VANCOUVER — Canada’s women’s soccer team still needs some work to do before it can share a pitch with the best team in the world.
Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan scored two goals apiece to lead the top-ranked United States to a 4-0 victory over Canada in the CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament final Sunday.
“I apologize for not doing what we could have done tonight,” said Canadian squad coach John Herdman. “There’s certainly more to this team.”
With the win, the United States also claimed the CONCACAF championship. Both teams had already qualified for the London Games, but the U.S. continued its mastery over seventh-ranked Canada. The Canadians have not beaten the Americans since March 2001, and the U.S. has 42-3-5 advantage in games between the teams dating back to 1986.
Canada’s winning streak ended at 10 games. The hosts had hoped to use the game as strong lead-in to the Olympics, but showed they have a considerable ways to go to better the Americans.
“It was one of them games where we started chasing shadows for a bit,” Herdman said. “There are some challenges there. We’ve got to look at ourselves first, the management team, and see what we can do better.”
Herdman shuffled his lineup because many of his players, tired after playing four games, “didn’t have the legs.” He said he picked the wrong lineup while U.S. counterpart Pia Sundhage picked the right one by going with “technicians” on her back line rather than physically dominant group.
Wambach’s goals were the 130th and 131st at the international level, giving her sole possession of second place in all-time scoring. Morgan assisted on both of Wambach’s goals while Wambach assisted on one of Morgan’s before a record sellout crowd of just over 25,427 at B.C. Place.
It was the highest ever for a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament game and the second-highest for a women’s game in Canada.
“We had the whole nation captivated,” Herdman said. “It was our chance to really bring it alive, and we just never did. We never really got into a rhythm. The Americans pressed us, and that’s a great learning for us.”
Wambach got the upper hand on Canadian captain Christine Sinclair after they both entered the game with a chance to move into second place in all-time scoring. Wambach was happy to score after her historic goals in the championship game after the U.S. was upset by Mexico in last year’s World Cup qualifying tournament and had to go in through back door.
“I think that those two goals were great goals for us, being that it’s in the CONCACAF finals,” said Wambach. “We didn’t win the last qualifying tournament, so this was a big game for us, and we’re really pleased with the result.”
Sundhage praised her defenders for holding Sinclair in check most of the night after she made a dangerous run just before the first U.S. goal.
“I don’t think she had many touches or really had open time and space to do her thing,” said Canadian defender Carmelina Moscato, adding the back line has to be able to get her the ball more often.
The U.S. had 22 scoring attempts with 13 on target while Canada had just eight attempts with six on target. The Americans also had eight corner kicks, compared to just one for Canada.
Christina Julien had three of Canada’s scoring chances, but was robbed twice in the first half and once more in the second by American goalkeeper Hope Solo, who recorded her fifth consecutive shutout.
The U.S. outscored its opponents 38-0 in the tournament.
The Canadians said Morgan’s early opening goal ultimately led to the hosts’ undoing. Wambach headed a long ball towards the net and Morgan raced in on goal, and outmuscled pursuing Canadian defender Candace Chapman, sending her down to the turf. Morgan finished with a low shot inside the post.
“It took the momentum out of everything, and I think it took the wind out of the crowd as well,” said Canadian striker Melissa Tancredi. “I think after the second goal I could hear a pin drop.”
Wambach headed in Morgan’s cross in the 24th minute, colliding with Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod at the same time. The goal was the 130th of Wambach’s international career, moving her into a tie for second place in all-time scoring with retired American star Kristiane Lilly.
Four minutes later, Wambach gained outright possession of second in all-time scoring as she gave the put in Morgan’s short pass following a rebound off the post. Wambach said Lilly urged her via e-mail to go and ahead and surpass her for second, but make sure not to make the decisive goal a “toe-poke.”
Wambach said she was just so focused on the game that she forgot about the chance to move past Lilly until Morgan reminded her about it at half time.
Morgan scored her second goal in the 56th minute as she took a long pass from Lauren Cheney, then eluded McLeod and Canadian defenders before putting in a turnaround shot.
Herdman said his club has to get better physically, mentally and tactically.
“Give us another six months and we’ll make sure we’re ready for London,” he said.
Note: U.S. striker Sydney Leroux, a Surrey, B.C., native who holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship and has been criticized for choosing to play for the American side, was jeered as she came on as a sub in the second half. … Lauren Sesselmann, a Green Bay, Wis., native, who lives in the U.S. and also holds dual citizenship, played for Canada. … The attendance was almost 3,000 fans higher than the crowd that saw Canada clinch an Olympic berth with a win over Mexico on Friday.