USWNT v Colombia Breakdown: Making Statements, and Playing Wambach

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So that’s what happens when you call out a giant? The giant makes an example.

The USWNT defeated the Colombian women Monday night 2-0 to advance to a quarterfinal match against China on Friday Night.

A win is a win, but this was not the statement win that many were hoping to see in this tournament. In fact, in much of the match, up until the red card was shown, Colombia controlled the tempo and most of the action. The U.S. racked up fouls, gave up set pieces, and generally allowed the Colombian women to do whatever they wanted to do, outside of getting clear cut chances.

Abby Wambach again started over Christen Press and Sydney Leroux opposite Alex Morgan (whose play has greatly ascended over the last game and a half; best U.S. attacker aside from Megan Rapinoe) With that start brought a flow of opportunities to score that were left with Wambach either not on the same page as her teammates or just falling short of making the play.

Wambach is a legend, but I couldn’t help but wonder aloud with each attempt, miss and slip: “Would Press or Leroux have done better?”

This situation is the polar opposite of Jurgen Klinsmann’s handling of Landon Donovan. U.S. fans wonder if Donovan could have helped more, as much as if Wambach could be more effective off the bench.

Lady Andrade and company pressed the U.S. similar to the way Australia did in their first match that caused a lot of problems for them. Once Colombia, got on the ball, they spaced themselves out and attacked mostly through Andrade, Yoreli Rincon, and Daniela Montoya’s dancing and tricks on the ball.

The U.S. backline mostly kept them at bay throughout the match, and of course especially once the keeper was sent off in the 47th minute, for a foul on Morgan in the box. The Colombian attackers only mustered up two shots on frame that Hope Solo comfortably dealt with.

In fact the U.S. has only given up one goal in the World Cup so far (Germany has given up the second least at 2 goals). That’s one goal in the group of death. Their suffocating defense was on display Monday night, holding Colombia to a hand full of half chances, even with them controlling the run of play for the bulk of the first half.

The backline of Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, and Lori Chalupny made the statement: “U.S. attackers, you just need to score 1 or 2; we’ll handle the rest.”

Even though the U.S. is relying on a hard fought defensive effort this year, this game brought with it the loss of key players due to yellow card accumulation. By picking up their second yellow cards, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday are out of the Quarterfinal match against China.

This is devastating for the U.S., as with the exception Alex Morgan over the last game and a half, Rapinoe has been the U.S.’s most creative attacking force. Not only will they lose a playmaker that Holiday can be at times, but another set piece artist.

We are left with so many questions following this match:

How the U.S. respond against China?

Will Wambach start again?

Who will replace Holiday, and Rapinoe?

Will Hope Solo finally be able to finish her Sudoku puzzle she started two matches ago, while the U.S. backline continue to dominate?

Were the Chinese women watching?

Will teams stop earning red cards against the U.S. women?

Do their players feel disrespected as well?

I guess we’ll find out.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images