What do you call a soccer team that wins three games out of three by a total score of 16-0?
When it’s the United States women’s soccer team in Olympic qualifying, you could almost call them underachievers.
A potent American team led by the stars of last year’s World Cup, like Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd, opened with a 5-0 win over Costa Rica in Frisco, Tex., last week. But there were nervous moments in Game 2 on Saturday against an extremely defensive Mexico until Lloyd scored a rebound off a missed penalty in the 80th minute for a 1-0 victory.
“Today’s game was interesting,” Solo said. “And that’s what qualifying games should be.”
The Americans’ third game, however, was not interesting, especially for goalkeeper Solo. The United States trounced Puerto Rico, 10-0, on Monday, outshooting it, 35-2. (And both of Puerto Rico’s shots were off target.) Crystal Dunn, 23, who did not make the World Cup team, scored five times for the Americans.
Nobody expected anything different from this qualifying tournament. In 2012, the results were even more lopsided, with the United States winning its group games, 14-0, 13-0 and 4-0. In the two preliminary games in 2008, the Americans’ total scoring margin was 9-1.
Canada, North America’s other women’s soccer power, has had a similar story in this year’s qualifying. It won its three games, 5-0, 6-0 and 10-0.
The gap between the United States and Canada and the rest of the teams in the North, Central American and Caribbean region, known as Concacaf, remains huge. The United States is the world’s No. 1 ranked team, and Canada is No. 11. No other team from the region is higher than 26th.
Four teams from Concacaf made the 2015 World Cup, with the United States winning and Canada advancing to the quarterfinals. The other two, Costa Rica and Mexico, were a combined 0-4-2 and outscored, 12-4.
With only 12 spots available worldwide, the Rio Olympics will admit only two teams from the region. It has always been a near certainty that those two would be the United States and Canada.
The United States has one more hurdle, a single elimination game against Trinidad and Tobago in Houston on Friday. The last time the teams played, in December, the Americans won, 6-0.
“It will be an honor to take the field against such a team,” a realistic Trinidad Coach Richard Hood told The Houston Chronicle. “We will try our best. I think that’s all we can do at this time.”
Canada faces Mexico in the other qualifying game on Friday. In the likely event of Canada and the United States advancing, they will play Sunday. The game will not matter to the Olympics, but it should provide the teams with their first truly competitive game of the tournament.