Glasgow, Scotland (July 28, 2012)-The U.S. Women’s National Team got off to a much quicker start against Colombia than in their first game against France. Gone was any nervous energy from just a few days ago and with a slightly tweaked lineup the U.S. proved to be too much for the South American nation as the U.S. claimed a 3-0 shutout.
It was a physical game that saw tempers flare on both sides of the field, but in the end the talent and fitness of the more experienced U.S. team prevailed and secured them a quarterfinal berth as they earned the full three points from today’s match.
Coach Pia Sundhage who is blessed with clearly the deepest pool of talent in this tournament made some significant changes to her U.S. squad as they are making their push towards their third consecutive Olympic gold medal. Heather Mitts, Rachel Buehler and Kelley O’Hara surrounded Captain Christie Rampone in the backfield. The midfield featured Lauren Cheney and Carli Lloyd, flanked by Megan Rapinoe on the left and the addition of Heather O’Reilly on the right side. Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach remained the starting forwards and Hope Solo as the goalkeeper.
The U.S. playing in their red and white striped kits controlled the ball from the first minute of play. It was clear from the start that the team was on a mission to erase the fumbles of the first half against France.
Wambach had an early chance with a strike on the left side in the 12th minute that set up a corner kick for the U.S. Though not able to convert a goal it would be the first of several corners that the U.S. would have throughout the game.
A free kick by Rampone in the 28th minute gave the U.S. one of their best opportunities in the first half when the ball landed right in front of the box allowing Wambach with a significant height advantage to get her head on the ball. It was cleared skillfully by a Colombian defender though the Colombian goalie made rough contact with Wambach that left the keeper seeing stars and needing a good minute to get her bearings.
In the 33rd minute Rapinoe finally found the net for the U.S. off of a pass from Morgan. Rapinoe from nineteen yards out was able to curl the ball just out of reach of the goalie in the top of the net. Rapinoe then took the opportunity to wish an injured member of the team Ali Krieger a ‘Happy Birthday’ when she pulled a special handwritten message out and flashed it to the crowd.
As the first half was winding down the Colombian team began looking for ways to even the score without necessarily taking a shot. The 40th minute saw Colombian player Lady Andrade land a nasty right hook to Wambach’s right eye that left the veteran forward clearly in pain and writhing on the ground. It was a dirty play that should have resulted in a red card yet the U.S was merely awarded a free kick. Though the call will most likely be pending an official review by FIFA.
Another free kick off the foot of Rampone in the 42nd minute led to what looked like Morgan’s first goal of the game, but she was ultimately called offside’s by the officials.
The second half began with the U.S. unable to capitalize on two corner kick opportunities within the first six minutes. The U.S. however was able to keep the pressure on the Colombian defense leaving them scurrying to keep up with their North American counterparts.
A free kick awarded to Colombia in the 56th minute gave them one of their best scoring opportunities, though it was quickly stifled by an offside’s call. Their frustration was clear as they continued their rough style of play throughout the second half as the U.S. players did their best to avoid any serious confrontation.
The 67th minute brought the first substitute of the game with Tobin Heath in for O’Reilly, which pushed Rapinoe over onto the right side. A third goal of the game was disallowed by an offside’s call, this one off the foot of Wambach in the 69th minute.
Wambach however put an end to her frustration when she scored her 140th international goal in the 76th minute as she took a pass from Morgan and slipped a shot past three defenders that were practically hanging off of her. Hardly a minute passed when Lloyd added to the spoils and made it 3-0 with an assist off of Rapinoe.
This brought another change from Sundhage who opted to take Wambach out of the line of fire by subbing Sydney Leroux in for the veteran in the 80th minute. Amy Rodriguez came in for Rapinoe just a few minutes later to help cap off the second straight victory of these Olympics for the Americans.
One player not cleared for today’s game was Shannon Boxx. Injured in the first few minutes against France, she sat out today with a questionable hamstring injury. Sundhage has stated that she thinks she will return to play during the next week.
The next game for the U.S. will be played against Korea DPR on Tuesday July 31. The game will be played in Manchester on the historic pitch of Old Trafford. The game will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network at 12:15pm EST.