The U.S. team once again practiced indoors at BC Place (with the weather so far in Vancouver, trust us when we say outdoors would not be too much fun), this time in preparation for its final Group B match vs. Mexico. The CONCACAF neighbors will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT. Fans can watch the game live on Universal Sports Network, Universalsports.com and CONCACAF.com.
The USA needs a win or a tie to win the group and earn a spot in the semifinal against Costa Rica, which fell 5-1 to Canada today to finish in second place in Group A. The winners of the semifinal matches earn berths to the 2012 London Olympics.
The USA has scored 27 goals so far in the tournament and here is the breakdown of the goals and assists leaders:
· Goals: Amy Rodriguez (6); Sydney Leroux (5); Abby Wambach (4); Heather O’Reilly (3); Lauren Cheney and Carli Lloyd (2 each); Rachel Buehler, Tobin Heath, Lori Lindsey, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe (1 each)
· Assists: Lauren Cheney (5); Alex Morgan (4); Kelley O’Hara, Heather O’Reilly, Amy Rodriguez and Abby Wambach (3 each); Ali Krieger, Carli Lloyd, Heather Mitts and Megan Rapinoe (1 each)
Of course the goals won't be nearly as easy to come by against the Mexicans, who have played three one-goal games with the USA in the last three meetings. One of those matches was the 2-1 victory for Mexico in the semifinals of 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying that forced the USA into a two-game playoff against Italy to earn its berth to Germany. It was Mexico's first-ever win over the USA.
The entire U.S. team is expecting a tough match from Mexico, which features numerous Mexican-American players as well as Mexico's all-time greatest player Maribel "Marigol" Dominguez.
The USA out-shot Mexico 34-4 in the last meeting right before the 2011 Women's World Cup, but a fantastic performance from teenage goalkeeper Aurora Santiago kept the USA off the board until stoppage time when Lauren Cheney pounded a shot from outside into the upper left corner.