Lloyd’s hattrick fuels US women’s team’s rout of Panama

Carli Lloyd has scored 105 international goals. (AFP pic)

CARY: Carli Lloyd scored three goals for the US women’s national team in a 5-0 rout of Panama in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier on Sunday in Cary, North Carolina, all but ensuring her team’s advancement to the semifinals.

The US have won the first two of three matches in group play by a combined score of 11-0, having beaten Mexico 6-0 on Thursday. Even if the Americans lose their final match on Wednesday vs. Trinidad and Tobago, they likely would win Group A because of an insurmountable goal difference.

Trinidad and Tobago were due to play against Mexico later on Sunday.

The top two finishers from the each of the two groups after round-robin play will advance to the semifinals in Frisco, Texas. The semifinal winners automatically advance to the World Cup next summer in France. The winner of the third-place game also qualifies for the World Cup, while the team that finishes fourth will face Argentina in a playoff for another World Cup berth.

The US’ depth was on display against a young Panamanian team that played eight teenagers including 18-year-old goalkeeper Yenith Bailey. She made eight saves in the first half despite allowing four goals.

US coach Jill Ellis made nine changes from the Mexico match with midfielder Julie Ertz and defender Abby Dahlkemper as the only holdovers.

It didn’t matter as Lloyd scored in the 23rd, 29th, and 48th minutes to give her 105 international goals.

Samantha Mewis opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a header off a corner kick by Christen Press. Lloyd made it 2-0 in the same manner with Press getting another assist. After Lloyd made it 3-0, Press scored on a breakaway in the 32nd minute.