Photo: Paul Rudderow
Megan Rapinoe scored a first half goal before Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd tallied in the second half to assure the Americans a place in the Olympic quarterfinals. The US women were efficient if not quite dominant in controlling the game against a fairly weak Columbian side.
Pia Sundhage made three changes to the line up that beat France 4-2 on Wednesday. Heather Mitts replaced Amy LePeilbet at right back, Heather O’Reilly was preferred over Tobin Heath at right midfield, and Carli Lloyd started in place of the injured Shannon Boxx.
The first half was controlled by the Americans, even if chances were at a premium. The moment of quality came when Rapinoe found herself in space on top of the Columbian box and curled a 25 yard shot over the head of goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda. The winger celebrated the goal by revealing a message from her sock wishing injured defender Ali Kreiger a happy birthday.
There was a moment of controversy late in the half when it appeared that Columbian defender Lady Andrade hit Wambach in the face as the two raced down the field on US counterattack. No foul was called, though replays clearly showed Andrade made contact with the big striker.
The second half started slow for the Americans. They continued to control possession, but the final ball seemed to be lacking as service from O’Reilly, Rapinoe, and Lauren Cheney repeatedly fell short of reaching Wambach and Morgan. Tobin Heath replaced Heather O’Reilly as the game approached the 70th minute, and her inclusion seemed to jump start the Americans in the final third.
It was Heath who would provide the moment of quality to set up Wambach in the 74th minute. After some good build up play that saw the ball go through Rapinoe and Mitts, Heath played a beautiful first time pass into the Columbian box. Wambach was able to hold off the challenge of two Columbian defenders before slotting cooly into the far corner of the net.
Carli Lloyd added gloss to the score line scoring her second goal in as many games from the central midfield role. Lloyd latched onto a great ball by Rapinoe at the top of the Columbian box before finishing low into the left corner of Sepulveda’s net.
The US win assures them a place in the quarterfinals, though they will still look to win their final group game against N. Korea on Tuesday to insure first place in Group G.
There was a little post match drama as American goalkeeper Hope Solo took to twitter to criticize NBC color commentator Brandi Chastain. Chastain was critical of the American defense after they seemed disorganized in spotting the French a 2-0 lead before storming back to win on Wednesday. Chastain was difficult to listen to today as her color commentary seemed to dumb down the sport during the broadcast, but it would be difficult to argue that the Americans were in fact disorganized in the early going against the French.