FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Carli Lloyd scored off a rebound of her own penalty kick in the 86th minute and the United States beat Mexico 1-0 on Saturday to clinch a spot in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying semifinals.
Lloyd’s penalty shot, following a Mexico hand ball in the penalty area, went to the middle of the goal and was blocked by Cecilia Santiago. Lloyd buried the rebound, with Santiago still on the ground for her 84th career goal.
The winners of the semifinals — set for Houston on Feb. 19 — will qualify for the Rio Olympics.
The Americans will conclude group play Monday night against Puerto Rico. The other match Monday between Mexico and Costa Rica will determine Group A’s other semifinalist. Costa Rica won the opener Saturday at Toyota Stadium, beating Puerto Rico 9-0.
The United States remained unbeaten CONCACAF qualifying play at 15-0-1, having scored 81 goals and allowing four.
Mexico nearly tied it a minute after Lloyd goal when Monica Ocampo’s left-footed shot from outside the 18-yard box was batted over the crossbar by Hope Solo to preserve her 93rd career shutout.
The tournament is the Americans’ first competitive play since winning last summer’s World Cup in Canada. They have won three straight Olympic titles and four of the five in women’s soccer.
This U.S. roster features only 13 of the 20 players who were on the World Cup team. Christie Rampone and Megan Rapinoe are injured, and Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux are pregnant and will miss the Olympics.
The Americans dominated possession during the scoreless first half, taking all five shots and all five corner kicks against a Mexican side that kept five players across its back line. Their best scoring chance came in the 16th minute when a corner by Morgan Brian made it in to goalkeeper Cecelia Santiago, who couldn’t maintain control. Julie Johnston tried to score on the rebound but shot wide.
Lloyd had a free kick from about 35 yards out in the 44th minute and shot just wide of the near post.
The United States had two second-half opportunities strike the post — Christen Press in the 52nd minute and Lindsey Horan in the 76th minute.
Alex Morgan had two scoring chances from close range that went over the crossbar midway through the second half with a left-footed shot in the 67th minute and a header two minutes.