USWNT_2014CONCACAFchampions
USA TODAY Sports Images

United States, Nigeria win regional tournaments en route to 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification

Twenty-one nations have secured their spot in Canada for the 2015 Women's World Cup, and four of those teams carry at least one member of the Houston Dash.

The United States rolled through the CONCACAF Women's Championship with a perfect record, outscoring their opponents 21-0. Dash teammates Carli Lloyd and Meghan Klingenberg were two of four players for the U.S. that started all five matches in the tournament. Lloyd claimed the Golden Ball as the tournament's top player as she tallied five goals and four assists, while Klingenberg scored her first international goal in style against Haiti on Oct. 20.

This is the seventh CONCACAF Championship for the United States, who have appeared in all six previous World Cups since the tournament's inception in 1991.

Mexico, with Dash players Arianna Romero and Teresa Noyola, had a slightly nervier path to qualification. The team lost 3-0 to the U.S. in the semifinal round, meaning they needed a win in the third place match against Trinidad & Tobago to guarantee qualification. Mexico, sitting on a 1-0 halftime lead, surrendered goals in the 57th and 78th minutes to put them behind the eight ball. Monica Ocampo, however, responded less than a minute after Trinidad's second goal with one of her own to put the teams level and through to extra time, where Veronica Corral scored twice to secure the win and a spot in Canada for the Mexicans. Noyola started the third place match, her fourth appearance and third start, while Romero made three appearances (two starts) across the tournament.

Mexico will only be making their third appearance at the World Cup after two first round showings in 1999 and 2011.

Osinachi Ohale and Nigeria also wrapped up a regional championship along with World Cup qualification last week, as the Super Falcons defeated Cameroon 2-0 for their seventh African Women's Championship. Ohale started all three matches in the group stage, scoring a goal, and made a substitute appearance in the final. Nigeria joins the United States, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Japan and Brazil as the only nations to have qualified for all seven World Cup finals.

Next year's host, Canada, has an automatic bid for the tournament but has kept sharp with a series of friendlies, most recently against reigning World Cup champs Japan. Erin McLeod and Kaylyn Kyle both started in a 3-0 loss last Saturday, but will have another shot tonight in a friendly match at 9 p.m. CT.

One more team with Dash connections still has a chance to secure a spot in Canada. Trinidad & Tobago, led by head coach Randy Waldrum, narrowly missed out on an automatic bid in their loss to Mexico but still have a shot in a two game playoff against Ecuador. The first leg takes place on Nov. 8 in Quito, with the return match on Dec. 2 in Trinidad. If Waldrum can lead the Soca Princesses to their first-ever World Cup, it will also be the first appearance by a Carribean nation.

Topics: