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Another second-half surge propels USWNT to World Cup quarterfinals


Photo by Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports


Despite seeing a missed penalty kick and a goal ruled offside, the U.S. Women’s National Team produced just enough on the attacking end to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.

Led by second-half goals from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd, the USWNT topped 1-woman Colombia, 2-0, in Monday night’s Round of 16 matchup to lock up a spot in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

Morgan’s finish, which came in the 53rd minute, came just moments after a missed penalty kick threatened to derail what had been a more aggressive U.S. side.

Just moments after Abby Wambach missed from the spot against substitute goalkeeper Stephany Castaño, Morgan gave the U.S. the lead in the by catching the goalkeeper cheating just moments after coming onto the field.

After a bit of sustained possession, Morgan received the ball on the right side of the box and dribbled towards the near post. The U.S. forward unleashed a shot right at the post which caromed off of the hands of Castaño, giving the U.S. the 1-0 lead.

The lead was doubled in the 66th minute by Lloyd, who cashed in the USWNT’s second penalty kick attempt of the evening following a foul in the box on Megan Rapinoe.

Colombia was sent into full-on crisis mode in 47th minute as goalkeeper CatalinaPerez was sent-off for a foul on Morgan that yielded a penalty kick. Starting due to a suspension to incumbent starter Sandra Sepúlveda, Perez was replaced by Castaño, who was bailed out on the Wambach penalty kick as the U.S. forward sent the spot kick well wide.

Morgan recovered for the U.S. just six minutes later, bailing the U.S. out by catching Castaño cheating for the game-winning goal.

The first half saw the U.S. once again prove dominant, although the attacking unit once again failed to provide any sort of end product. Struggling to create via a flurry long balls, the U.S. had few chances, with the best coming on an Wambach finish that was ruled offside.

Wambach’a near chance came in the fourth minute, as the USWNT forward pounced on a rebound from a Tobin Heath shot, but was ruled offside shortly after toe-poking a shot past Perez.

For the U.S., the lone sour spots came in the forms of yellow cards, as both Lauren Holliday and Rapinoe were booked, earning suspensions for the quarterfinals due to yellow card accumulation.

However, the pair of U.S. finishes proved to be more than enough to ensure a U.S. victory. With the win, the USWNT is now set to take on China in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup.


  1. The vast majority of the commenters here are proving their ignorance with this team. how in gods name is ANYONE calling for A-Rod to start? She probably has the lowest soccer IQ on the bench, she had absolutely 0 game sense, 0 awareness, horrible positioning, she is the EPITOME of run fast with no skill and hope the person facing you isnt as fast.

    Also anyone who wants Press/ Leroux starting. Leroux had an AWFUL year in the womens league, scoring only 5 goals in over 20 appearances. She is not the player she was 2 years ago, not by a long shot. People need to just shut it and let the players play out.

    Anyone wanting Leroux/ARod shouldnt even call themselves USWNT fans because clearly they dont follow the team

    • Yes, let’s keep our mouths shut and let Ellis do the exact same thing over and over again, even if everyone can see it’s not working. It’s more important to keep everything the way it is than to play well. Because the world never changes and it shouldn’t change. Maybe we can ask the Germans and the French and the Japanese and everyone else if they will go back to the way things were in the 1990s. Hell, Julie Foudy is always talking about how much she misses playing so call her and Mia Hamm back on the eam. Yes, let the players play it out . . . and lose. Because that’s what a true fan would do. Just not care.

  2. One thing I haven’t seen addressed here is how easily the Colombians went down. At the half the4 announcers said that 12 fouls were called against the US vs. 3 for Colombia. Also, while the two yellows against the US were debatable, in the second half there was a play where Rapinoe cleared the ball from deep in the corner and the play was called back. The replay showed that a good half second after she kicked the ball, the Colombian player took her out with a two footed slide tackle. The Colombian had to know she wasn’t going to get the ball, she was clearly going after the player and yet there was no yellow and that was the clearest yellow card offense in the whole game. The only real offense that Colombia had was free kicks from all the foul calls.

  3. “For the U.S., the lone sour spots came in the forms of yellow cards, as both Lauren Holliday and Rapinoe were booked, earning suspensions for the quarterfinals due to yellow card accumulation.”

    Those were the lone sour spots? Which match were you watching? This team looks flat and uninspired, almost as if they’re just supposed to win because USA. I don’t think Abby Wambach is starting quality anymore, but unlike Jurgen Klinsmann (who had the balls to tell Landon Donovan to stay home last year), Jill Eliis isn’t going to do anything with Abby Wambach because she’s Abby Wambach.

    And when you think about how the USWNT relies heavily on older players, set pieces (sorry, Alexi), and outdated tactics, the USWNT is starting to sound a lot like the England MNT.

      • Regardless of whether or not you think was the right thing to do, he did it. Unlike Ellis and the USWNT, Klinsmann did not just bow before one of the biggest names of the modern USMNT.

  4. Wambach shouldn’t be starting. The offense stifles with her as a target because that’s all they look for. Get it near Abby and hope something happens is not a game plan, ita a cop-out, or at least it should be a last resort. Press and Leroux have plenty of technical quality as dynamic attacking players to combine with Morgan and can keep possession better. Wambach should be coming off the bench late in the event of desparation time.

  5. As usual with our national teams, the other team looked better technically but our more athletic players came up with the win. It’s all great until we run into a team with the same caliber athletes but more technical players. That’s how we roll.

      • Wrong. Germany and France. Plus, Japan is so technically skilled and well organized, that they can make up for lack of size and athleticism.

  6. two time world champion Michelle Eckers-Stahl on radio interview after Colombia’s game…

    “if coach Ellis is happy with the way the team performed, then what the Hell is she doing coaching our team?” we’re about to implode… dammm!

  7. Yawnster…I made the exact same team comparison yesterday when watching the game. Reminds me so much of Argentina, talent but no gameplan along with the fact that they are scared to move away from veterans.

    • LOL. How is it possible to have Lionel Frickin Messi, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain in the game, AND Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero on the bench, and still only beat Jamaica 1-0? Maybe Argentina and the USWNT share the same tactical plans — “Uh, go out there and put the ball into the goal.”

  8. Most here don’t see the big gorilla in the room. The gift, the gift of playing against ten is what made the difference in this game. It was shaping out to be very interesting and the USWNT was getting nervous, you could tell towards the end of the first half. Now these women refs are very emotional, of course. That (the first) was not a pk, neither in fact, and really it was not a red card as it happened outside the box and there was another Colombian player covering behind the keeper already. I know Wabbach missed the pk that time, but in an even game that was the difference and still they only manage to score one more goal, in yet another soft pk call. Against Nigeria it was a similar situation. I have to say this team is lucky it won’t be facing a real team until the semis, but China will be no Colombia, you better believe it.

    • Nice troll!

      The PK and red card were textbook. Absolutely no question about either.

      Also really like the rampant sexism. That should elicit a few screams.

      2nd PK was also clear. Takedown in open space, no contact with the ball.

      With that said, you basic criticism that this team got lucky to get PKs and play against 10 is valid.

    • did you see how hard the goalie kicked alex in the shins? the slow mo showed it was pretty clear. anyways i thought we played pretty horribly. improvement needed to get past ze germans

  9. “Our players aren’t that great”? I find that ironic coming from someone named Diego Maradoughnuts since the USWNT kind of resembles the Argentinian mens team — a really sick pool of forwards, world class players in almost every other position, and years and years of really poor coaches.

    There is a problem with the USWNT right now, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the quality of the players. I’m beginning to fear that it’s the culture of the USWNT — conservative, rigid and favoring “getting along” over being competitive.

    People look back at Pia Sundhage as like a Mourinho or Guardiola, but she is a horrible tactical and strategic coach. The only thing she was good at was managing the personalities and keeping the players happy as a team. She rarely looked at other newer, younger players and used the same lineup, even for meaningless friendlies against Guatemala. People forget that in the run up to the 2011 World Cup and in the World Cup itself, Wambach and ARod went on a terrible goal-scoring drought but Pia Sundhage kept them in game after game. Alex Morgan, who was scoring nearly every time she came in as a sub, couldn’t get a start to save her life. Her first WC start came against Nigeria last week!

    USWNT is paying the price of Sundhage’s extreme rigidity. It’s hard to develop young talent when you don’t give them a chance to play in international competition. Rampone and Boxx were studs in their day, but I believe they’re 40 and 37. I think Lloyd, O’Reilly and few others are in their mid-30s.

    Then when Tony Sermanni tried to shake things up, the veterans on the team revolted. US Soccer should have supported him, but they fired him and replaced him with Ellis, who was Sundhage’s assistant. Why are we surprised we are getting the same old same old?

    I absolutely love the USWNT and support them in every way. But let’s be honest — Colombia played better soccer and had the better game plan. We won by brute force, not smarts — our players were individually superior, even if they played a style of soccer from 10 or 15 years ago. I am hoping for the best; that someone in USWNT will come to their senses or that our players will play out of theirs minds.

    Remember that Swedish team we never really threatened to score against? Yeah, Germany tacked four goals on them and the 4-1 scoreline flattered Sweden. We still have a better individual players than Germany (by a small margin), but that isn’t going to make a difference if we play 2000 soccer and they play 2015 soccer. Just ask the Brazilian’s men team . . .

    • agree, USSF president Gulati was pathetic, he sided with the mouthy vets and fired Sermani. Gulati is a marketing genious, he knows little about the game on the field. Gulati should step down or forced to leave after the WC.

      • Yup. Sermani really did a great job with a very young and inexperienced Australian team at the last World Cup. And we’re seeing the continued benefits of that in this World Cup. Only Rapinoe putting the US on her back and dragging the team to victory kept the match against Australia from being a draw. Their website was obnoxious but correct about the match — we played 1960s English soccer versus the Australians. Yes, they got beat 3-1, but they saw the way they got beat and took real confidence from the match.

        We are now paying for Pia Sundhage’s terrible management. Very few young promising players in the pipeline and relying on players in their mid to late 30s (or 40 in the case of Rampone). Sundhage showed her skill in this World Cup — she had no answers for the Nigerians or the Germans, and only managed a “good” result against Ellis’ equally cluleless coaching.

        I wish Gulati had the courage to fire Sundhage years ago.

  10. The daily indictments of Jill Ellis on this site have become boring beyond belief. The line of people who will be out there to say “I told you so” if the women do not win the WWC will be 100 miles long, and every single one of you will imagine that you were “original” in your thinking.

    Guess what? Ellis won the Algarve Cup (Remind me again how Sermanni did) . We beat an Australia team 3-1 that took out Brazil. We very easily beat a Colombia team that beat France 2-0. Simply stated, Jill Ellis has yet to fail.

    Congratulations on your hater skills. To b honest, our players aren’t that great. Ellis has done just fine thus far making the most of what she has. How about rooting for your team for a change?

    • I have no due respect. Jill Ellis must go after this ends. We look terrible and are two steps behind Germany right now. Our defense has done well but thats where it stops.

      It will be good to see how we look without Holiday. I see this as no loss at all. Anybody has to be an improvement

      China is slow, Abby is slower. Sit Abby and go at them with speed. Either SIdney or AROD. with Morgan. Bench Heath as well and play O’reilly. We are getting nothing from Heath and she won’t stay out wide

      Knowing the way pea brain Ellis thinks, She will keep Abby, and try to resort to crossing into the giant for head balls. Of course, she hasn’t scored one in five games but no matter…she can’t miss them all. Damn turf

      • agree with all of your points..

        everybody is in love with Heath, but hasnt given much in the past couple games… HAO plays her heart out even if she only has one play in her arsenal (take on a defender on the right flank).

        Abby headers might work this time against the tiny chinese.

        Chalupny looked terrible in the couple minutes she played, she’s all rested and lost a couple balls, wtf?? and WHY is she subbing on LB when you have Kelly O’hara on the bench???

        it is cronism on Ellis to have Chalupny, Boxx both over 30’s slow players with a few games in 2015 with the USWNT.

    • I agree with a lot of criticisms of the teams play, especially since I have made many of the same ones myself. However, on thinking about it, I think Ellis has made a conscious decision, and whether you like it or not, it’s working. Commentator Tony D keeps saying about how the backline should be playing further up. He and others say we should play a 4-3-3. That’s all true if your goal is to score. I think Ellis has made the decision that the best way to win is to play Mourinho/Chelsea style or old style Italian football. It certainly works for Mourinho–he has a lot of hardware to prove it and it worked for the Italians for a WC championship and a WC final at the least. It’s hard to lose if the other team doesn’t score. It ain’t pretty, but a 1-0 win counts just as much as 3-1 or 4-0 or anything else. The most important thing so far for the US is that they have given up only 1 goal in four games. Anybody see Argentina vs. Jamaica the other day? Jamaica is something like the 58th ranked team in the world and Argentina is, well, Argentina. They have forwards who don’t even make their roster who could start for more than half the countries in the world. Yet they beat Jamaica only 1-0 and Jamaica had a number of chances in the last 10 minutes. “Negative football” works.

      • As a big USWNT (and US) fan, I hope you are right. But I worry that it just ain’t so. Ellis’ post-match comments (on TV and Sirius Radio) show that she doesn’t think there are any problems whatsoever. I’d feel better if she just said, “Yeah, we could have been better offensively, but our plan has always been to favor defending and it’s working well.”

        The other problem with this plan is that it just doesn’t make sense to do it in friendlies and in these early stages of the World Cup, especially in the women’s game. There’s a lot more parity in the men’s game — almost any team in the World Cup can, on a good day, beat any other team. And you can’t reasonably expect a team to score 3+ goals. Under those conditions, it is safer to go into lockdown as soon as you get a goal (or just go into lockdown from the beginning). You see it all the time in men’s WC matches, not just one’s involving the Italians. On the Women’s side though, it’s much safer to try and score 4, 5, 6 goals against a clearly weaker side. That guarantees you the win better than getting 1 goal and playing defense.

        BTW, see my post. Argentina won 1-0 not because it was the plan but because their coaching is awful.

  11. Just win baby….
    That’s true, but if we can’t show better against an inferior opponent, even when playing vs 10, something must change or we will go out.
    – The team has no shape. Passing lanes are nonexistent, the movement off the ball has disappeared.
    – Forget the poor trapping and passing from Holliday and Lloyd for a sec… There is no form in midfield, and making it worse is the space behind those two in front of the back line. The lack of someone playing a 6 is killing us
    – The back line is too deep most of the time, making those two even less effective.
    – Heath wants to play inside, whether by design or not. If she’s gonna cheat inside to help LH and CL, the passing in the middle should improve, but it isn’t…leaving space on the flank. Now with Krieger on the right that may be ok vs. who we’ve played, but it will get exposed vs Germany or France
    -The communication seems nonexistent also. Long balls played when the forwards want it at them, and vicee-verseee. The only times they connected passes in the middle 3rd was when Abby dropped and laid balls off. She may be old & slow, but she still knows what to do.

    It looks like Morgan Brian is getting the start for Holliday, but she couldn’t connect one pass the half she played, hopefully she got her 1st game jitters out of the way.
    And I don’t understand why O’Reilly hasn’t seen the field on the right side….

    Too much talent for what we’ve seen so far

    P.S. Abby, use your right foot

    • I agree with your points. I have found it frustrating to watch this team with all their success since the ’90s. They could be so much more. One other thing driving me nuts is that when a US player challenges the ball, then that player passes and moves up the field, inevitably the US refuses to go with the player who just released the ball and therefore she is open all the time. Colombia had so much possession by playing balls back to the player who just released as they moved forward. Only Rapinoe stayed with her player and the Colombians had so much less possession on that side. It’s so fundamental. Even when we had a player advantage post red card, our players did not go with players still giving Colombia a consistently easy, high percentage pass. It’s juvenile defending.

      • agree, the defending by US forwards and mid is non existant, the team has regressed. Reilly, Holliday and Lloyd play too high at the same time and are too slow to recover.

        Holliday scares everytime she gets the ball on offense or defense, it takes her a good 2 or 3 seconds to setup the ball to her right foot, I’ve noticed players are on her immediately. She will costs us a goal that probably will send us home.

    • Actually Brian did have a couple nice serves — particularly on the shot Johnston had in front of the goal but couldn’t handle. Agree she needs to pass with more confidence and authority. Totally agree w/ regard to O’Reilly. Ellis needs to get over her self and put HAO on the pitch pronto– especially with Rapinoe out.

      The one place where passing does seem to be working is getting the ball to Alex. Rapinoe gave her a nice thru ball on the play that led to the red card and PK, and Alex did a nice job using the triangle to get the ball back at a dangerous angle and put a shot on goal — even if the keeper mishandled the play…. Morgan is finding ways to get the ball and as she’s in there more, her teammates should be able to time passing better.

      • Yea I’m hoping she just had the first game jitters because she’s better than that. She’s going to need to be against China, not because of their quality, but because we are probably going to need her at some point if we’re gonna make a run at this thing.
        You’re right about Alex Morgan, you can see her confidence and quality improving the last game and a half…not the issue..
        And frankly nor is Abby. What you lose with Abby on the field is the ability to hi press the opposition backline, but you could tell her positioning was always right….
        They’re just not a unit..period

      • What Hao offers is energy, but seriously her game is pretty limited to running the touch line and serving up crosses for Abby. It would make this team even more one dimensional. but as long as Wambach is on the field this is how they will play… Slow… Long balls to the corners followed by an attempt to cross. The other play is a high ball to Abby closer to mid field followed by a flick on to Morgan who pretty much then must beat the defense on her own or get to the end line in the hopes that someone else made a run. HAO will not change that formula.

      • I’m sorry, but this aint gonna work against germany, france, japan. They have much better defenders who can match Alex’s speed.

      • No they don’t. Germany’s backline is slow and France are indifferent defending. This team is constructed to play smothering defense and use long balls to score goals with an emergency 4-3-3 late if we desperately need a goal with speedy subs to take advantage of a tired midfield and backline. We play direct soccer and people need to deal with it. I don’t believe Morgan is fully fit but no one that is left in the cup who plays defense on any team we will realistically meet. Has her speed The African teams are gone and Australia/Netherlands etc… wont make it past Japan.

      • Completely true. Morgan is showing why she’s probably the best player in the world right now. Coming off a months long injury into some pretty big games, she’s provided a much needed spark to the offense. She would almost certainly have scored if she had not been fouled (and drawn the PK) and her goal was one of the best offensive plays the USWNT has shown in a while.

        However, you don’t need to have her speed to defend against her, especially if she’s paired with Wambach, just good soccer IQ and positioning. Wambach is very one-dimensional. If she receives the ball and she’s not within 3 yards of the box, she usually kills the play with a poor pass or getting caught in possession. Notice that Morgan always looks to send the final pass to Wambach and NEVER EVER the other way around. This makes defending against a 4-4-2 with Wambach and Morgan on top easier because defenders know how the play is going to go — if Wambach is in front of the goal mouth, then Morgan will pass to her and if she isn’t, then Morgan has to go to goal herself. There isn’t going to be any give and go between them.

        It’s why I’m hoping that some day, the coaching staff will give a Morgan-Leroux or Morgan-Press tandem a real try, and not just one token match because Wambach is injured or tired. It takes a while for a pair to mesh, but those three are all so fast and so good that it creates a nightmare for defenders. You’ve got to double-team them if you really want to lock them down, but then what do you do about the other one?

    • Disagree to some extent. Morgan is looking better and better. But the critique here about the formation is straight on and Ellis isn’t using the best formation for the personnel on the pitch. Also sitting O’Reilly and O’Hara makes no sense.

    • I loved Michelle Akers comment, “If she (Jill Ellis) is pleased with the way we played tonight then, what the hell is she doing coaching our U.S. team.”

  12. I think the us had a solid game. It wasn’t perfect, but at the end of the day we were a couple of inches away from beating Colombia 4-0, and Colombia never really had any serious scoring opportunities. Our defense has still only given up 1 goal in 4 games. I feel better after the nearly dominant performance tonight than the past 2 games.

  13. This US team reminds me of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup. They will have an inevitable meeting with Germany in the semis.


  14. The Colombians are very clever with the ball and very fancy, but they never really posed a threat, even when the teams were even strength. I;’m sure a lot of people will complain about the US and they didn’t play very well. The bottom line is that they won and are moving on and Colombia, Brazil, and Norway aren’t. As Al Davis used to say, Just win, baby. As they say about the NCAA college basketball tournament, it’s survive and advance. It doesn’t matter how you play, but that you win. We can’t expect joga bonita, but as long as they win, I’m not going to complain at this point.

    • France lost to them 2-0. 1-0 might be a fluke but 2-0 is domination. Colombia are not stupid. They are a team that would make a QF easy in the other half of the bracket.

      • The point is that according to the article they were a 1-woman team, meaning they played with only 1 woman. The rules allow you to play with 11, unless of course somebody gets a red card. The article does mention a red card, so perhaps it can be inferred that they started with 2 women? Either way, Colombia are pretty stupid to not be playing with 11.

  15. Yeesh. We won…but man, I hate the way we play.

    That stodgy 4-4-2 is horrible for this bunch. Why on Earth you wouldn’t play a 4-3-3 and press high when you’ve got forwards like Wambach, Morgan, Syd Leroux, Press, and Rodriguez I have no idea. Why on Earth you wouldn’t play a 4-3-3 when you’ve got two superstuds like Rapinoe and Tobin Heath at outside mid who like to tuck in naturally anyhow I have no idea…then you just let Carly Lloyd do what Carly Lloyd does, which is run around above the defenders blowing people up and winning headers as your 6, and then let that backline and Solo do what they do, which is erase people.

    Instead we’re playing clunky longball with some CM’s who can’t even string two passes together or connect in any way, shape, form, or fashion to the forwards, and we aren’t getting our dynamic players on the ball nearly enough…you know, like Alex Morgan, who is starting to show that form again that indicates she’s probably the best player in the world…and Sydney Leroux isn’t just not on the ball, she isn’t even on the field right now.


    The USSF men are converting to a German-style 4-3-3 before our very eyes; why the same hasn’t been insisted upon with the women – especially with the talent pool we have – I have no idea. Say what you want about Title IX, but the US women will never lack for talent or athletes. Why you’d shackle them with a stodgy stock-standard 4-4-2 instead of just turning them loose I will never understand.

    • This is so true. Maybe it’s time US Soccer asks Klinsy if he has a little bit more free time to take on another project . . . I am only half-kidding there.

    • I am grateful to Coach Ellis for showing the world what “one dimensional” soccer looks like. If we don’t change, we are gonna get found out if not in the next game, then the one after that.


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