USA Prevails Against Colombia to Advance to Quarterfinals

On Monday, the United States defeated Colombia, 2-0, in the Round of 16 at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. A crowd of 28,120 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton saw goals from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd the USA advanced into a quarterfinal round matchup with China PR.

Colombia was without starting goalkeeper Sandra Sepúlveda, who was suspended for yellow card accumulation. Backup Catalina Pérez was called into action early and would make key saves throughout the first half to keep the score deadlocked at halftime, 0-0.

Pérez made a key save in the 4th minute after blocking a Tobin Heath shot from inside the box. Abby Wambach was there to tap the rebound into the net but was ruled offside. In the 14th minute, Wambach half-volleyed a ball headed off Morgan but Pérez was off her line to make the one-handed save. In the 28th minute, Pérez parried an Alex Morgan header up and over the crossbar.

Pérez featured heavily in the second half as well, albeit most by her absence. In the 47th minute, Pérez was shown a straight red for bringing down Morgan just outside the penalty area. Wambach missed the ensuing penalty kick wide left to keep the score level at 0-0.

The U.S. got it’s breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Ali Krieger found Morgan outside of the box. Morgan’s right-footed strike was misplayed by substitute goalkeeper Stefany Castaño and found the back of the net to give Morgan her first goal of this World Cup.

In the 66th minute, Angela Clavijo brought down Megan Rapinoe in the box. Carli Lloyd took the kick and buried it down the middle and also recorded her first goal in this World Cup.

Castaño was called upon in the 75th minute, saving a Lloyd shot from outside the box.

The U.S. defense was sound again, extending its shutout streak to 333 minutes in the tournament — the only goal to be conceded coming in the opening group match against Australia.

U.S. head coach made no changes to the starting lineup from the last group match against Nigeria. Ellis will not have that luxury in the quarterfinal match against China PR as Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday both pick up yellow cards and will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.

Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Carli Lloyd (USA)

Where’s the Fire?

One team entered the match after having topped its group and ranked No. 2 in the world, playing in all instances of the Women’s World Cup. The other team entered the match after finishing third in its group and ranked No. 28 in the world, making only its second appearance in a Women’s World Cup.

Which team looked confident, technical, and inspired? Hint: It wasn’t the team that won and advanced into its seventh-straight quarterfinal appearance.

There’s not a silver bullet for what ails the U.S. Women’s National Team. That we sit here and pick apart the No. 2-ranked team in the world that has conceded only one goal in the tournament is a testament to the expectations the team carries on its shoulders.

At this point, you can only admire the doggedness of head coach Jill Ellis because the tactics aren’t going to change. There’s a better chance of finding some players on the back of a milk carton than on the field.

All that being said, this is a deeply talented team.

And that’s why it’s so puzzling to see this team at this stage of the World Cup perform in such a listless manner.

It’s a team that doesn’t look like they’re all buying into what’s being sold. This is a team that looks like it needs a little more #WeBelieve rather than #SheBelieves right now. This is a team that looks frustrated. No, it’s worse, this is a team that looks… unsure.

Even the walking animated gif known as Megan Rapinoe has looked a little downsized of late.

Ellis and Co. have said they’ve retreated into a protective bubble. Everybody needs a good hype man and Ellis has played that part well, never turning down an opportunity to insist she’s pleased with the team’s performances and progression.

But maybe it’s time for her and the team to step outside of that bubble. Let the criticism get to them a little. Get fired up.

Let loose of the reins. Stop overthinking. Let some of that instinct back in the game and let the joy back in. Ditch that fear of making a mistake — that’s no way to live, let alone play soccer. Stop playing not to lose and start playing to win. Better yet, just play.


All images courtesy of Cynthia Hobgood.


[divider]About the Photographer[/divider]

Cynthia Hobgood is a Washington, DC-based digital communications consultant, photographer and writer. Hobgood started covering soccer as a journalist in 2000 for weekly/daily publications and ultimately, the Associated Press (while also covering other pro and NCAA sports primarily in the DC area.) She previously helped launch a national youth sports nonprofit and started Full 90 Communications earlier this year. Hobgood has a master’s degree in sports management from The George Washington University School of Business and master of arts degree in English from Baylor University.