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US Women down Canada 4-0

It was the Alex Morgan show as the US downed Canada in the final of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. Morgan scored twice and assisted on two Abby Wambach goals as the US ran out easy winners over the host nation. The game was largely meaningless save for regional pride, with both sides having already qualified for this summer’s London games.

Pia Sundhage made a number of changes from the squad that beat Costa Rica on Friday. Meghan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey, Amy Rodriguez, Becky Sauerbrunn, Heather Mitts, and Morgan all joined the starting line up and Lauren Cheney, Shannon Boxx, Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath, Amy LePelbeit, and Rachel Beuhler were all confined to the bench.

It took only four minutes for Morgan to open the scoring. A long ball from Carli Lloyd was flicked on by Abby Wambach near the edge of the center circle and Morgan was on her horse, beating, and then holding off two Canadian defenders before cooly finishing to the lower left corner with her left foot.

Canada quickly looked to bounce back from the early goal just a minute later when some good work on the edge of the US box saw Christine Sinclair find Christina Julien with a through ball, but Hope Solo was quick off her line to smother the chance.

Morgan would turn provider as the US doubled their lead in the 24th minute. Some good work through the midfield saw Meghan Rapinoe play a good ball to Morgan 20 yards from goal. Morgan pushed the ball to the end line to the right of the Canadian goal and used her pace to track it down to loft a cross to the near post. Wambach made a perfect run, flicking a header into the far post just ahead of Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod.

Wambach ensured the rout was on when she added a third US goal just four minutes later. Carli Lloyd latched onto a bouncing ball 30 yards from goal and launched a low, hard drive off the right post with McLeod beaten. The rebound came straight to Morgan, who cooly squared the ball to Wambach who could not miss from six yards.

Canada would look to look to pull a goal back just before half time when it was Julien again through on goal, one on one with Solo from 18 yards. Solo calmly waited out the striker who dribbled straight at the keeper and then fired a right footed shot that was saved, with the rebound bouncing back off Julien and out of play.

Lauren Cheney replaced Abby Wambach at half time and would provide the service for Morgan’s second goal of the night on 55 minutes. Cheney saw space behind the Canadian back line, who were surprisingly high with the speedy Morgan lurking and chipped the ball into the open area. Morgan raced onto the ball, pushed it past the onrushing McLeod, and finished into the empty net just as the Canadian defenders came close to recovering.

Sydney Leroux and Rachel Buehler both saw time before the match was over and the US methodically killed off the final half hour with a comfortable lead. With the home crowd behind them, the Canadians were confident coming into the match. But it was the American depth and fitness that were on full display for all 90 minutes.

With Morgan in the starting line up and Cheney out on the evening, it was the first time in the tournament that the US started in a 4-4-2. With Rapinoe and A-Rod on the wings, it was a very speed oriented line-up that tested the fitness of the Canadians from the outset. Perhaps it was the competitive match that Canada was forced to play against Mexico on Friday or just the shear depth of the Americans, but the Canadians just never seemed up to the task physically.

The Americans scored 34 goals in 5 games of Olympic qualifying, and did not concede once. A relatively easy tournament was probably welcomed by Sundhage after last year’s difficulty in qualifying for the World Cup. The US will go into summer games as one of the favorites and in good form in competitive matches.

US: Hope Solo, Heather Mitts (Rachel Buehler, 69), Becky Sauerbrunn, Christie Rampone (capt.), Kelley O’Hara; Amy Rodriguez (Sydney Leroux, 63), Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe; Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach (Lauren Cheney, 46)

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