Emily Sonnett, Mallory Pugh and Ashley Sanchez all scored to send the US national team to the final of the Concacaf W Championship with a 3-0 semi-final victory over Costa Rica on Thursday night.
Costa Rica and the United States both finished among the top four teams in the group stage to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The winner of the W Championship additionally earns one of the region’s spots in the Olympics.
The US team extended its shutout streak in World Cup or Olympic qualifying matches to 32 games.
Jamaica and Canada, which also qualified for the World Cup, met in the second semi-final later Thursday at Estadio Universitario. Conditions were tough for all of the teams with temperatures in the mid-90s.
The United States have won the past two World Cups, but they’re heading into next summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand with a different look. Coach Vlatko Andonovski has focused on developing young talent since winning the bronze medal at last year’s Olympics, and up-and-coming players including Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh have cracked the starting lineup.
A few veterans remain, including Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, who both started on Thursday.
Morgan had the team’s best chances early on. One of her opportunities, a left-footed shot, went wide left in the 13th minute.
Defender Sonnett broke through with her first international goal in the 33rd minute. Pugh scored her first goal of the tournament in first-half stoppage time – with a backheel assist from Rose Lavelle – to give the United States a 2-0 lead at the break.
Sanchez capped the victory with her goal in stoppage time.
For Costa Rica, Noelia Bermudez made the first start of the tournament in goal. Costa Rica won its first two group-stage matches before falling to Canada 2-0 on Monday.
In addition to the four direct berths in the World Cup, the third-place finishers in the two groups at the W Championship, Panama and Haiti, advanced to an intercontinental playoff in February in New Zealand.