Emily Sonnett, Mallory Pugh and Ashley Sanchez all scored to send the USA national team into the Concacaf W Championship final with a 3-0 semi-final win over Costa Rica on Thursday night.
Both Costa Rica and the United States finished in the top four teams in the group stage to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The W Championship winner additionally earns one of the region’s spots in the Olympic Games.
Team USA extended their shutout streak in World Cup or Olympic qualifying matches to 32 games.
Jamaica and Canada, also qualified for the World Cup, met in the second semi-final later Thursday at the Estadio Universitario. Conditions were tough for all teams with temperatures in the mid-90s.
The United States have won the last two World Cups, but they head 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 the Olympics last year, and promising players including Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh have been part of starting training.
There are a few veterans left, including Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, who both started on Thursday.
Morgan had the best chances on the team early on. One of his chances, a left-footed shot, went wide on the left in the 13th minute.
Defender Sonnett broke through with her first international goal in the 33rd minute. Pugh scored his first goal of the tournament in first-half stoppage time – with a backheel from Rose Lavelle – to give the United States a 2-0 lead at the break.
Sanchez capped the win with his stoppage-time goal.
For Costa Rica, Noelia Bermudez made the first start of the tournament in goal. Costa Rica won their first two group stage matches before losing to Canada 2-0 on Monday.
In addition to the four direct World Cup places, the third of the two groups of the W Championship, Panama and Haiti, qualified for intercontinental qualifiers in February in New Zealand.