Graphic from the USWNT (United States Women’s National Team) Instagram account publicizing their qualification. Photo Credit: @ussoccer_wnt Instagram

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France begins in June, and to be admitted, each team must qualify. Qualifying games are already underway and teams are continuing to prepare for 2019. Qualifying works like this: France automatically qualifies as they are the hosts. As for the rest of the world, they go through different tournaments based on where they are located geographically against other teams in their zone. Within each tournament the teams are split up into different groups: A, B and sometimes C (many of the tournaments only have 4 teams, which is why group C is only sometimes needed). Each team must win their group to qualify. Teams that have qualified through this process include but aren’t limited to Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Spain, England and many more. The United States Women’s National Team qualified for the 2019 World Cup through the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. They played Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Canada over a span of two weeks in the tournament.

On October 4th, the USWNT played Mexico, winning 6 – 0 and keeping a 21 game unbeaten streak. Goal scorers included Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, who each achieved a brace, as well as Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath, with assists from Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lindsey Horan and Rapinoe. The United States quickly dominated in the 3rd minute with a goal from Rapinoe, the ball coming off of a poor clearance by Mexico’s Christina Ferral and bouncing off Horan’s body and into the feet of Rapinoe, who put the shot away. This first goal set the tone for the rest of the game with Mexico, and gave the team confidence for the whole tournament. In this game, Mexico presented a lack of discipline in their movements with the ball as well as a lack of ball skills when under pressure. This meant that the United States were able to experiment in a game with high stakes; for instance, Becky Sauerbrunn was allowed to go up from her normal position as a defender and help the attacking efforts, which wouldn’t have happened without the USWNT’s commanding lead and good defense.

The second game of the tournament for the USWNT was played against Panama. The game ended with a score of 5-0 with a victory for the United States. The USA scored in the 5th minute from a set piece when a corner kick from Christen Press was finished by Sam Mewis. Captain Carli Lloyd then scored two goals in the remaining minutes of the first half, and added a third in the second half; her first hat-trick since 2016. The goalie from Panama, Yenith Bailey, kept the score down by saving 12 shots from the USA. Winning this game put the USWNT in the position to win all of Group A and qualified them to the semi-finals of the championship and they were on track to qualify for the World Cup. After their victory against Panama, the USWNT faced Trinidad and Tobago, winning 7-0 and putting them into the semi-finals of the CONCACAF championship.

In the semi-final the USWNT won against Jamaica, 6-0, granting them a spot at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Tobin Heath opened the game by scoring just 100 seconds in, and the USA took control of the game from there, dominating the pace of the game and staying dominant all throughout leaving Jamaica scoreless. In the final of the CONCACAF Championship, the USWNT played Canada. Their 2-0 win also secured their victory in the tournament for the sixth time. Rose Lavelle scored the first goal of the game in the second minute, with Alex Morgan finishing a ball and scoring the second goal in the dying minutes of the game. The game was very physical and an intense match-up as these rival games normally are, shown by players: “obviously we hate Canada and they hate us,” Rapinoe said in a post-game interview with Fox Sports once they’d won the title.

The USWNT will continue to prepare and train for the World Cup, which starts June 9. They will play a series of friendly games before they head to France. The players and coaches will continue to prepare and be at the height of their capabilities by June. Other teams have entered qualifications and are continuing to prepare for France. Fans and players alike are expecting great competition, well behaved referees and entertainment from the talent.

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