HOUSTON (AP) — Alex Morgan scored three goals and the United States secured a spot in the Olympics this summer with a 5-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Friday night in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
The World Cup champions, ranked No. 1 world, will seek their fourth straight Olympic gold medal and fifth overall.
There were two Olympic berths up for grabs in the North and Central America and Caribbean region. Canada secured the other spot in Brazil with a 3-1 semifinal victory over Costa Rica in the earlier match Friday at BBVA Compass Stadium.
It is the third straight trip to the Olympics for the 11th-ranked Canadians, who will face the United States on Sunday in the tournament’s final match.
The Americans went 3-0 with a 16-0 goal difference in the group stage of the eight-team qualification tournament.
They capped the first round with a 10-0 rout of Puerto Rico led by a team record-tying five goals from Crystal Dunn, the last player cut from the roster that won the World Cup last summer in Canada.
The Americans have never lost a CONCACAF Olympic qualifier, going 17-0-1, and they’ve outscored opponents 96-4.
It is the first time T&T has made the semifinals in qualifying.
Coach Jill Ellis tinkered with the lineup a bit for the match, sitting Dunn and Ali Krieger, who had both logged a lot of minutes in the tournament.
Overall, Ellis is working with a younger roster than the one that won the World Cup last summer in Canada.
Several players, including Abby Wambach and Lauren Holiday, have retired. Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux are expecting and won’t be available for the Olympics. Megan Rapinoe is recovering from knee surgery.
The youngest on the team is 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, headed to UCLA next season. Pugh got an assist on the Tobin Heath’s opening goal of the match in the 12th minute.
It was Heath’s first goal since she scored in the 5-2 World Cup final victory over Japan.
Morgan scored her first in the 30th minute off a header from another national team newcomer, 21-year-old Lindsey Horan. Horan skipped college to play professionally in France but will play this season for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.
Carli Lloyd, playing on the home field of her NWSL team, the Houston Dash, scored on a header in the 43rd minute for her 23rd goal in the team’s last 18 games. Lloyd has 86 goals for her career.
Morgan added her second in the 71st minute and claimed the hat trick with a goal two minutes later. It was her third career three-goal game.
Trinidad earned a spot in the semifinal by finishing second in its group with wins over Guyana and Guatemala. The last time the team faced the United States was in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the World Cup in 2014. The United States won 1-0.