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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Brown

The USWNT Scrapes Past Colombia in 2-0 Win Before World Cup Qualifying

The U.S.'s Kelley O'Hara (left) and Trinity Rodman (right) embrace after O'Hara scored the second goal of the match against Colombia at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, June 28, 2022. Photo Credit/AP

The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Colombia 2-0 Tuesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah in the second of two friendlies between the pair in the past week.

Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski heavily rotated the starting lineup for the match, even sidelining Sophia Smith who scored a brace in last Saturday’s 3-0 win. Alex Morgan got her first start for the U.S. since October 2021, with her heavily-anticipated international return prompted by her 11 goals for the NWSL so far this season. Carson Pickett picked up her first cap as a starter at left back, becoming the first player with a limb difference to play for the USWNT.

The U.S. got off to somewhat of a slow start. Their first real chance came in the 18th minute when a cheeky backheel layoff by Ashley Sanchez landed at Sofia Huerta’s feet, whose ball into the box just failed to meet Morgan’s head. Morgan was slightly pushed midair, but no foul was called.

Four minutes later, Huerta quickly served a ball into the box that was deflected by Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas past her goalkeeper, Catalina Perez. While the tally was marked as an own goal, Huerta’s showing last night demonstrated her versatility as a defender who can also attack.

Naomi Girma’s composure at center back was noticeably impressive, but her distribution was equally strong. In the 32nd minute, Girma played a ball over the top to the open left channel where Pickett was waiting. Her cross found Midge Purce, who missed a wide-open net as her header glazed over the top.

“They were very composed and very analytical at times,” Andonovski said regarding the center back pairing of Girma and Emily Sonnett. “They were able to play good balls for the midfielders.”

Purce frequently found herself in attacking positions, but seemed to be missing the final touch in some instances. She drove to the center and curled a left-footed shot to the far post in the 36th minute that just missed wide, and had a few opportunities where her service just missed the mark. Megan Rapinoe’s service on the left wing was also lacking, as she struggled to find success through low-driven balls. Regardless, Purce’s ability to get in behind the backline still showed true.

The last chance before halftime came in the 45th minute when Huerta stripped a Colombian defender of the ball and then whipped it into the box, where Morgan’s volley then hit the crossbar.

Trinity Rodman came on for Purce after the half, and her effort and energy were immediately felt. In the 47th minute, she blew past multiple Colombian defenders and played the ball into the box, and an attempt by Rapinoe to head the ball forced Perez to make a save off the line.

Leicy Santos troubled the U.S. defenders a few times up top. Her blast to the upper-left corner was saved by Alyssa Naeher in the 55th minute, and the U.S. was lucky to keep their lead.

A lightning delay was called in the 75th minute of the match. However, almost immediately after resuming play, the U.S. got their second goal. Sanchez launched a ball out to Rodman, who kept the play alive by heading the ball down. The ball trickled out to Kelley O’Hara who ripped a volley into the far post to bring the score to 2-0 with a little over ten minutes remaining in the match.

Ashley Hatch’s scuffle with a Colombian player in the 92nd minute was the last play before the end of the match. The referee let her off with a yellow card, but a push to the face of her opponent made her lucky not to get a red instead.

The U.S.’s performance in their last game before the Concacaf W Championship was seemingly lackluster. Service from the wings was not where it needed to be, and the group lacked energy and rhythm with the exception of a few successful moments.

Andonovski noted the importance of using the game to learn against a team comparable to those the U.S. will face next rather than being frustrated.

“That’s why we picked this opponent because we felt like it was gonna present as a picture that we’re gonna see, and we can’t be frustrated about it because we knew what we faced coming into it,” Andonovski said. “We do have a very good team and we found ways to score goals in different ways. Even though today I would say was not our best performance, we still managed to score goals.”

A number of valuable U.S. players will miss out on the Concacaf W Championship due to injury, most notably Catarina Macario, Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn, and Tierna Davidson. However, Andonovski says he has a good handle on who the starters will be.

The USWNT will take on Haiti, July 4, at Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico, for a chance to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. All four teams that reach the semifinals of the tournament automatically qualify. Matches will be streamed on Paramount+.


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