It’s been a good couple of days for the Portland Thorns’ international players in Concacaf, who on Thursday and Friday secured their spots for the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
This second day of action was important for their World Cup hopes, after the wins the USWNT, Canada, and Costa Rica got in their first matches.
USWNT vs Jamaica
Sophia Smith got her second start on the competition while Becky Sauerbrunn got to rest. And again, the young forward showed why she’s one of the most exciting players to watch nowadays.
Both teams were coming off of wins in their first games. Nonetheless, the USA showed why they are the number one ranked team in the world right now. The final result was 5-0 — and it was Sophia Smith who led the charge, as she opened the scoring with a world-class goal, which was the fastest scored by any player thus far in the Concacaf W Championship (fifth minute).
She would end up playing 45 minutes and scoring a brace again, which marked her sixth and seventh goals of the year, as well as her third career multi-goal game. She now has eight goals for her career and leads the USA with seven goals in 2022.
With that win (and Haiti winning against Mexico), the current world champions are going to Australia/New Zealand next year to defend their title.
Canada vs Panama
After the goal-fest the Canadians had in their debut against Trinidad & Tobago, they had to face Panama.
Desperate for points, the Canaleras’ game plan was at least to get a draw against the Olympic champions. To achieve this, they were very disciplined on defense and held Canada scoreless at the end of the first 45 minutes.
Sinclair got to start and played only one half — but in those 45 minutes, she made 18 passes, had 77.8% passing accuracy (76.5% in the opponent’s half), won 3 duels, created 1 chance, had 1 blocked shot, registered 2 tackles, and won 1 foul.
Janine Beckie played 90 minutes and registered 41 passes, 70.7% passing accuracy (60.9% in the opponent’s half), 5 duels won, 6 successful crosses, 2 chances created, 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 fouls won.
The lone goal of the match came in the second half through Julia Grosso and with that, Canada secured their ticket to the world cup.
AUS/NZ 2023 will be the sixth world cup for Christine Sinclair and the second for Janine Beckie.
Costa Rica vs Trinidad & Tobago
The Ticas wanted to go back to the world cup after missing the 2019 edition of the competition. Rocky Rodríguez and the Costa Rican squad got what they wanted after a 4-0 win.
Rocky didn’t score this time — but after 62 minutes, she registered 35 passes, 80% accuracy (71.4% in the opponent's half), 5 duels won, 2 aerial duels won, 1 chance created, 2 tackles, and 1 foul won.
With this win, Costa Rica will be back in a world cup after eight years, and it’s going to be the second world cup for Rocky Rodríguez.
Natu Kuikka debuts in the Euros with Finland against Spain
After missing the last friendly against the Netherlands due to a bacterial infection, Natu was cleared to travel with her national team and to join training late Wednesday afternoon. Because of this, she couldn’t start against one of the favorites of the competition: Spain.
Despite Finland’s great start — with Linda Sällström scoring at the 50th second — Spain turned things around by the end of the first half. Kuikka entered the match in the second half, at a crucial point in the game, when the score was 2-1.
Despite the defensive efforts, Spain showed why it’s one of the favorites to win the competition, ending the game with a 4-1 result.
Natu played 28 minutes and registered 12 passes, 66.7% passing accuracy (100% in the opponent’s half), 1 duel won, 1 tackle, and 1 clearance.
Helmarit’s next match will be against Denmark, which also lost on its debut.
All stats are from Opta.