CHICAGO (Oct. 16) - Focused on earning a berth to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup set to be hosted in Canada next summer, the U.S. Women’s National Team played its first qualifying match in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship – at the end of which, the top three teams automatically qualify for the World Cup – with a 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.
U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis acknowledged her team’s difficulty in the breaking down its opponent, but took the positive of opening tournament play with a win.
“Obviously, pleased that we got three points,” Ellis said after the match. “Credit to Trinidad, we don’t often see teams that sit as organized and put so many numbers behind the ball, so for us it was an excellent challenge. Defensively, we gave up some big mistakes, but for us right now, it literally is about regrouping and getting ready for Friday.”
The USA’s lone goal came in the 54th minute after forward Alex Morgan broke out on the left side of the box, was able to get past the goalkeeper, and sent a beauty of a pass to Abby Wambach, who knocked a header into the net to give the USA the advantage and eventual victory. The goal was the 171st of Wambach’s career with the National Team.
Morgan was happy to nab the win, but disappointed that the USA’s performance did not live up to its standards.
“It was obviously great to get that goal and that was the game winner at the end of the day, but we should have done better,” said Morgan. “It was hard to play them, and I think we can move on from this game because no one is satisfied with the game that we just played. “
With her side only able to manage a solitary goal, Wambach praised goalkeeper Kimika Forbes for keeping Trinidad and Tobago in the match.
“She had a fantastic game, kept them in the game to the end,” noted the USA’s all-time leading goal scorer, who had numerous attempts on goal foiled by Forbes.
In addition, she echoed Morgan’s comments that the USA could have played better.
“Today was about execution, period. Every single player, all of us in the dressing room right now, we’re embarrassed because that’s not the way we want to play soccer, that’s not our style and the soccer we want to play,” Wambach said. “The reality is sometimes you’re going to play against teams that are going to bunker in; sometimes you’re going to play against teams that pose problems for you and make it hard for you to play your style of soccer. For us, we want to get back to what we do well, and those things will come in the upcoming games I’m sure. We have to fix the problems, fix the issues that made it so difficult for us to score goals.”
U.S. attacker Megan Rapinoe, also praised Forbes and Trinidad and Tobago’s resiliency.
“Credit to them,” said Rapinoe of Trinidad and Tobago’s game plan that largely stymied a potent U.S. attack. “I think their defense and obviously their keeper - she played really good. She had a few really good saves that would have been goals maybe on another day, so credit to them. But we got one and that was enough for today. “
The U.S. WNT will continue its road to the 2015 FIFA World Cup on Friday, Oct. 17, against Guatemala in its second game of Group A play at 8 p.m. CT at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.