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Abby Wambach Leads Team USA To Group Title

By Amy Rosewater | Oct. 20, 2014, 11:29 p.m. (ET)

Abby Wambach stands on the field prior to playing Mexico at Sahlen's Stadium on Sept. 18, 2014 in Rochester, New York.

Abby Wambach scores a goal in the first half of a game against Haiti during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship at RFK Stadium on Oct. 20, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  Although it was mathematically possible for the U.S. women’s soccer team not to emerge as the group winners in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship — the qualifying tournament for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup — Team USA made sure there was no need to break out a calculator.

Team USA opened the scoring early, with a goal by Carli Lloyd in the ninth minute, and never surrendered the lead for a 6-0 victory against Haiti, a team that has never made a World Cup appearance. Team USA now owns a 90-game unbeaten streak at home (79-0-11), a run that dates back to Nov. 6, 2004.

Playing without star goalkeeper Hope Solo, who got the night off to give backup Ashlyn Harris some international experience, and forward Alex Morgan, who suffered an ankle injury Friday night, Team USA still had no problems tackling Haiti. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach scored twice and now has 173 career goals — 15 more than Mia Hamm had in her storied career — and the team also got goals from Lloyd, Meghan Klingenberg, Christen Press and Morgan Brian.

The win means Team USA won its group (A) and will face either Mexico or Jamaica in the semifinals Friday at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, and is now one step closer to securing a berth to the World Cup. The top three teams from the CONCACAF tournament automatically qualify for the World Cup. Canada, as the upcoming World Cup host, earned an automatic berth and is not playing in this tournament.

“We are amateur part-timers competing against full-time pros,” Haiti coach Shek Borkowski said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the world for a reason.”

The game Monday night marked Team USA’s third in as many cities. The team opened the tournament with a win against Trinidad and Tobago in Kansas City, Kansas, and then traveled to Chicago for a victory against Guatemala before playing Haiti in the nation’s capital in RFK Stadium.

Although the Americans were huge favorites in this game, the team was missing two of its biggest stars. In a pregame decision, U.S. Soccer decided to sit Solo to give Harris, who turned 29 Sunday, some international playing experience. Harris, who plays for the Washington Spirit and was a former collegiate star at North Carolina, entered the match with just three caps. She did not face a single shot on goal. 

Meanwhile, Morgan, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, suffered a left ankle sprain Friday against Guatemala and will be sidelined for four to six weeks.

Still, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said the team had an “inner confidence” and enough firepower to wear down a much less funded and less organized Haitian program.

Veterans Lloyd and Wambach each scored in the first half. Meghan Klingenberg put the team ahead, 3-0, in the second half on a beautiful long shot that she sent to the upper corner of the net, and Wambach scored a second goal. Press added a fifth goal in the 64th minute.

“It’s confidence really at this point,” Ellis said. “Our big stat tonight is not conceding a goal.” 

Wambach said it was important for her and her teammates not to get too high or too low after games like these, especially since they know down the road they will face much stiffer competition. 

“It’s really important that we keep challenging ourselves, no matter who we’re playing,” Wambach said. 

Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. She has covered five Olympic Games and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.

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