July 2, 2011

United States 3, Colombia 0

United States dominated Colombia for most of 90 minutes, taking their second Group C match with a 3-0 victory and it really could have been much more. The Americans took 27 shots, nine of which were on goal and nearly all were dangerous.

The victory means that the United States have qualified for the quarterfinals, with only first and second place in Group C to be decided. The US will meet Sweden on Wednesday to settle that.

Both teams made changes to their starting lineups. Lori Lindsey started for Shannon Boxx in the midfield to give the veteran a bit of rest. Meanwhile, Colombian coach Ricardo Rozo elected not to start his young star Yoreli Rincon who had struggled in their first match.

The first chance came in just the third minute. Lauren Cheney played a ball into the left side of the box, but Amy Rodriguez's shot from a bad angle was saved by Sandra Sepulveda.

Just four minutes later, Heather O'Reilly's cross from the right side found Abby Wambach on the left side of the box. Wambach's shot was saved by Sepulveda and the rebound went to a wide open Rodriguez who skied the ball over the crossbar. Sepulveda injured her hand on the save on Wambach and the injury may have cost her later in the match.

Rodriguez had yet another chance in the 10th minute as a well-weighted ball from Lori Lindsey sent her in alone on the left side, but Sepulveda cut off the angle and Rodriguez fired wide.

A poor touch on a clearance led to the United States' first goal in the 13th minute. Heather O'Reilly picked up the loose ball and hammered a shot into the left side netting from 25 yards out. That goal had to take some of the pressure off of the USWNT.

A corner almost led to another goal, but Wambach's header went wide left in the 21st minute. That was followed by Rodriguez's curling shot from 20 yards that was saved by Sepulveda. In the 31st, another cross by O'Reilly from the right side found Wambach wide open, but her header went well over the bar. In the 36th minute, Sepulveda saved Lauren Cheney's blast from 12 yards. Chance after chance and the US still only led by one.

Colombia had very few chances in the first half, but they did put the ball into the net once. In the closing minute of the half, Diana Ospina put the ball through to Katerin Castro, who slipped the ball past Hope Solo, but Castro was well offside on the play.

Megan Rapinoe came on as a halftime substitution for Rodriguez and instantly brought energy and a goal to the US. A throw-in came to Cheney with her back to the net, about 30 yards out. She turned on her defender and slipped a pass just inside the penalty area to Rapinoe. Rapinoe worked her away along the top of the box toward the middle and drove the ball into the upper left corner of the net.

In the 57th minute, Carli Lloyd made it 3-0 on a long-range bomb from 28 yards that Sepulveda appeared to have saved, but it went off her hands into the goal. One had to wonder if the earlier injury might have been a factor there.

The United States continued to pile on the chances, but scored no more goals. Rapinoe rattled the crossbar in the 68th minute, just missing her second goal. In the 80th minute, Wambach blocked Sepulveda's attempted clearance and the ball squarely hit the right post, but stayed out of the goal.

Colombia appeared to have a golden opportunity in the 85th minute, but Orianica Velasquez took a bit too much time and the US defense was able to recover. It must be said that Velasquez had some very good moments as a second half substitute.

The two things the US didn't want in the closing minutes were injuries or yellow cards. Unfortunately, they got both. Heather O'Reilly came off in the 62nd minute and it was unclear what the nature of her injury was, but she was obviously in some discomfort as she was examined on the sideline.

Abby Wambach received a yellow card in the 84th minute as her foot caught Sepulveda in the side as the Colombian keeper was making a save.

Hope Solo posted her fifth straight World Cup shutout, making only four saves for the match.

The United States and Sweden have qualified for the quarterfinals. The order will be determined by the match between the two on Wednesday. In the event of a tie, the United States would win the group based on goal differential. Colombia will face Korea DPR in the other Group C match on Wednesday.