U.S. nails Olympics quarterfinal berth with determined 3-0 triumph over Columbia.
By Robert Wagman
(Sunday, July 29, 2012) -- With one Group G match left, the United States women have clinched advancement to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Summer Olympics yesterday with a 3-0 victory over stubborn Colombia in a match played at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland.
The match was quite physical and in the first half, determined Colombia was able to break up the U.S. rhythm. Whether it was a kick in the ankle or a punch in the face, Colombia was willing to do what it took to keep the Americans at bay. As a result, play was ragged on both ends.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe's nice goal in the 33rd minute put the U.S. on top as the Colombians showed very little desire to press forward and seemed content in trying to keep the Americans bottled up.
In the second half, the U.S. was finally able to get on track with some better play out of the midfield. It attacked more effectively with the result being a pair of goals for a comfortable win.
"The things that went well were the three goals. . . That's one thing I'm really happy about, the three goals and we didn't concede any," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "Ill give Colombia credit for the way they played. They made it hard for us and we couldn't find the rhythm in the first half. . . At the end of the day, whoever is playing against us, we are prepared and fit and we will play on and on, so that's a message to the team, even though the first half was a little bit off. "
Sundhage made a number of changes from the sub-par effort in the opening 4-2 decision over France. She started Heather Mitts at right back in place of Amy LePeilbet and Heather O'Reilly at right midfield, while shifting Megan Rapinoe to left midfield, where Tobin Heath started against France.
Next up for the U.S. is a Tuesday meeting with North Korea at Manchester United's storied Old Trafford. The U.S. must at least draw to guarantee winning Group G and a third-place opponent from another in the quarterfinal round. The match will be televised at 12 noon on NBC Sports Network.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Hope Solo - 7: A boring day. Not much to do, but her composure was good and she handled everything with ease.
Defender Heather Mitts - 6.5: The veteran got the call in the second match and had a steady afternoon. Not put under much pressure, she was able to get forward occasionally.
Defender Christie Rampone - 6.5: Clearly the leader and most important cog on the back-line, she got off to a strong start and turned away the few Colombian attacks she saw.
Defender Rachel Buehler - 5: After two matches, she is looking like the weak link on the U.S. back-line. She too was not put under much pressure, but again had some difficulties doing rather routine things.
Defender Kelley O'Hara - 6.5: She bounced back well from a sub-par outing against France. Made no defensive errors and was able to push into the attack and combine well with the midfield.
Midfielder Heather O'Reilly - 6: The veteran got the start and played well, although she could have contributed more offensively. She came off rather early, showing some sideline displeasure with her afternoon.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd - 7: She made the most of her starting role, playing well both offensively and defensively and adding a goal for a second straight match.
Midfielder Lauren Cheney - 6.5: With Rapinoe orchestrating the attack, she dropped back into a more defensive role, which she filled well. A solid match.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe - 7.5: Essentially, she ran the U.S. offense out of the midfield. Scored a nice early goal and, for the second match in a row, she was the most important American player.
Forward Alex Morgan - 7: Normally a goal scorer, today she excelled in little things -- passing, holding the ball, stretching out the Colombian defense. This versatility will serve the U.S. well going forward.
Forward Abby Wambach - 7.5: Her job is to score goals and to occupy multiple defenders. She did both and also showed she can take a punch after being struck in the face by Colombia's Lady Andrade in the 39th minute. The goal was Wambach's record sixth in the Olympics, moving her past former American stars Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett, despite missing the 2008 Games with a broken leg. It was her second tally of this tournament and her 140th international goal, with Hamm's record of 158 in sight.
Midfielder Tobin Heath (67th minute for O'Reilly) - 7: Came on and gave the U.S. the offensive spark it was lacking in the second half. Almost surely won back her starting job.
Forward Sydney Leroux, (78th minute for Wambach) - 5.5: Not much to do as the Americans were content to simply wait out the end of the match.
Midfielder Amy Rodriguez (81st minute for Rapinoe) - 6.5: Brought on to help kill off the final 10 minutes, which she did well.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Megan Rapinoe.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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