The first half of the U.S. vs. Colombia game was very even and tough on both sides. The Colombians attacked with style and swagger but the USWNT snuffed out every advance. As a result, goalkeeper Hope Solo was largely a spectator in this match. The U.S. built most of their attacking opportunities down the flanks and tried to find striker Abby Wambach in the area but the Colombians were sound defensively and kept a close watch on Wambach. Though the first half ended 0-0, the UWSNT managed to put 3 of their 7 shots on target in the first 45 minutes whereas Colombia didn’t test Solo once.
The USWNT started the second half with renewed impetus. With 47 minutes on the clock, Diamond Bar Californian native Alex Morgan sprung the offside trap and was attacking the goal when she suffered a foul inside the box by deputy Colombian goalkeeper Catalina Perez who was filing in for injured first choice goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda. That foul led to the Colombian goalkeeper being sent off and the awarding of a penalty kick for the United States. Abby Wambach stepped up and took the shot with her left foot, but missed the goal.
A few minutes after that miss, when the U.S. was attacking again, Alex Morgan received the ball and found the goalkeeper out of position and instead of crossing the ball, she shot straight at goal and scored for the U.S.
Since Colombia was playing with one woman down after the red card, the field opened up a bit more for the U.S. for the remainder of the game. Megan Rapinoe attacked the defense again and again. On one play, Rapinoe was fouled inside the box, resulting in the USWNT being awarded another penalty. This time it was midfielder Carli Lloyd who took the PK and scored U.S. second goal.
This was a match that was decided mostly on the mistakes made by the Colombian players, and at this knockout stage you cannot afford to make those mistakes. This was the second World Cup for Colombia, and unfortunately for them, they were the last South American team to get eliminated. This again shows the contrast in culture between Latin American countries and the U.S. for female soccer, which is considered a men’s sport in many countries.
The U.S. has not peaked yet, but as they continue to go through and win games, maybe they can reach their best level at a possible future final.
Next they play against China on Friday for the quarterfinals as a rematch of the 1999 Women’s World Cup final when the U.S. won in PK’s. Due to yellow card accumulation, the USWNT will be without important midfielders Meagan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday.