup as the USWNT, Canada, Costa Rica, and Jamaica were the top two teams in their respective groups.
The USWNT win against Costa Rica keeps the team undefeated in the tournament and cements a place in the final, where they will face Canada. The final two teams will compete for a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games and 2024 W Gold Cup.
As the USWNT achieved their first objective to qualify for the World Cup, the focus now shifts towards the Concacaf W Championship final, where the tournament winner will earn spots in the Olympics and the Gold Cup. The USWNT are back-to-back tournament winners and eight-time title holders. The team is looking for a third straight title and a spot in an eighth Olympic Games.
The United States will meet Canada in the Concacaf W Championship final Monday, July 18 in Monterrey, Mexico. Kickoff is at 10 p.m. ET on Paramount+, with studio coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Lisa Byington and Aly Wagner will serve as match commentators with Jenny Chiu as the sideline reporter. Host Poppy Miller, along with U.S. Hall of Fame goalkeeper Briana Scurry, former Canada national team player Kaylyn Kyle and UNLV women's soccer coach Jenny Ruiz-Williams will serve as analysts throughout the competition.
Paramount+ is the only place to stream every minute of every match in the Concacaf W Championship. You can quickly and easily sign up for your very own account right now with a free one-month trial (from June 27-July 19) by using GLORY as your offer code. Just click on the "try it free" button and use the promo code for instant access to the best women's soccer -- NWSL, FA Women's Super League, UEFA Women's World Cup qualifiers and AFC Women's Asian Cup -- across all your devices.