CARY, North Carolina -- The United States took a giant step towards qualifying for the semifinals of the 2018 concacaf Women's Championship with a 5-0 triumph over Panama in Group A action on Sunday night.
If Mexico tied or drew with Trinidad & Tobago in the second game of the doubleheader at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Americans (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) would clinch a berth in next week's final four in Frisco, Texas. Panama (1W-0D-1L, 3), which defeated T&T in Thursday night's opener, also can move on.
Carli Lloyd paced the defending FIFA Women's World Cup champions with a hat-trick as she has 106 international goals. Sam Mewis and Christen Press also tallied for an American side that saw nine changes from its 6-0 triumph over Mexico on Thursday.
Yenith Bailey, Panama's 17-year-old goalkeeper, was outstanding, making several saves as she could only slow down a relentless attack.
Five minutes into the match, Mewis headed in a Press corner kick to the far post. Lloyd made it 2-0, heading home another Press corner in the 23rd minute before making several quick moves to free herself before firing home from 15 yards in the 29th minute. Press found the range in the 32nd minute, beating two defenders before rounding Bailey.
Lloyd tallied her third goal in the 48th minute, converting Rose LaValle's free kick for a 5-0 advantage.
Group A action concludes Wednesday night as the U.S. faces Trinidad and Mexico play Panama.