U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Secures 2023 World Cup Spot
The defending champions beat Jamaica on Thursday and secured a spot in next summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand
By Rachel Bachman, July 8, 2022 8:10 am ET
The U.S. women’s soccer team is a perfect nine for nine.
The defending world champions secured a berth in the 2023 World Cup on Thursday—Americans’ ninth bid in nine Women’s World Cups dating back to the inaugural one in 1991.
The U.S. landed the spot Thursday by clinching at least a semifinal berth in the Concacaf W Championship, an eight-team tournament in the North/Central American and Caribbean confederation that serves as the region’s World Cup qualifier.
The U.S. beat Jamaica on Thursday to go up 2-0 in the tournament—and got help from a surprisingly strong Haiti team, which stunned Mexico 3-0 in Thursday’s late game in Monterrey, Mexico.
That combination of events assured the U.S. of one of Concacaf’s four spots in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, to be held next summer in Australia and New Zealand.
Sophia Smith, one of a group of promising young U.S. forwards, scored two early goals to power the U.S. to a 5-0 victory over Jamaica. Midfielder Rose Lavelle scored early in the second half, Kristie Mewis converted a penalty kick and Trinity Rodman tapped in a late goal to round out the scoring.
“We did not allow them to be dangerous,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said of Jamaica, No. 51 in FIFA’s world ranking to the U.S. No. 1.
On Monday, the U.S. beat Haiti 3-0 to open play in the tournament, as veteran forward Alex Morgan scored twice and Midge Purce added another goal.
The U.S. faces Mexico on Monday in the final game of group play. The Concacaf W semifinal games are July 14. The final is July 18.
Trinity Rodman scored the team’s fifth goal in the 5-0 win.PHOTO: PILAR OLIVARES/REUTERS
Mexico lost to Jamaica earlier in the tournament, and dropped to the bottom of Group A with Thursday’s loss—a disastrous showing for the host nation.
Mexico can no longer automatically qualify for the World Cup and would need to defeat the U.S. on Monday to have a chance to finish third and earn a berth to a 10-team inter-confederation playoff that will send the final three teams to the World Cup. Mexico’s women failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
Haiti, meanwhile, plays Jamaica on Monday for its first Women’s World Cup berth.
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, the Golden Ball winner for the best player at the 2019 World Cup, was unavailable to play Thursday. That, according to the team’s Twitter feed, was due to her “receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House today, which is probably the coolest reason to miss a match tbh.”
Although the U.S.’s business as it relates to the World Cup is over for this tournament, there’s one more big prize at stake: a berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
If the U.S. were to win the Concacaf W Championship—which isn’t assured, since reigning Olympic gold medalist Canada is among the contenders—it would snag the automatic berth for Paris. If the U.S. finishes second or third in the Concacaf tournament, it will face a playoff to get into the Olympics in September 2023.
The degree of difficulty for the Olympics is so much greater because of the scarcity of spots—just 12 women’s teams will make it to Paris. The 2023 Women’s World Cup, conversely, is expanding to 32 teams from 24 in the last edition.
The U.S. is aiming to win an unprecedented third consecutive Women’s World Cup and fifth overall. The Americans have finished among the top three each time—and have won four titles.
Since their last World Cup title—France in 2019—the U.S. women secured a financial triumph. After years of fighting for better pay and a three-year sex-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the U.S. women in May finalized a collective-bargaining agreement that gives them equal pay with the U.S. men’s team.
Mallory Pugh and Jamaica’s Allyson Swaby vie for the ball.PHOTO: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Under the separate labor agreements that run concurrently, the U.S. men and U.S. women also agreed to pool and split prize money from their respective World Cups. That’s believed to be a first-in-the-world step, and helps mitigate a gap of tens of millions of dollars between men’s and women’s World Cup prize pools.
The U.S. women’s 2019 title came with a $4 million prize; in the 2018 men’s tournament, the winner got $38 million and teams were paid $8 million just for qualifying.
The current U.S. women’s squad features a blend of deeply experienced players such as Morgan and defender Becky Sauerbrunn, along with newcomers like Smith and Rodman.
Smith has been on a tear, scoring seven goals this year to lead the U.S. team. On her first goal Thursday, she raced toward Jamaica’s goal, tipping the ball around the front of her defender then continuing her run. With the outside of her right foot, she then booted it into the far corner.
Write to Rachel Bachman at Rachel.Bachman@wsj.com