U.S. thumps Haiti in 1st CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifier group match
Costa Rica holds Group A lead through goal difference after defeating Panama 6-1
Christen Press scored the opening goal off a shoeless assist from Lynn Williams and the United States beat Haiti 4-0 on Tuesday in its opening match of the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament.
The U.S., which won the Women's World Cup last summer, extended its unbeaten streak to 24 straight games dating back to a loss to France a year ago.
Press' goal came in the second minute on a cross from Williams, who had lost her cleat in her run up the field. It was the 52nd international goal for Press.
Williams added a goal in the 67th minute on a header off a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe. Lindsey Horan came off the bench and scored on her first touch in the 73rd minute and Carli Lloyd capped it off with a stoppage-time goal.
It was the first competitive match for U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, who took over when Jill Ellis stepped down last year.
Lloyd made her 15th start in Olympic qualifying, passing Abby Wambach for most in team history. Rapinoe, the reigning Ballon d'Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year, played off the bench in the second half.
An announced crowd of 4,363 attended the game, which was hit in the first half by a sudden downpour at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The United States looked rusty at the start and Haiti appeared to tie the game with a goal in the 18th minute, but it was called back. Then the top-ranked Americans simply wore down their opponents in the second half.
Eight teams are playing in the tournament, with the title match set for Feb. 9 in Carson, Calif. The top two finishers will earn berths to the Tokyo Games this summer.
The United States and Haiti are in the same group with Costa Rica and Panama, who played in the early match Tuesday.
The U.S. has qualified for every Olympics since women's soccer was introduced in 1996. The team has five consecutive titles in the qualifying tournament.
Six teams have already made the field for Tokyo: Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand.
Haiti advanced to the tournament by winning its qualifying group in the Caribbean region.
Costa Rica downs Panama
Melissa Herrera and Priscilla Chinchilla each scored two goals and Costa Rica beat Panama 6-1 in Tuesday's first match.
Herrera caught Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey out of her net for the opening goal in the ninth minute. Raquel Rodriguez, who plays for the NWSL's Portland Thorns, converted a penalty kick in the 15th.
Katherine Castillo's goal for Panama in the 45th minute closed the gap to 2-1, but Shirley Cruz's volley off a corner kick in the 67th minute extended Costa Rica's lead.
Moments later, Chinchilla scored on a header and Herrera added her second goal of the match to put Costa Rica up 5-1. Chinchilla had the final goal in the 83rd minute.
The five-goal margin of victory gives Costa Rica a narrow one-goal edge over the United States for first place in Group A after one round.
Panama is making its first appearance in the qualifying tournament since 2004. Both teams won their groups in the Central America qualifiers.
Canada to kick off Wednesday
The eighth-ranked Canadian women's squad begins its Olympic qualification conquest with a showdown against No. 127 St. Kitts and Nevis at 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair, who currently sits at 183 career goals, is one strike away from tying American Abby Wambach for the women's world record.
With files from CBC Sports