CARY, NORTH CAROLINA – The United States put itself firmly on the path to the 2019 Women’s World Cup Thursday with a crushing 6-0 victory over Mexico to open the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan both scored twice. Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath added a goal apiece for the U.S., which roared into the final round of qualifiers on the back of a 21-game unbeaten streak.
The United States, which beat Japan to win the 2015 World Cup title, was stunned in the Olympic quarterfinals in Rio two years ago.
The power of its revamped side was on full display against a Mexico team ranked 24th in the world.
The Americans opened the scoring in the third minute when Rapinoe slotted home a ball put through by Lindsey Horan, the 1-0 lead standing until halftime.
Three minutes after the break, Ertz made it 2-0 and 10 minutes later Morgan headed in a corner kick by Rapinoe.
Heath made it 4-0 in the 61st minute and Rapinoe bagged her second in the 71st into an open net off a loose ball in the penalty area. Morgan slotted home in the 80th to cap the scoring.
In the opening game of the day’s doubleheader, Panama outplayed Trinidad and Tobago on the way to a 3-0 victory.
Marta Cox, Kenia Rangel and Erika Hernandez scored for Panama, ranked 66th in the world and playing in the regional championship for just the third time.
Panama will take on the United States on Sunday when Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 52nd in the world, face Mexico.
Group B action was set to open on Friday when Costa Rica plays Cuba and Canada meets Jamaica at Edinburg, Texas.
The top two teams from each group advance to a semifinals in Frisco, Texas, on Oct. 14 before the final and third-place playoff three days later at the same venue.
The two finalists plus the winner of the third place playoff qualify automatically for France 2019 while the loser of the third-place match will face a further playoff against a side from South America.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5