It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. The US defeated Colombia in Monday’s game by a score of 2-0, advancing them past the round of 16 and into the quarterfinals. Their next game will be against China on Friday, June 26. While China is no Germany or Japan, they obviously have some talent and could be a tough test against a struggling US offense that will be without two starters, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday. Also, there’s some history here. This will be the first time the US faces China in the Women’s World Cup since beating China to win it all in 1999. Remember that one?
Maybe this will help…
Leading into their game against the US, Colombian players took some shots at the Americans. “They belittle us…We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much,” said Colombian midfielder Lady Andrade. Yoreli Rincon added “they don’t have the heart we Colombians have.” SHOTS FIRED. The beef goes back to the 2012 Olympics when Lady Andrade hit Abby Wambach with a punch to the eye. The US went on to win that game 3-0. Two years later, the tension is still there. The US, on the other hand, stayed relatively quiet.
But for all the talking Colombia did, it looked as though The US would jump out to an early lead. In the third minute, Wambach scored…but was called offsides. Besides that, the US offense was lackluster, a problem that has not seemed to solve itself through the first four games of the tournament. And although Colombia never truly threatened the US defense in the first half, they did control the pace of the game.
While quality scoring chances were hard to come by in the first half, cards were not. Lauren Holiday got a yellow card in the 17th minute, her second of the tournament. She will miss the next game against China. In the 41st minute, Megan Rapinoe got her second yellow over the past four games. She will miss the China game, as well. At the end of the half it was still 0-0 and things didn’t look great for the US.
In the second half, the US women got some much needed help. Rapinoe played a ball into space for Alex Morgan and it looked like Morgan would have an open and uncontested shot at the goal. But Colombian keeper Catalina Perez came out and tried to make a play on the ball. Instead she got Morgan’s leg and a red card.
Colombia would have to play with a woman down for nearly the entire second half, while their starting keeper sat in the locker room. And with Wambach poised to take the penalty kick, it looked as though the USWNT would take their lead. But Wambach missed. She missed wide left.
The game was still 0-0.
Morgan would eventually find the back of the net in the 53rd minute to put the US up 1-0.
Thirteen minutes later, Megan Rapinoe got fouled making a run into the box, setting up the Americans’ second pk of the game. Carli Lloyd buried it and the US was up 2-0 with 24 minutes left. The US would go on to win, advancing to the round of 8 and knocking Colombia out of the tournament. It was a win, but it was far from impressive. The US has a number of issues to address before their game against China.
On one hand, the American women can feel somewhat confident going up against China. In their last 24 games playing China, spanning back to 2003, the US is 20-0-4. But the US will be without Rapinoe and Holiday. While Holiday has not been spectacular so far, she is still a solid starter and has played the majority of the minutes in the first four games. Replacing her won’t be simple. Rapinoe, on the other hand, has been one of the best offensive weapons for the US. She scored two of the three goals in their win against Australia. She delivered the corner that Wambach put past the keeper for their only goal in the win over Nigeria. And her pass to Morgan set up their first pk opportunity in the win against Colombia. She’s been instrumental in a struggling offense. It’s unsure whether coach Jill Ellis will stick with the 4-4-2 lineup she has been using, or mix things up to better suit the skills of those replacing Rapinoe and Holiday.
One thing is for sure, though. The United States will need another great defensive performance if they expect to win and advance to the semi-finals. Their one goal allowed is tied for best in the tournament. Against Colombia, they only allowed two shots on goal. TWO. Hope Solo leads the World Cup in saves and has posted clean sheets in three out of four games. While the offense has struggled, the defense has shined.