Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 21 News List

US women earn World Cup finals place with 2-0 win

AP , CARSON, CALIFORNIA

Abby Wambach scored twice as the US beat Mexico 2-0 in their CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday to earn a berth in next year's World Cup and extend their unbeaten streak to 31 games.

Canada beat Jamaica 4-0 in the opening semifinal to book their World Cup spot.

The 26-year-old Wambach, notching her 66th goal in 83 appearances for the national team, gave the US a two-goal cushion when she scored with a spectacular glancing header in the 64th minute.

Near post nod

Kristine Lilly took the ball away from Elizabeth Patrica Gomez, dribbled down the left and curled a left-footed pass toward the box. Wambach, just outside the near post, flicked her head to redirect the ball, and it looped over goalkeeper Sophia Perez and into the net.

Lilly also started the scoring sequence for the first goal with a pass from the top of the box to Carli Lloyd on the right side. Lloyd drove a shot that Perez dived to catch, but the ball slipped through her grasp. As she tried to reach and retrieve it, Wambach slotted the ball home.

Along with locking up a spot in next September's World Cup in China, the US women set a national record for the longest unbeaten streak.

Winning streak

The 26-0-5 string is the longest in the 21-year history of the women's national team. The streak began with a 5-0 victory over Mexico on Dec. 8, 2004, the final game for US stalwarts Mia Ham and Julie Foudy.

The other 30-game unbeaten streak was from Feb. 10, 1996, to Oct. 9, 1997.

The US and Canada each received byes into the Gold Cup semifinals, which served as the regional qualifier for the World Cup. They will meet for the Gold Cup title on Sunday in Carson.

Mexico and Jamaica play in the third-place game, and the winner of that match will face Japan later in a two-match series for the final World Cup spot.

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