Colom­bia drops into a matchup with U.S.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­

ED­MON­TON, Canada — A day af­ter punch­ing its ticket to the sec­ond round of the women’s World Cup, the U.S. learned Wed­nes­day whom it would be play­ing there.

The op­po­nent is Colom­bia, which en­tered the fi­nal day of pool play lead­ing Group F but tum­bled to third when it lost to Eng­land, 2-1, while France routed Mexico, 5-0, to win the group.

That sends the South Amer­i­cans on to Ed­mon­ton to play the sec­on­dranked U.S., a team it has never beaten — or even scored upon. And to make things worse Colom­bia will be mak­ing that trip with­out goal­keeper San­dra Sepul­veda, who was sus­pended one game af­ter pick­ing up her sec­ond yel­low card for clip­ping Eng­land’s Jodie Tay­lor in the 85th minute Wed­nes­day.

Sepul­veda au­thored the big­gest up­set of this World Cup when she faced 21 shots from France but didn’t give up a goal in a 2-0 win.

On-the-job train­ing

For a team long on ex­pe­ri­ence, the U.S. has used a back­line that came into this tour­na­ment as green as Canada’s ar­ti­fi­cial turf. Two starters — Meghan Klin­gen­berg and Julie John­ston — are play­ing in a World Cup for the first time, while Becky Sauer­brunn had just 90 min­utes of World Cup ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore Canada.

But all three — along with vet­eran Ali Krieger — have been spec­tac­u­lar and the Amer­i­cans have con­ceded only one score in the tour­na­ment — none in the last 243 min­utes, af­ter an early goal by Aus­tralia.

“We don’t want to have goals against us,” said John­ston, at 23 the youngest U.S. starter. “We’re re­ally dis­ap­pointed that we gave one up.”

John­ston landed hard on her back in the sec­ond half Mon­day against Nige­ria. But she said the in­jury was noth­ing se­ri­ous.

“It’s a phys­i­cal team,” she said. “So it was ex­pected. We have a cou­ple of days off to re­cover.”

Friendly com­pe­ti­tion

Although all the play­ers and of­fi­cials in this World Cup are women, only eight of the 24 teams had women coaches.

And only half of those — the U.S., Ger­many, Swe­den and Switzer­land — sur­vived group play.

Ger­many and Swe­den will face off Satur­day, but it won’t be the first World Cup matchup be­tween Sil­via Neid, a for­mer na­tional team player who took over as Ger­many’s coach in 2005, and Pia Sund­hage, who led the U.S. to two Olympic cham­pi­onships as well as the fi­nal of the last World Cup be­fore re­turn­ing to her na­tive Swe­den.

In a group-play game at the 1995 World Cup, Sund­hage scored the ty­ing goal in a 3-2 win over Neid and Ger­many.

Switzer­land, mean­while, is led by Martina Voss-Teck­len­burg, a one­time team­mate of Neid’s with the Ger­man na­tional team while U.S. Coach Jill El­lis was Sund­hage’s as­sis­tant with the U.S.

FIFA says it wants to see more women coaches in the fu­ture, so be­gin­ning with next year’s U-17 World Cup, it is ex­pected to de­mand each team have at least one fe­male on the side­lines, as ei­ther a head coach or as an as­sis­tant.

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