The CONCACAF Women’s Olympic football (soccer) qualifier has wrapped up in California and the only 2 tickets for the region have been claimed. Only 12 teams can book a trip to the Olympics in women’s football while 16 teams in Men’s. It is no surprise that the world champions US and Canada were the teams in the final match on Sunday February 9th. The US has owned the podium for the last 4 appearances consecutively and Canada has been the runners up. The 8 teams tournament was divided into 2 groups of four from the North (Canada, US and Mexico), Central (Costa Rica and Panama) and Caribbean (Jamaica, Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis) region, each team having to qualify in their own respective soccer unions.
The tournament’s group stage was held in 2 cities in Texas with group A competing in Houston and group B in Edinburg Texas. Group B which had Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and St Kits and Nevis was located in Edinburg while group A consisting of the world Champions US, Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama. The top 2 teams from each group would compete in the semis to gain a birth in the finals that automatically guaranteed an Olympic birth would move over to Carson California. The semifinals format was dictated by the way the teams finished in their groups, 1st & 2nd facing off with each other respectively.
The US coming off a back-to-back world cup championship title demonstrated their superiority on the field. In their group stage their dominance was asserted with an impressive 18 goals, and not surprising very silent goalposts with a shout-out that would be carried onto the final. While Canada finished their impressive group stage with 22 goals, also conceiving a shut-out, only receiving 3 goals in the final. In this tournament a world record was broken by Canada’s Christine Sinclair who became the first player both in women’s and men’s to reach 186 international goals in 293 matches surpassing Abby Wambach’s record of 184. Canada’s group stage performance was acceptable and reminiscent of past team performances with great execution, ball dribble and attack while the semifinal against Costa Rica was a much more hard fought battle. They were held to a 1-0 victory, which only came on the 72nd minute on a tip in, by Jordyn Huitema. The Canadians are looking to Tokyo to guarantee a podium performance for the 3rd straight time.