US flashes favorite's form vs. Colombia
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
GROUP C, STANDINGS
GROUP C, STANDINGS
June 28 - Colombia 0, Sweden 1
June 28 - United States 2, North Korea 0
July 2 - North Korea 0, Sweden 1
July 2 - United States 3, Colombia 0
July 5 - Sweden 2, United States 1
July 5 - North Korea 0, Colombia 0
The United States Women’s National Team validated its World Cup title ambitions with a resounding 3-0 victory over Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim, Germany. Now holding two wins from two Group C matches, the team's clinched a spot in the quarterfinals (regardless of the outcome of its final group play match against Sweden on July 6).
The 3-0 score line may flatter to deceive, as the US outclassed and outmatched the Colombians from the opening whistle. Starting strikers Amy Rodriguez and Abby Wambach had a markedly difficult time finishing chances, but goal scorers Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, and Carli Lloyd helped ease the frustration. All three contributed well struck efforts from distance.
The match affirmed that goals can truly come from anyone in the US squad, even if its favored forwards misfire. A total of five different players have scored the team's five World Cup goals.
USWNT GOAL SCORERS
|Lauren Cheney||54', North Korea|
|Rachel Buehler||76', North Korea|
|Heather O'Reilly||12', Colombia|
|Megan Rapinoe||50', Colombia|
|Carli Lloyd||57', Colombia|
The US entered the match after defeating North Korea 2-0 in its tournament opener. Then, Pia Sundhage’s side got off to a rocky start in the first half, and lacked the organization required to break down a supremely technical North Korean team. The team regrouped at halftime and put forth a stellar performance to claim its first three points of the tournament.
That carried over into Saturday’s match. Sundhage did make one change to her starting lineup, opting to drop defensive midfielder Shannon Boxx in favor of creative playmaker Lori Lindsey. That decision paid immediate dividends, echoing a similarly adept roster change ahead of the North Korea match, when she dropped Rapinoe in exchange for Lauren Cheney.
Against Colombia, Lindsey distributed the ball with great accuracy helping the US keep pressure on Colombia’s backline. Although early on that pressure only led to missed opportunities from Rodriguez and Wambach, the US found the back of the net in the 12th minute, with outside midfielder O’Reilly (above) converting a long-range shot from a tough angle.
The goal led to the team's first memorable celebration of the day, players saluting the large contingent of US service personnel and military families that were in attendance. With Sinsheim’s close proximity to a US military base, the largely pro-American crowd produced the type of raucous atmosphere rarely experienced for matches on home soil.
Sundhage’s team followed O'Reilly's goal with more waves of attacks. Right back Ali Krieger got forward often and dispatched accurate crosses, though her teammates couldn’t convert, temporarily keeping the door open for their opponent.
Colombia began pressing higher up the pitch and stole back some of the momentum. In the 32nd minute, Katerin Castro ran directly at goalkeeper Hope Solo and looked to have a shot on goal before team captain Christie Rampone raced back to clear the danger.
Despite that chance, the US went into halftime having much of the momentum but only one goal, a state that led Sundhage to sub out the misfiring Rodriguez for outside midfielder Megan Rapinoe.
It took just five minutes for Rapinoe to made her presence known. The 25-year-old had scored off the bench against North Korea, only to see her goal called off due to a foul on the goalkeeper. On Saturday, here was little doubt Rapinoe would make the scoresheet, beating Colombian goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda, blasting home her first touch from just inside the box. The flashy attacker celebrated by sprinting towards the pitch side microphone and bellowing the seminal (and timely) line from Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Born in the USA."
The moment lifted the team’s spirits, helping the US control the rest of the match.
In the 57th minute, central midfielder Carli Lloyd hammered home a powerful shot that Sepulveda was unable to get a glove on. The goal capped the scoring and assured the US advanced to the knockout round.
But in a development that was one of fans' few reasons for concern, Wambach was unable to join in the goal scoring revelry. The usually prolific striker hit a game-high eight shots, but only one was on target, part of a day of truly foul luck. In the 80th minute, a shot off her shin looked excruciatingly close to rolling into an empty net before ultimately pinging off the right upright.
Despite Wambach’s prolificacy, the US still managed a tournament-high 26 shots against the World Cup debutants.
With the win, the US is in the driver's seat in Group C. Currently tied on six points with Sweden, the team takes first in Group C with a win or draw on Wednesday, the US holding the tiebreaker advantage (goal difference).
That state's a result of Sweden, earlier in the day, getting their second win of the tournament, outlasting a compact North Korea team in Augsburg. After some frustration, Sweden found the game-winning goal in the 64th minute when Lisa Dahlkvist fired in a shot from point-blank range.
But significant to the US-Sweden match, the European side will be without the services steely central midfielder Caroline Seger on Wednesday, the Western New York Flash player earning her second yellow card of the tournament, prompting a suspension for the group's final match.
It's a game that will feature two familiar foes. Sweden nearly got the best of the US in a two-match international friendly series last July. On Wednesday, Thomas Dennerby’s team will look to put compatriot Pia Sundhage’s team on the ropes once more.
But as the US has proven so far, it won’t be an easy task.