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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

July 2, 2011
STILL PERFECT
U.S. Women blank Colombia, 3-0


Megan Rapinoe scored her first Women’s World Cup goal in the second half of Saturday’s 3-0 win over Colombia.
Megan Rapinoe scored her first Women’s World Cup goal in the second half of Saturday’s 3-0 win over Colombia.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
SINSHEIM, Germany—The U.S. Women’s National Team can certainly lift their glasses after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Group C opponent Colombia at sold-out Rhein-Neckar Arena, but there might be a question about whether those glasses are half-full or half-empty.

The victory did send the USA through to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, although whether they will advance as number one or two in the Group will not be decided until Wednesday’s finale against Sweden. Both teams have six points, with the USA currently leading on goal differential (+5). And all three goals against Colombia, by Heather O’Reilly in the 12th minute, Megan Rapinoe in the 50th and Carli Lloyd in the 57th, were cracking, crowd-pleasing long distance blasts. It was a good win, but perhaps not the statement it could or should have been against a team of World Cup debutantes and by far the weakest side in the Group.

The U.S. forwards in particular had a nightmare outing. Amy Rodriguez went to the bench at halftime after failing to convert on no fewer than three golden opportunities. And Abby Wambach’s extended scoring drought continued in excruciating fashion. Before the intermission. She had a point-blank shot saved by Colombian ‘keeper Sandra Sepulveda, and sent two open headers wide of the target. In the second half, with teammates frantically trying to set the table for her, the run of bad luck continued, culminating in the 80th minute, when Wambach caught Sepulveda near the top of the box and kneed an open shot on goal off the helpless ‘keeper only to see the ball bounce weakly off the far post and back into the path of a backtracked defender.

Fortunately for all concerned, the USA midfield was at the top of its game, dominating possession for much of the game and shouldering the scoring responsibility. O’Reilly staked the team to a 1-0 lead off a turnover above the top right edge of the penalty area. She slammed a right-footed shot that curled out, then back in before nestling in the upper right corner of the net.

The rest of the first half was frustrating for the U.S. Women, who repeatedly worked the ball into the well-packed box only to come up empty. In the 21st minute, O’Reilly tried to chip Sepulveda but got no more than a corner kick, ultimately headed over the bar by Wambach, for her trouble. Rodriguez’s bending attempt was saved seven minutes later, and Wambach missed on another close-in header off O’Reilly’s set-up at the half-hour mark.

Halftime substitute Rapinoe gave the U.S. some breathing room in the 50th, taking a short pass from Lauren Cheney at the top of the penalty area and turning past her defender to gain just enough room to blast a shot into the rook of the net.

Lloyd capped the win from 30 yards, with a shot that Sepulveda tried to block, but which bounced off her hands and into the net. Rapinoe came within inches of notching her second goal in the 68th minute, but hit the bar.

U.S. ‘keeper Hope Solo faced few serious challenges from the unintimidated Colombians, but did dive to parry away a dangerous attempt by substituteOrianica Velasquez in the 54th minute, and was beaten one-on-one shortly into the half by Carmen Rodallega, but the apparent goal was called back for offside.






   
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