• Friday Feb 19, 2016

    Morgan hat-trick puts U.S. on road to Rio

    Alex Morgan (pictured) scored three goals in the USA's win over Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals on February 19, 2016, in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Mexsport)

    HOUSTON -- The United States will be in Rio de Janeiro later this year to defend its Olympic Games gold medal after posting a 5-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals on Friday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.

    Alex Morgan led the way with a hat-trick, while Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath added a goal each, setting up a meeting with Canada in Sunday’s final.

    Heath opened the scoring in the 12th minute as she tailored a run from the upper-right corner of the box to meet Mallory Pugh’s diagonal delivery from the left-goal line. Without hesitation the 27-year-old midfielder fired a left-footer from 11-yards out past goalkeeper Kimika Forbes.

    The Americans kept moving forward in waves, but Trinidad did well with some laudable defending and Forbes’ excellent netminding.

    Morgan, however, would not be denied in the 30th minute. Kelley O’Hara launched a cross from the right to the left corner of the six-yard box, where Lindsey Horan was positioned to head it back across the goal for Morgan, who first-timed it with her left foot from four yards.

    Lloyd made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute, heading Morgan Brian’s right-sided corner kick through Forbes’ arms and legs from eight-yards out. It was Lloyd’s 11th goal in her last 10 CWOQ games.

    The USA confirmed its strong attacking credentials with two more goals, both by Morgan.

    In the 71st minute, a game of pinball, resulting from another right-sided corner kick, led to the fourth goal. An initial header by Samantha Mewis was blocked on the line by Jenelle Cunningham and looped towards Morgan. She headed it back in the same direction, but Cunningham was there to head it off her own crossbar. The ricochet found Morgan for a follow-up with her left foot from three-yards out to extend the advantage to 4-0.

    Two minutes later, Morgan completed her first-ever CWOQ hat-trick. From 24-yards out, Brian deposited a perfectly-weighted chip into box that Morgan – off a well-timed run – directed into the back of the net with her left from nine-yards out.

    The U.S. has not allowed a goal in its last nine CWOQ games, last conceding against Canada in the 2008 final.

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