It took a red card, two penalty kicks and some second half heroics from Alex Morgan, but the United States was not be denied a spot in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, defeating a resilient Colombian team, 2-0, at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.
Morgan opened the scoring in the 53rd minute with a near post finish before midfielder Carli Lloyd sealed the win in the 66th from the penalty spot.
But the result did not come without some consequences for the Americans with midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe out for their next match due to yellow card accumulation.
The win also did little to silence the United States’ critics as the Americans once again underwhelmed in their build up play and ability to create consistent chances. Abby Wambach added to her struggles as well for the U.S. missing a penalty kick in the 47th minute that should have opened the scoring floodgates.
While the U.S. is still managing to survive and advance, when compared to the other top two teams in the world in France and Germany—both of whom won their round-of-16 games 3-0 and 4-1, respectively—the cause for concern is high.
“We keep telling everybody we haven’t peaked yet,” Lloyd told reporters postgame. “We still have a few more games to go for that.”
If and when the U.S. reaches its peak is anyone’s guess but the American’s did start the game against Las Cafeteras with promise.
The first chance came from midfielder Tobin Heath in the 4th minute who placed a shot to the far corner but Colombia’s keeper Catalina Perez, who was in place for the suspended Sandra Sepulveda, made the diving save.
Wambach appeared to sneak the rebound in for the quick opener but was ruled offside by just a fraction.
The U.S. continued to look good in the attack in the first half but as game remained scoreless, Colombia began to press the ball and growing in confidence. That press led to some miscues in possession and some fouling to make up for defensive mistakes leading to Holiday and Rapinoe’s yellow cards.
It didn’t take long for momentum to change in the second half, however, with Rapinoe finding Morgan in behind the Colombian defense in the 46th minute. Morgan then attempted to dribble past a charging Perez who did her best to close the angle but a clever touch to the side from Morgan made Perez’s leg sweep her to the ground leading to a red card and penalty kick.
Stefany Castano, who started the first game against Mexico, came in as the team’s last option in net to attempt to deny Wambach, but the 35-year-old forward managed to defeat herself and sent her shot bending wide of the left post.
The miss appeared to shift momentum back in Colombia’s favor to start the second half but six minutes later Castano showed why she had been relegated to third on the depth chart when she was left too much space on the near post for Morgan’s game-winner.
The goal not only served as a confidence booster for Morgan who had not scored this World Cup but also deflated the Colombia side.
Thirteen minutes later, Rapinoe turned from server to provider, drawing a penalty kick off a through pass from defender Ali Krieger which Lloyd stepped up to take and buried to the far right.
Las Cafeteras did little to retaliate after that as the U.S. coasted to the win.
Next Up: The U.S. play China, a team it has beaten in 24 consecutive games, in the Quarterfinals June 26 in Ottawa while Colombia exits the tournament as the last remaining South American team and with a newfound respect among the world’s top teams.
United States vs. Colombia
June 22, 2015 — Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Scoring by Period 1 2 F
United States 0 2 2
Colombia 0 0 0
USA: Alex Morgan –53’
USA: Carli Lloyd –66’ (penalty kick)
USA: Lauren Holiday (yellow card) 17’
USA: Megan Rapinoe (yellow card) 41’
COL: Catalina Perez (red card) 47’
COL: Angela Clavijo (yellow card) 65’
USA: Hope Solo, Ali Krieger (Lori Chalupny, 81’), Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe (Christen Press, 75’), Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach (C)(Morgan Brian, 69’)
COL: Catalina Perez, Orianica Velasquez, Angela Clavijo, Nataly Arias, Carolina Arias, Natalie Gaitan (C), Diana Ospina, Daniela Montoya (Leicy Santos, 85’), Yoreli Rincon (Catalina Usme, 72’), Lady Andrade, Ingrid Vidal (Stefany Castano, 49’)