It wasn’t pretty, but the United States Women’s National Team’s stifling defense powered the squad past Colombia, 2-0, in the first World Cup knockout game. The win sets up a quarterfinals match with world No. 16 China.
Forward Alex Morgan found the net in the 53rd minute, breaking a scoreless stalemate. Midfielder Carli Lloyd added a penalty-kick goal in the 65th minute, ensuring the US’ advancement to the next round.
Morgan looked like herself again in her second World Cup start. She had three shots on the day and drew a key red card to shift momentum.
Colombian keeper Catalina Perez supported a porous defense, saving all three shots she faced in the first 46 minutes. But she made a costly error early in the second half.
With Morgan on a breakaway, Perez dove and tripped Morgan right on the edge of the penalty box. Perez earned the red card, and the refs awarded the US a penalty kick in the box. But forward Abby Wambach missed left after fooling the backup keeper Stefany Castaño.
Morgan finally connected after Colombia deflected an American corner kick. The US kept control, Wambach headed the ball to Morgan who found a seam and blew past the defense to beat Castaño from an awkward angle.
Twelve minutes later, Lloyd connected on a second US penalty kick attempt. But both team struggled to generate offense.
Colombia played most of the game defensively, unable to find an opening. Team USA held a 14-10 shots advantage, with only two of Colombia’s shots coming on goal. Goalkeeper Hope Solo saved both shots without issue.
Despite the win, the US didn’t come out of the game unscathed.
U.S. midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe both drew yellow cards in the 41st minute. It was their second yellow cards each, which keeps them off the field against China.
The loss of both players will be tough for the team. Rapinoe has been key to the American offense, scoring two goals and adding an assist so far. Holiday has also added a shot-on-goal in the tournament.
Team USA will have to rely on a full team effort to replace Rapinoe’s shot creation and Holiday’s consistent play.
But despite being shorthanded, America remains the favorite against China.
That quarterfinal match takes place Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live on FOX.
Photo: Todd Korol/Getty Images