The Americans breezed across the finish line Sunday night with another demolition of a terribly inferior foe at the Concacaf qualifying tournament, a 6-0 rout of Jamaica in a semifinal before 7,555 at Toyota Stadium.
The world’s top-ranked team — unbeaten in 17 games this year and 25 since summer 2017 — scored 100 seconds into the game and led by five after 33 minutes.
The march to the Women’s World Cup featured a 24-0 scoring margin, a 143-10 advantage on shots and zero drama — well, except who would take a late penalty kick.
“The competition has not been very good, so we have to take it with a grain of salt,” left wing Megan Rapinoe said. But in citing the cohesion, variety of scorers — 10 players have posted goals — and the flow of the attack, she added, “It’s cooking right now.”
Along those lines, Coach Jill Ellis said: “We talked about qualifying but also how we qualify, how we play. It doesn’t really matter who we are playing. It’s really about challenging ourselves to get better in every game.”
The Americans became the 17th team to qualify for next summer’s 24-nation competition, where they will face stronger competition at almost every step in their bid for a fourth world trophy. They will learn group opponents and the path to the final at the Dec. 8 draw in Paris.
Fifth-ranked Canada also secured passage here Sunday with a 7-0 victory over Panama, which will face Jamaica on Wednesday in a third-place match that will decide an automatic slot. The fourth-place finisher will play Argentina in a two-leg playoff next month.
With the World Cup berths out of the way, the United States and Canada will meet here Wednesday for regional bragging rights. The Americans have won the Concacaf title in seven of their previous eight attempts, the only failure coming in 2010 after their lone defeat in 32 all-time qualifiers (against host Mexico in the semifinals).
“This is going to be a change of pace” after facing lightweight teams, said forward Alex Morgan, who scored twice against Jamaica. “It will be good for us. Just because we qualified for the World Cup doesn’t mean we are going to take our foot off the gas. We want to win this tournament.”
Others with World Cup plans: France (host); China, Thailand, Australia, Japan and South Korea from Asia; Brazil and Chile (South America); and Spain, Italy, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Germany (Europe). Africa and Oceania have yet to conduct qualifying tournaments.
The Americans did not waste any time Sunday. Jamaican goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, a New Jersey resident who plays at UNC Wilmington, stopped Lindsey Horan’s 18-yard shot but left the rebound for Tobin Heath, who volleyed into the right side of the net for the first of her two goals.
Schneider was among several Jamaican players with U.S. ties, either through birth, schooling or pro opportunities. Midfielder Chinyelu Asher plays for the Washington Spirit’s reserve team. Cornell, Central Florida and Tennessee are represented. Coach Hue Menzies runs a soccer club near Orlando.
The Reggae Girlz were no match for the U.S. squad. “They’re at another level,” Menzies said.
Rapinoe doubled the lead in the 15th minute, collecting Abby Dahlkemper’s superb long ball in stride and ripping a wicked shot from an angle into the roof of the net.
Six minutes later, Crystal Dunn crossed from almost the corner flag to Julie Ertz, who powered in a running header while infiltrating the six-yard box. Horan served a delightful pass to Heath for a seven-yard one-timer, and Morgan scored from close range. (Morgan also scored on a penalty kick in the 84th minute for her 23rd goal in 23 games.)
The Americans enjoyed 76 percent of possession in the first half (and 77 percent overall).
With rain falling and all three U.S. subs exhausted by early in the second half, the match took on the feel of an inconsequential friendly. While Jamaica turned attention to the biggest game in the history of the women’s program Wednesday, the Americans began to peek ahead to France.
“The players were excited,” Ellis said, “about beginning the new journey.”
CANADA 7, PANAMA 0: Christine Sinclair broke a scoreless deadlock just before intermission, and the Canadians used their aerial superiority to add two goals in the first four minutes of the second half in rolling to a seventh consecutive berth.
The first three goals came in similar fashion: headers from close range off crosses in the run of play.
Sinclair nodded in Janine Becker’s cross in the 44th minute. Jessie Fleming connected on Diana Matheson’s service in the 48th, and Sinclair put away Nichelle Prince’s pass in the 49th for her 177th international goal, seven short of the world record held by retired U.S. forward Abby Wambach.
Becker and Rebecca Quinn (Washington Spirit) scored five minutes apart, and Adriana Leon increased her tournament total to six with two late goals. Canada has outscored its opponents 24-1.
Knowing the best path to qualification was through the third-place match, Panama had rested six players from a lineup that upset Mexico, 2-0, in the Group A finale Wednesday. Among the absences was Yenith Bailey, a 17-year-old goalkeeper who was spectacular in the group stage. She was held out for precautionary reasons because of a shoulder injury.