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USWNT 2, Colombia 0: The SBI Breakdown



Photo by Michael Chow/USA TODAY Sports



After pressing through the tournament’s group stages on the back of a strong defensive unit and a sputtering attack, it was more of the same from the U.S. Women’s National Team on Monday night.

Led by a strong defensive performance, the U.S. overcame a missed penalty kick to top Colombia, 2-0, in the Round of 16 matchup. For the U.S., a similar theme shined through, as the team was dominant on one half of the field while providing few nervy moments in the attacking end.

However, the team did exactly what was expected, earning a spot in the quarterfinal round while giving us a closer look at what this team will need to improve upon going forward.

Here are SBI’s takeaways from the USWNT’s win over Colombia:


When measuring the USWNT’s success thus far, it’s hard not to credit the team’s centerback duo with leading the way.

Having allowed just one goal all tournament, Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn have been rocks, and that was once again apparent on Monday night against Colombia.

Faced with a Colombia side that was heavily reliant on technique and trickery, Johnston and Sauerbrunn led the way in squashing any and every opportunity, as Colombia failed to muster a truly dangerous attack.

Monday’s performance once again lends credence to the thought process that the defensive unit may be just enough to lead the way going forward as the U.S. gets deeper and deeper into a tournament run.

Can the U.S. rely on a defensive approach to stop powers like France or Germany? We’ll have to see, but everything Johnston and Sauerbrunn have shown so far demonstrate that it might just be possible.


Once again, the U.S. attack sputtered, but once again, it wasn’t enough to hold the team back from picking up another victory.

In a game that saw Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach earn starts up top, the U.S. struggled mightily in the first half. Appearing to be a bit to reliant on the long ball once again, creativity failed to shine, as the team struggled to create meaningful chances or maintain possession in and around the box.

Things looked slightly better in the second half as Colombia went down to 10 women, but even then it was far from a promising sight against a team praying to just remain in the game with a third-string goalkeeper.

There are plenty of positives for the U.S. up front. Alex Morgan is beginning to look more and more like her old self as she recovers from injury. Despite her mistakes, Wambach was put in positions to score, and history shows that nine times out of 10, nights like Monday night won’t happen.

Still, this U.S. team can’t become too complacent, no matter how good the defense is. The USWNT has long had a history of smashing teams in their path, and while the game has certainly caught up around the world, we haven’t seen anything resembling a dominant win quite yet.

For those to come, things will need to be a bit more fluid, a bit more creative and a bit more clinical. Taking on what should be an overmatched China team, the U.S. has one more chance to really put things together before running into teams that will be even more difficult to break down.


It’s never ideal to see two starters suspended, but for the USWNT, the absences of Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday could just be a blessing in disguise.

The two midfielders will miss out on the USWNT’s clash with China on Friday, a matchup that the U.S. enters as heavy favorites to win, with or without the duo. That fact makes their loss much less devastating, especially given the fact it could open the door for some different looks for the U.S.

Rapinoe is likely to be replaced by Christen Press or Heather O’Reilly, and while neither possess the creativity Rapinoe does, they may open the door for the U.S. attack to be much less reliant on the midfielder’s playmaking ability.

Meanwhile, Holliday will likely be spelled by youngster Morgan Brian, giving the 22-year-old another taste of the big stage after two earlier appearances.

Overall, the pair of suspensions open up quite a few doors for the U.S., doors that may force the team to step out of its comfort zone and actually produce.


  1. I understand that people are used to our USWNT being unchallenged in the world. Every tight game is met with pundits letting us know that somehow JE screwed up because we didn’t win 10-0. It was nice to read a more balanced article. The truth is there are now more than 10 other nations that have “caught up” to USWNT and this championship is much more exciting because of it. When competition is closer wins and the tactics that bring them are much more pragmatic. Kudos to JE and her squad reaching the Quarters and having the confidence to go deeper.

    • Watch closer, SAUERBRUNN has been every bit as good and has even bailed Johnston out multiple times when she was beat

      • Because our midfield is in desperation for this match. And Rampone is the most likely person on the bench who can start and have a good performance. Brian isnt ready, she showed nothing in her sub performance. Our midfield has already struggled with Lloyd and Cheney, now with Cheney on the bench you need to put your strongest lineup out there, and Rampone in with Johnston at defensive mid freeing up lloyd is THE strongest lineup option we have.

        Remember Rampone and Becky played multiple olympics and world cups together

      • If you want to put a slow 40 year old on the back line for a World Cup game, more power to you. I’ll take a chance on Brian and Press.

      • Thats why every player that theyve interviewed about Rampone has said shes the fastest player on the team still? Open your ears

      • Your right, everyone on the team is a liar, you know it all, you know the personal file and the fitness test times better than anyone.

      • Vlad, keep going buddy. You are within sight of your dream of reconstituting the lineup from 4 years ago, or maybe 8 years ago. Now if only we can figure out a way to get Boxx in there . . .

      • Alex might be the fastest over 50 meters and she has good twitch but she is not “quick” and her awkward galloping stride is not conducive to producing goals from the midfield. We need another forward who is more three dimensional to play with her and Abby who are two sides of the same direct soccer coin. We need Christen Press or Leroux up top but preferably Press. She can create her own goals unassisted and with that thee front we will score.

      • I agree with Vlad. Rampone is the choice that makes the most sense. If she is fit enough to win a roster spot she is fit enough to play AND has the experience to play correctly in a knock out round match.

  2. USA needs to play more “Arsenally”. Quicker passes, players moving more or not moving to provide give and goes, players checking to and away from the ball. And of course they need to get the ball wider and get to the base line for crosses.

  3. Morgan Brian shouldnt be starting in the midfield.

    If anything, china has had a fairly anemic attack, so if you can get a good 60-70 minutes out of Rampone, you start her and becky in the back, and push Johnston to defensive mid where she plays in the womens league and does extremely well. I can see Press getting the nod but at this point id like to see what either O’rielly or possibly even O’hara can show in that position. Brian doesnt have the experience, at all, and showed very little in her sub performance

    • I thought putting JJ at the 6 would be the way to go before the tourney started. I thought the US badly needed a true 6 so that they would not get overrun. Thought she would be the answer. With all of that said, I can’t see how it would make sense to move her now. She has been the best player for the US. Keep here put and let he keep doing what she is doing. The defense has been great, don’t fix anything that is not broken. Brian will just have to step up.

      • Saurbrunn and Klingenberg have both been better. Krieger is riding on her name and past accomplishments. I think she is still suffering concussion symptoms because most of the action that we do see in our 18 yard box is coming in from the right and Krieger is often out of position.

  4. This article is a welcome break from the doom and gloom emanating from this site regarding the USWNT. Only nitpick is that Morgan Brian is 22, not 19.

    • In the knockout stages of a major tournament, there are two rules. Rule 1 is that results count. Rule 2 is that only rule 1 really matters, everything else is superfluous. There is an old saying that statistics are for losers. Colombia played very attractive soccer and looked really skilled on the ball and they’re going home. Norway looked like the better team most of the game against England, but England scored more goals. There are no style points in soccer. A simple tap in counts the same as a wonder strike from 40 yards out. Yes, these are all truisms said many times before, but people seem to forget them.

      • No one’s forgetting the truisms. If this was the Men’s team, you’d see only positives. But for the women, anything less than the finals is a failure. And watching their play right now, it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances of beating Germany or France.
        There’s nothing wrong with not gushing over an expected victory, and hoping they up their game before playing a serious competitor.

      • Exactly! You can’t say, “See? We beat Colombia so everything’s okay.” It’s like saying, “See the Argentinian men’s team beat Jamaica 1-0, so everything’s ok.” Everything isn’t okay.

        I agree that getting the result is the most important thing. My point (and the point of most commentators and commenters) is that we are NOT going to get a result against Germany or maybe France or maybe Japan if we continue to play like this.

        Remember that Swedish team we couldn’t threaten? Germany had no problems tacking four goals on them. And the 4-1 scoreline flattered Sweden. Germany was utterly dominant in that match. Remember our scoreless draw against S. Korea? Well, France had no problems sending them home.

        I’m a big USWNT fan. I completely support our ladies. But sticking our heads in the sand and pretending there isn’t a problem isn’t going to make things better.

      • That’s what Brazil’s men’s team was doing, sending home Chile and Columba, until they met Germany in the semi finals. And by the way, if the USWNT make it to the semi finals, they are likely to face Germany that dominated against Sweden and scored 4 goals against the defense that the USWNT could not break. Stronger opponents will punish mistakes and lack of cohesion that lesser opponents could not exploit.

      • Sweden scored on Germany and missed a 1v1 opportunity and a point blank header. That match could easily have been 4-3 or 3-2. Sweden didn’t get a sniff of anything like that against us offensively except the blocked goaline shot that KLingenbergs defensive class saved. In other words, Sweden ran wild on Germany a few times. Germany might score A goal against us but we will score on them because their backline is slow and they are lazy marking on set pieces.

    • Pretty typical second-rate reporting found on here lately in terms of fact-checking. it is nice to see some original content/thought for once rather than a regurgitation of another site’s post or some player’s twitter or instagram account.


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