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USWNT Advances to Quarters over 10-Woman Colombia

Underdogs Colombia are eliminated from the 2015 Women’s World Cup after a solid but underwhelming US side won 2-0 in Edmonton on June 22.

A fairly even performance from both teams, the US was aided in their victory with two penalty calls and a red card for Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez, which forced Colombia to play with 10 women for nearly the entire second half.

An early first half goal by Abby Wambach was ruled offside, and the first ten minutes saw a confident Colombia side dominating possession and forcing many turnovers. In the first 45 minutes, both teams were having trouble finding space in the final third. The US, despite having several good chances off set pieces, failed to capitalize on the height advantage they had over the Colombian defense. Colombia’s forwards, in the “samba futbol” kind of style, were very technically focused and attempted many one-on-one dribbles, which were usually thwarted by the strong defensive effort we’ve come to see in the US during this tournament.

The only two US players that were on yellow cards going into the match, Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe, were both booked in the 15th and 42nd minutes, respectively, meaning both will be suspended in the next match against China. Rapinoe felt the second yellow was a poor call.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Rapinoe said in a post-match interview. “I felt it was a little undeserving.”

Colombia, though seemingly very confident until the sending off in the second half, used a lot of gamesmanship to their advantage. Their players went to ground at the slightest contact, and there were even a few outright flops. Colombia drew a total of 22 fouls, not all of which were legitimate in my opinion. I never have, or will, agree with this kind of tactic. Going into the match, Colombia surely knew that they were outmatched in physical categories, but there are other ways to combat an advantaged opponent than diving and trying to draw as many fouls as possible.

As the second half began, the course of the game was almost immediately changed. In the 47th minute, Alex Morgan was taken down in the box by Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez, who was then sent off. The ensuing penalty kick, taken by Abby Wambach, was missed outside of the post. Morgan would come back with a goal in the 53rd minute, taking a shot at the near post which was deflected off third choice Colombian goalkeeper Stefany Castaño into the net. The Colombians conceded a second penalty in the 65th minute, and this time Carli Lloyd stepped up to the spot and put away the USA’s second goal of the match.

As touched on by the match commentators, the USA has not “made a statement” at all during this tournament. As the #2 ranked team in the world, they have not displayed any truly dominant performances during this World Cup. If it were not for the stellar goalkeeping of Hope Solo and her supporting cast of defenders, this World Cup might have been an entirely different story for the US as the offense has lacked organization and consistency.

The USWNT faces off against China in Ottawa in the quarterfinal round on Friday, June 26, and the US is still looking to cement their reputation with a truly dominant showing. Can they do it?

--Brandon Addeo (@baddeo95 on Twitter)

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