By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Sports Writer
MONTERREY, Mexico — Alex Morgan converted on a penalty shot in the 78th minute and the U.S. national team edged Canada, 1-0, to win the CONCACAF W Championship on Monday night to secure one of the region’s spots in the 2024 Olympics.
As FIFA President Gianni Infantino watched from a private box, the United States finally broke a stalemate when Rose Lavelle was fouled in the box and Morgan fooled Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan on the penalty. It was Morgan’s 118th overall career goal.
“It always feels good to be called champions, so this game just feels good to us,” Morgan said after the match. “Canada gave us a run for our money, but we prevailed and we feel good about it.”
Jamaica defeated Costa Rica, 1-0, in overtime earlier Monday in the third-place match.
The four semifinalists all earlier earned spots in the 2023 World Cup next summer in Australia and New Zealand. Runner-up Canada will play Jamaica in a playoff for the region’s other Olympic bid in September 2023.
The United States is now 60-1-1 in World Cup or Olympic qualifying matches, having won 33 straight since losing to Mexico, 2-1, in advance of the 2011 World Cup.
“I wasn’t with the team the last eight months,” added Morgan, a Diamond Bar High product. “So I could just focus on San Diego and that helped me mentally and physically and then coming back to the team my role just increased and that felt good.
“I feel good overall, I’m happy, healthy and confident and feel like I can contribute exactly what is being asked of me. So I’m in very good form right now.”
The game was a rematch of the Olympic semifinal a year ago in Tokyo. Canada edged the United States, 1-0, on a late penalty kick to advance to the final, its first victory over the Americans in 20 years.
The Canadians went on to win the gold medal in a penalty shootout with Sweden. The U.S. team finished with the bronze.
Alyssa Naeher was in goal for the United States instead of Casey Murphy, who started the last game at the tournament. Defender Emily Fox also returned to the lineup from COVID-19 protocol.
Temperatures hovered in the low 90s at the start of the match at Estadio BBVA. Sheridan had a big save in the 31st minute when Mallory Pugh made a break down the right side and took a hard shot at the goal.
She made another in the 45th, with an assist from teammate Kadeisha Buchanan, on Sophia Smith’s scramble to score at the goal line. Smith had another chance in the 64th, but it went wide.
Canada had a flurry of late opportunities, including a header from Jordyn Huitema that went wide.
Kalyssa van Zanten scored in the 102nd minute to give Jamaica the edge in the earlier game. Van Zanten, who plays for Notre Dame, came into the game as a substitute in the 99th minute and scored on a well-placed pass from Drew Spence.
“I talked to her before she goes in and told her there’s a goal in those boots and she nodded to me and it gave her some confidence,” said Jamaica coach Lorne Donaldson, who just took over the Reggae Girlz early last month amid upheaval.
Costa Rica had perhaps the best opportunity in the first half when Melissa Herrera faced Jamaica goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer alone, but her shot when wide left.
Rocky Rodriguez, who plays for the Portland Thorns in the National Womenvs Soccer League, hit the post with a shot in stoppage time, and the game went to overtime.
Costa Rica fell to the United States, 3-0, in the semifinals, while Jamaica lost to Canada, 3-0. Jamaica and Costa Rica have each been to the World Cup once before.
The United States has been to every World Cup since the tournament started in 1991. The Americans have four titles, including the last two in 2015 and 2019.
More to come on this story.