U.S. women win Cup qualifying opener
CANCUN, Mexico -- After beating Haiti 5-0 in the opening qualifier for next year's Women's World Cup, U.S. players went to the Haitians' locker room.
The Americans gave them clothes, cleats and other soccer gear, and Abby Wambach spoke to the opponents, saying the U.S. team wanted to show support for a nation still trying to rebuild from an earthquake in January that killed as many as 300,000 people.
"We wanted them to know that we were thinking of them and we wished them good luck in the rest of the tournament," Wambach said.
Wambach had the sixth hat trick of her international career Thursday, helping the 1991 and 1999 champions get off to a quick start.
Defender Rachel Buehler put the U.S. ahead in the 8th minute, scoring her first international goal in her 43rd appearance. Wambach scored in the 15th minute, added a goal in first-half injury time and scored her third goal in the 62nd, raising her career total for the United States to 112.
Amy Rodriguez, making her 50th appearance, scored her ninth career goal in the 40th minute off a pass from Wambach.
"We could have possessed the ball better, but it's the start of the tournament so I understand that sometimes the team is a little uncomfortable because they haven't played together that much and sometimes the attack broke down a little too early," American coach Pia Sundhage said. "But five good goals and a win, I'll take that any day."
Nicole Barnhart got the shutout for the U.S., which completes the first round against Guatemala on Saturday and Costa Rica on Monday.
In the night's other Group B game, Costa Rica beat Guatemala 1-0.
Group A opens Friday, when Trinidad and Tobago plays Canada and Mexico faces Guyana.
The top two teams in each group advance, and the semifinal winners qualify for next year's tournament in Germany. The third-place squad meets Italy, the No. 5 team in Europe, for another berth.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press