U.S. tops Canada, earns FIFA U-17 WWC return

Players from the USA (pictured) celebrate after scoring against Canada in the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship semifinals on March 11, 2016, in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada -- The United States booked a spot in the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup by recording a 5-0 semifinal win over Canada in the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship at the Grenada Athletics Stadium on Friday night. 

Alexa Spaanstra, Jordan Canniff, Civana Kuhlmann, Sophia Smith and Frankie Tagliaferri tallied for the Americans, who will next meet defending champion Mexico – a 3-0 winner over Haiti in the first semifinal -- in Sunday’s final. The sides met in the 2013 semifinals, when Mexico prevailed 4-2 on penalty kicks, following a 1-1, draw to eliminate the U.S. from contention. 

Canada, the only CONCACAF country to participate in all four editions of the FIFA tournament, will play Haiti for a berth at Jordan 2016 in the third-place match, also on Sunday. 

Using a high pressure attack, the U.S. peppered the Canadian goal with shots from the opening kickoff. With the match 27 seconds old, captain Ashley Sanchez earned possession of the ball and set-up Kuhlmann, forcing goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx to deny her from close range. 

Proulox's heroics kept the game scoreless until the 33rd minute as Spaanstra volleyed home a Kennedy Wesley right-flank feed from 10 yards for a 1-0 advantage and her second goal of the competition. 

A minute into first-half stoppage time, the Americans gave themselves some breathing room. Jaelin Howell sent in a right-wing feed for Kuhlmann to shoot that Proulx stopped. Canniff, 14, pounced on the rebound and slotted it home from seven-yards out for her first tournament score. 

Canada head coach Beverly Priestman gave side some fresh legs by bringing on Nahida Baalbaki and Camila Gomez at the half, but their presence did not slow down the USA’s attack. 

Wesley created Kuhlmann's third goal of the tournament as the forward redirected her long-range feed with her right knee from for a 3-0 lead in the 54th minute. 

Second-half substitutes Smith and Tagliaferri (team-high fifth goal) sealed the win with tallied in the first and third minutes of second-half stoppage time, respectively. 

The U.S. has never lost a game in competition, improving to 22W-2D-0L and outscoring the opposition, 135-4.