November 8, 2010

Canada Edges Mexico 1-0 in Concacaf Final; US To Play Italy

Christine Sinclair's penalty kick early in the 2nd half turned out to be the game winner as Canada defeated Mexico 1-0 in the Concacaf final in Cancun, Mexico. In spite of a brave effort by the home team and great support from their home crowd, the Mexican side were unable to repeat their magic from Friday night's victory over the US in the semifinals.

The hero of Friday night, Veronica Perez, was ejected for an intentional hand ball in the box, which led to the penalty kick. The Canadians, who had held the better of play to that point, were able to control possession for much of 2nd half with the player advantage, allowing only a couple of chances for Mexico in the closing stages of the match.

Karina LeBlanc, who played last season for the Philadelphia Independence, earned the shutout for the Canadians. Canada was able to blank Mexico for the second time in the tournament, having defeated them 3-0 in the group stage less than a week earlier. Canada outscored their opponents by a 17-0 for their five matches in the tournament.

Both Canada and Mexico will advance to the 2011 World Cup which will be played in Germany next June and July.

US 3, Costa Rica 0

It wasn't necessarily pretty, but the USWNT was able to get the job done in a must win situation, defeating Costa Rica 3-0. Abby Wambach's brace was the highlight of the match for the US.

US coach Pia Sundhage inserted Lori Lindsey, Ali Krieger, and Lauren Cheney into the lineup for this match following Friday night's disappointing effort.

Cheney put her team up 1-0 in the opening stanza, on a deflected shot that eluded Costa Rican goalkeeper, Dinnia Diaz. Lori Lindsey had possession on the left side of the box and passed back across the middle to Cheney, who was able to work her way free for the shot from 15 yards. Diaz appeared to have the shot covered, but it deflected off the inside of a defender's legs and went behind Diaz who was moving in the opposite direction.

Abby Wambach made it 2-0 on the goal of the match. Lori Lindsey sent the ball from 35 yards out into the penalty area. Wambach slipped behind the defense and volleyed the ball beautifully into the left corner of the net.

At the start of the 2nd half, Costa Rica nearly cut the lead to one. A breakdown in the US defense saw Monica Malvassi get in alone on Nicole Barnhart, but her weak shot hit the left post and was cleared easily. On the counterattack, Cheney pushed the ball out to Abby Wambach, who had gotten clear at the extreme right side of the penalty area. Wambach sent the ball low past Diaz inside the far post to make it 3-0.

The US will now face Italy in a home-and-home playoff for the final World Cup berth. The US will travel to Padua (Padova), Italy for a November 20 match. The Italians will then travel to Chicago to face the US at Toyota Park on November 27.

Some information for this story was obtained through the Official Concacaf Website.