Olympic soccer: USWNT Top Group Despite Hope Solo Gifting Colombia Two Goals

The US women’s national team topped Group G at the Rio Olympics despite drawing 2-2 with last place side Colombia.

The USWNT sealed its passage into the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics, yet the team did so in uninspiring fashion after drawing 2-2 with Colombia.

Against New Zealand in the group stage opener, the ladies failed to take their chances in front of goal. Versus France, it was the defense that struggled, as Hope Solo made six saves to give the USWNT all three points. Against Colombia, however, it was Solo’s turn to falter, as the USA’s undisputed No. 1 made two goalkeeping errors that led to Colombia’s two goals.

The night didn’t start well for the Americans and saw the team concede its first goal of the tournament. Solo’s first mistake came in the 26th minute when Colombia’s Maria Usme lined up a free-kick from 20-yards out. Usme’s free-kick eluded the USA’s wall before catching Solo leaning to her right. She failed to get down in time and Usme’s shot went through her hands.

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The USWNT rebounded from Solo’s mistake, leveling the match just before halftime. Carli Lloyd beat the Colombia offside trap, but her shot was palmed into the ground by goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda before bouncing high against the crossbar and falling into the six-yard box. Neither Sepulveda nor or two defenders could reach the ball before the USA’s Crystal Dunn side footed it into the back of the net. It was what the team deserved, as Solo’s error was nullified.

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Just after halftime the US struck again, this time it was teen soccer sensation Mallory Pugh, opening her Olympic scoring account. Pugh entered the match in the 33rd minute for Megan Rapinoe, who made her first start since injuring her ACL eight months ago.

Pugh’s goal just before the hour mark showed a young player with year’s of experience and poise already under her belt. The midfielder’s goal should give USWNT supporters assurance of the talent waiting in the wings as the 18-year-old picked up Dunn’s cross in the 18-yard box, before dancing through Colombia’s defense and firing home.

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Pugh should have added a second and put the match to bed just minutes later. However, the teenager showed her inexperience, straying offside and being unaware she was ahead of the ball. That mistake left the door open for another Colombia goal, which came in the 90th minute.

Usme once again lined up a Colombia free-kick, this time from just outside the 18-yard box, on Solo’s left hand side. Usme’s in swinger to the back post was hit with power, and Solo attempted to punch it clear. She mistimed her jump and in the end flapped at the shot, which found its way into the far corner of the net.

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Other than the two shots that Colombia scored, Solo had no saves to make during the 90 minutes. Solo’s performance lacked the usual vigor it has had in the past. Coupled with the USWNT’s failure to score freely, and the team was held in check by the group’s bottom team.

Despite the draw, the USA still topped Group G and will play play Sweden on Friday. The Swedes finished third in group E, and qualified for the knockout round by being one of the two best third place sides. The winner of the USA versus Sweden match will play either Brazil or Australia in the semi-finals.

Brazil has also gone through the tournament undefeated and topped group E. Meanwhile, Australia finished third in Group F behind Canada and Germany.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer. Check out his latest book, Soccer Travels, in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

Drew Farmer
I am a freelance journalist and author currently living in Manchester, England. Originally from the USA, I have written about sports and travel for years.I have written for Hopeless Football Romantic magazine, The Football Pink magazine, World Soccer Talk, Sports Collectors Daily, Forza Italian Football and many more. My debut book Soccer Travels was released in spring 2016, and details travelling to soccer matches around the globe. It can be purchased on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.