As previously written here at Tar Heel Blog, three former UNC soccer players are in the US women’s national team roster as they try to qualify for next summer’s World Cup.
Flash forward a week later, and the USWNT are one win away from clinching a World Cup spot, and the former Tar Heels have again been in on the action.
Following a 6-0 over Mexico, who were thought to be among some of the USWNT’s biggest competition in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the US rested several players ahead of their second match against Panama. That led to two of the former Heels, Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath, starting on the bench. However, the third Tar Heel, Ashlyn Harris, was given the start in goal.
While she didn’t exactly have a lot to do, Harris kept Panama off the board as the US won 5-0. Panama got just three shots off, and got only two on target, neither found the back of the net.
Neither Dunn or Harris were needed in the Panama win, but both were in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against Trinidad & Tobago, while Harris returned to the backup goalkeeper spot.
The US took an early lead before breaking open the game late in the first half and cruising to a 7-0 win. Dunn and Heath each scored a goal in the game, while Heath provided an assist for two others.
All the USWNT need to do to officially qualify for the World Cup is win their next match, which will be decided Thursday night, but will likely be against either Costa Rica or Jamiaca. (It’s still technically possible they play either Canada or Cuba, but either would take some crazy results to swing the tiebreakers.)
The US will be massive favorites no matter who they play, but should something unforeseen happen, they would have a second chance. The top three in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship automatically qualify for the World Cup, so even a loss in their next match still leaves them with a shot at third place. Even a loss in the third place match wouldn’t eliminate the US as fourth place takes on Argentina for the last spot in France next summer.
The USWNT and the three former Tar Heels are back in action Sunday night at 8 PM ET. If you want to cheer on the UNC alumns, the game will be on Fox Sports 1.