August 9, 2016
A SOLO STRUGGLE
Despite surrendering late free kick in 2-2 tie with Colombia, USA women still wins Olympic Group G
MANAUS, Brazil Ė Itís a good thing the United Statesí 2-2 draw with Colombia was a group stage match and not a knockout round encounter.
|Hope Solo struggled in the net for the USA women, who tied Colombia, 2-2, in their Group G finale.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
In one of her shakiest performances in 201 appearances with the national team, goalkeeper Hope Solo allowed two free kicks, including the equalizer by Catalina Usme in the 90th minute of their Group G encounter at Amazonia Arena Tuesday night.
Even though the Americans dropped points for the first time in the competition, they won the group. They will play a third-place team in a quarterfinal match in Brasilia Friday. Depending on the results of the day's latter matches, the USA will Sweden. The Swedes are directed by former USA coach Pia Sundhage.
Usme connected on her dramatic goal, drilling a free kick from the right side over the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Hope Solo, leaving the four-time gold medalists stunned. Kelley OíHara committed the foul to set up the free kick.
Usme became the first player to score two goals in a match against the USA since Brazilian standout Marta accomplished the feat in 2014.
"I don't wish it on anybody," Solo was quoted by the Associated Press. "Being a goalkeeper is extremely difficult. But I've been around long enough to know that these things do happen, they've happened to me before. You just hope that they happen few and far between."
That goal wasnít the poorest part of Soloís performance. That occurred in the first half.
Most of the opening half was played in the Colombian end as the Americans constantly pressured their foes.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd came close to giving the USA the lead in the third minute as her header off a Megan Rapinoe left-wing cross bounded off the crossbar and out of bounds. Rapinoe made her first start since October after injuring her ACL last December, although she was replaced by Mallory Pugh in the 33rd minute. Rapinoe is far from being fully fit and it was believed to have been a planned substitution.
On the South Americans' first penetration into USA territory, Rapinoe fouled Carolina Arbelaez 24 yards out on the right side. Usme fired a 24-yard free kick through the hands and legs of an embarrassed Solo and into the goal to lift Colombia into a stunning 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. It was the first time Colombia had scored against the red, white and blue.
"I have also learned to have a short-term memory," Solo was quoted by the AP. "So I'm just going to put this behind me and move on, because there's going to be some great football in the coming games and I'm going to have to come up big and keep our team in it."
The USA equalized in the 41st minute. Christen Press flicked a long pass to an onrushing Lloyd, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda. The ball bounded off the bar to Rockville Centre, N.Y. native Crystal Dunn, who slotted it home from five yards, knotting things up at 1-1.
It was the first Olympic goal for Dunn, who starred at South Side High School and played for the Albertson Fury and Rockville Centre Soccer Club.
The 18-year-old Pugh became the youngest American player to score an Olympic goal to break the deadlock in the 59th minute. After taking a pass from Dunn on the right side, the midfielder found some space for herself by running to her left before firing a shot from atop the box for a 2-1 advantage.
Then came Usme's 11th-hour heroics.
"It is what it is," U.S. captain Carli Lloyd said. "I'd rather two goals get let in like that in this game, than in a quarterfinal, a semifinal or a final match. Do we all know that we can play a lot better? Of course. But we met our objective and it's important to stay positive and take what we can out of these games."