Forward Alex Morgan (L) beat goalie Kailen Sheridan in the 78th minute to lead the United States Women's National Team to a win over Canada in the CONCACAF W Championship on Monday in Guadalupe, Mexico. Photo by Miguel Sierra/EPA-EFE
July 19 (UPI) -- Forward Alex Morgan buried a late penalty kick to lead the United States Women's National Team to a narrow win over Canada in the CONCACAF W Championship match, securing the Americans' spot in the 2024 Summer Games.
Morgan's 78th minute score was just enough to lead the Americans to the 1-0 shutout Monday at Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe, Mexico.
The Americans outshot the Canadians 17-11, but held just a 6-5 advantage in shots on target. American goalie Alyssa Naeher and her counterpart Kailen Sheridan recorded five saves apiece.
"We worked on a lot of things this week: how to break them down and how to play quick," Morgan said in an on-field interview. "It kind of all started from a throw-in. ... I just finished it off."
The Americans and Canadians each came close to first-blood scores early on in the first half. Sheridan blocked two attempts from Mallory Pugh. The American forward hit another shot just wide. Morgan and midfielder Lindsey Horan also watched attempts sail just wide of the post.
Young forward Sophia Smith nearly snuck in a near-post attempt and also was denied by Sheridan on a close-range shot in the first half.
Forward Nichelle Prince threatened several times for the Canadians, but came up empty. Several more close calls came to start the second half.
Morgan sent a pass up to right wing Rose Lavelle to spark the decisive penalty. Lavelle ran into the box to track down the feed, but was brought down by Canadian defender Allysha Chapman.
Morgan then stepped up to the penalty spot and ripped a left-footed shot into the right side of the net, as Sheridan jumped to the opposite side of the goal.
Both teams were denied on additional chances down the stretch. The final whistle then prompted a trophy celebration for the Americans at midfield.
The U.S. women also shut out Costa Rica 3-0 in the semifinals. They haven't allowed a goal in their last eight matches.
The 2024 Summer Games will start July 26, 2024 in Paris. Canada claimed the last gold medal with a title game win over Sweden in the 2020 Summer Games. The Canadians beat the Americans in the semifinals of that tournament.
The Americans, who won the last two World Cup titles, beat Jamaica July 7 to clinch a spot in the 2023 World Cup. They will start their quest for a third-consecutive and fifth overall crown next July at that tournament, which will be hosted in Australia and New Zealand.
The Americans own an overall combined record of 60-1-1 in World Cup and Olympic qualifiers. They will face Nigeria in a friendly at 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 3 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
"This is just another step forward," Morgan said. "Now we've qualified for the Olympics, we've qualified for the World Cup. We have some more big games, but we're happy to get this win."