U. S. women ad­vance in World Cup

U. S. strug­gles again on of­fense but still moves into quar­ter­fi­nals UNITED STATES 2, COLOM­BIA 0

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Bax­ter

The Amer­i­cans sur­vived their stiffest test of the tour­na­ment to beat Colom­bia, 2- 0. The U. S. plays China on Fri­day.

ED­MON­TON, Canada — Colom­bia wanted re­spect. The U. S. wanted a win. Both got what they were look­ing for Mon­day. The Amer­i­cans sur­vived their most im­por­tant test so far in the women’s World Cup to win, 2- 0, on sec­ond- half goals from Alex Mor­gan and Carli Lloyd. And Colom­bia, which played the sec­ond half short- handed, proved it de­serves to be con­sid­ered among the sport’s elite.

“The whole world saw how Colom­bia has made progress in terms of women’s soc­cer,” Coach Fabian Taborda said. “I think the fu­ture will shine for us.”

The U. S., mean­while, will be try­ing to for­get the re­cent past as it pre­pares for its World Cup quar­ter­fi­nal with China on Fri­day. Be­cause while the U. S. re­mains un­beaten in the tour­na­ment, it is limp­ing past op­po­nents.

Mon­day marked its sec­ond straight win over an op­po­nent play­ing short- handed — the U. S. ended group play with a win over 10- player Nige­ria — and it has scored just two goals from open play in the two games com­bined.

“The frus­trat­ing part of it is we all want to do well,” Lloyd said. “[ But]

what’s done is done. These four matches are done.

“We’ve just got to keep mov­ing for­ward, keep plug­ging away.”

The U. S. won’t keep mov­ing for­ward much longer, though, if it doesn’t find a way to jump start a slug­gish of­fense that is lack­ing in both rhythm and chem­istry.

“I know we need to score goals. But we only need to score more than our op­po­nents,” said Abby Wam­bach, who missed badly on a penalty kick Mon­day and has scored just once in the tour­na­ment.

“At times we’re a lit­tle frus­trated,” said midfielder Me­gan Rapi­noe. “We’d ob­vi­ously like to be scor­ing more goals and get­ting a few more chances.”

Against Colom­bia the few first- half chances the U. S. did get were turned away by Catalina Perez, the backup goal­keeper, who stopped stops from Wam­bach, Tobin Heath and Alex Mor­gan in the first 30 min­utes. Wam­bach did get the ball past her once, but an off­side penalty negated the ap­par­ent goal.

But a red card for a hard tackle on Mor­gan two min­utes into the sec­ond half both ended Perez’s night and forced Colom­bia to go the rest of the way with just 10 play­ers.

And the U. S. took ad­van­tage of both cir­cum­stances when Perez’s re­place­ment, Ste­fany Cas­tano, came off the bench cold on a chilly night and failed to make a save in her first two op­por­tu­ni­ties

The f irst came in the 53rd minute when Mor­gan, given plenty of space by the short­handed Colom­bians, charged into the box from the right side and put a low right- footed shot on goal that a div­ing Cas­tano def lected into the net with her right hand.

The sec­ond came on a Lloyd penalty shot 15 min­utes later af­ter Rapi­noe was tripped in the box by Colom­bian de­fender An­gela Clav­ijo.

It then fell to a U. S. back­line that has played bril­liantly in this World Cup to make that lead stand up and it was equal to the task, ex­tend­ing its scor­ing streak to 333 min­utes.

That also al­lowed goal­keeper Hope Solo, who wasn’t called upon to make a save un­til the 84th minute, to reach a num­ber of mile­stones. The shutout was the 87th of her ca­reer, ex­tend­ing her na­tional team record, and eighth in World Cup play. Solo also tied Brianna Scurry for most wins by a keeper with 133.

So while the U. S. ef­fort wasn’t pretty and wasn’t dom­i­nant, it was suc­cess­ful. And Wam­bach said that’s re­ally the only thing that mat­ters.

“We . . . have to be proud of our­selves, that we’re mov­ing on,” she said. “We want to look at all the pos­i­tives. There’s cer­tain things that we can do bet­ter. And from a for­ward’s po­si­tion — and ac­tu­ally from a leader on this team — I want to score more goals.”

On Mon­day, she re­minded ev­ery­one, two were enough to send the Amer­i­cans on to the next round, giv­ing them four more days to f ind a so­lu­tion for their ail­ing at­tack.

“We’re ob­vi­ously pleased to be mov­ing on,” Coach Jill El­lis said. “This is the World Cup. I’m re­ally sat­is­fied with ad­vanc­ing. It’s about find­ing a way. I’m pleased with where we are.”

So is Colom­bia, which goes home hav­ing beaten France, the world’s third- ranked team, and fright­ened the sec­ond- ranked U. S. in a World Cup where no one gave it a chance.

“They played very, very hard from start to fin­ish,” Taborda said of his young play­ers. “At times the best team in the world didn’t look very good be­cause of the way we played.

“If we had not had our goal­keeper sent off, per­haps the out­come would have been dif­fer­ent.”

Todd Korol Getty I mages

AF­TER A FRUS­TRAT­ING FIRST HALF, the U. S. f in­ally scored in the 53rd minute when Alex Mor­gan beat third- string keeper Ste­fany Cas­tano. Ear­lier, an ap­par­ent goal was erased by an off­side penalty, and Abby Wam­bach missed a penalty kick.

Pho­tog r aphs by Kevin C. Cox Getty I mages

A LEAP­ING Me­gan Rapi­noe leads the cel­e­bra­tion af­ter a goal by Alex Mor­gan, third from right, gave the United States a 1- 0 lead early in the sec­ond half.

ABBY WAM­BACH punches ball past keeper Catalina Perez, though an off­side penalty negated the goal.

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