Wambach scores 3 goals to lead US over Haiti 5-0

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,

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.