Another dominant win for the U.S. women, another good showcase of depth and scoring from many players. Sunday's match against Guatemala was 6-0 at the half and 13-0 for the final tally (a real let up from the team's 14-0 win against the Dominican Republic on Friday -- yes, note the sarcasm).
The U.S. faces Mexico in its last group-stage match Tuesday, and frankly, I'm not sure I can handle another non-Mexico, non-Canada matchup in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.
Here are my five takeaways from Sunday's match and heading into the Americans' all-important Mexico matchup:
1. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Sydney Leroux
Sydney Leroux scored a hat trick within 12 minutes of her second-half appearance and five goals total on the night (in 45 minutes, I remind you). We've seen her score goals on the U-20 level, but my goodness. Even against a team of lesser ability like Guatemala, that is impressive. This is also just her second international cap. What a wonderful start to what many hope will be an equally wonderful career at the senior level. And she did it in her hometown of Vancouver, nonetheless (yes, hometown; her father is American ... more on that later this week when I arrive in Canada).
How can you not feel good after 14-0 and 13-0 drubbings? And the good news is complacency is not an option; the U.S. players remember all too well their loss against Mexico in the semifinals of the World Cup qualifier just 14 months ago. It almost cost them a trip to the Women's World Cup last summer.
I really like that U.S. women's coach Pia Sundhage is continuing to show confidence in her depth on the roster. This will pay huge dividends down the road, as it did at the Women's World Cup. Plus, it gives you fresh legs going into the last game of your group stage.
4. Stay present
It is all about Mexico now. They don't care how many goals you scored; beat them and the U.S. will likely avoid the Canada matchup in the semifinals. The top two teams qualify for the Olympics, so if you win the semifinal, you are in. In the end, as a player, you accept any matchup; but if I was asked if I'd rather play against Costa Rica or Canada (on home turf) in the semifinal, I would choose Costa Rica (minus if someone offered me a large donut to pick Canada).
5. Growth for the women's game
OK, this is not a U.S. takeaway, but more of just a personal rant. Can FIFA please do something to help push other CONCACAF teams along? I don't blame players from Guatemala or the Dominican Republic. The lack of funding, support and development is obvious. Enough said.
Well, not really (I've never been good at shutting up). It is so difficult to get any type of information on players from other countries in CONCACAF (this is a global problem for women's game, not just CONCACAF). Why can't FIFA, at a minimum, mandate that countries keep updated stats and caps, and have an active website where you could access information? It is incredibly hard to promote the women's game when you have no accessible information. There are only a few leagues to follow, and we don't have the superstars to watch on TV every week, so information is golden. It seems to be a reasonable request (and Monica Gonzalez has a few, too).
So, back to Sunday's game. Well done, USA; the team is right where it wants to be.