Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dominant Performance Puts U.S. in Quarterfinals

If you missed Saturday's Women's World Cup game between the United States and Columbia, you missed what was actually one of the most dominating performances by a U.S. soccer side that I've ever seen. The Americans were only able to punch in three goals on 27 shots, but they definitely got the job done nonetheless. When they weren't ripping shots on the Columbian goalkeeper (who played quite brilliantly in the first half, and then very poorly in the second), the U.S. was dominating all over the rest of the field. Any time that Columbia tried to get on the offensive, the U.S. defense was there to either thwart the effort or draw them offsides. They won the 50/50 balls, maintained strong possession, and barely let Columbia put together a string of passes of three or more. It was a solid effort for a team that is, as announcer Ian Darke put it, "turning heads of the most neutral of observers".

Heather O'Reilly started the onslaught with what has to be the goal of the tournament so far, a shot from outside the right corner of the box that traveled to the upper left corner of the net in the 12th minute. Christie Rampone added her first WC goal in the 50th minutes and Carli Lloyd scored just seven minutes later. Abby Wambach and the worst haircut in sports was unable to score despite her many shots, although she did pick up a weak yellow card which may cause her to sit out the next game (two yellow cards in any two games equals a one-game suspension).

With the win, the U.S. have clinched a quarterfinals berth, but now play Sweden on Wednesday afternoon for a matchup that will basically decided who doesn't have to play Brazil in the first round of the knockout stage. Expect the U.S. to beat Sweden and then cruise through the quarters into the semis, where a matchup with Brazil seems almost inevitable. This is a strong U.S. side, and at this point anything less than that scenario would be a disaster. What they showed me today though was that this is a team that is capable of winning it all.


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