Cary, North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2018) — It was no surprise to see the U.S. Women’s National Team punch a ticket to the CONCACAF Women’s Championship playoff rounds.
The United States is a gifted team, but has an immeasurable amount of resources that other federations do not have. That explains blow-out victories, including the 5-0 blanking of Panama on Sunday.
USWNT Clinches Playoff Round Spot, Panama in Trouble
However, Panama, despite the scoreline, put on a performance.
The star of the game didn’t even come from the United States. Instead, Panama’s goalkeeper, 17-year-old Yenith Bailey, registered 12 saves against the United States attackers. She had acrobatic saves and ones that she made with her feet. Most of all, she showed dignity and class after the defeat.
Keep in mind, this is someone who is only 17 years old.
After the match, Bailey said that the delight from the public and her teammates was what she mainly took from the loss.
However, the tears shouldn’t last long. Panama is still in contention to advance to the playoff rounds. Right now, the team is in second place and could move on with a win or a draw against Mexico tonight.
Players from the United States team also raved about Bailey.
“[She was] very, very impressive,” Carli Lloyd said. “I think I went up to her a couple of times to tell her how well she was doing. She played a fantastic game and I hope that gives her lots of self-confidence.”
Lloyd scored her first hat-trick in almost three years against Bailey and Panama. Lloyd found the back of the net in the 23rd, 29th and 48th minutes. She was joined on the scoresheet by Samantha Mewis and Christen Press.
*DJ Khaled voice*
Another won. ✔️✔️
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) October 8, 2018
Ellis Makes Lineup Changes Due to Depth
The entire starting lineup changed except for two players.
Abby Dahlkemper remained on the pitch to start the match. However, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis made plenty of other switches. Lloyd started up top with Christen Press and Mallory Pugh.
In the midfield, Julie Ertz made her second-straight start in the tournament. She joined Mewis and Morgan Brian. On defense, Dahlkemper was joined by Hailie Mace — a stand-out at the University of California, Los Angeles — Emily Sonnett and Casey Short.
“The sole reason [we made changes] was to manage the tournament and make sure we have our depth gaining some experience,” Ellis said. “Knowing that there are hopefully five games to take care of, I’m pleased with the depth we have and I feel like the players came out and contributed like we knew we would.”
Meanwhile, Lloyd said the changes give the group confidence.
“It gives the group a lot of confidence knowing that we’ve got so much depth and when we are clicking, we can seriously be unstoppable,” Lloyd said. “It’s coming together collectively for everyone and it’s looking good.”
WCQ Group Stage Checklist:
Clinch a semifinal berth ✅
Win the group 🔲 pic.twitter.com/LNYmTJ013i
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) October 10, 2018