Catalina Perez pulled off a number of spectacular saves to keep the United States, an established powerhouse of women’s soccer, at bay in the first half of the round of 16 match on Monday. Colombian star Lady Andrade challenged the U.S. ahead of the encounter predicting a Colombian victory.
For the first 45 minutes, Colombia lived up to Andrade’s words. But the 20-year-old Colombian custodian couldn’t hold on to her nerves, as she unleashed a reckless challenge on Alex Morgan at the edge of the penalty area in the 47th minute. The red shirt sophomore at University of Miami was red-carded and a stubborn Colombia became vulnerable with a woman down at Edmonton.
The much formidable United States side thrived, making the most of the one-woman advantage to pump in a couple of goals in the second half. Morgan and Carli Lloyd netted goals for the U.S. in quick succession, the latter scoring from a penalty kick. Veteran striker Abby Wambach missed a golden opportunity to equal Brazil’s Marta as the top-scorer of the World Cup when she missed from the spot. Marta has 15 goals in her kitty, while Wambach remained on 14.
The winners now face China in the quarterfinals, a rematch of the 1999 World Cup finals which the U.S. won in a penalty shoot-out. The U.S. attack was erratic and unconvincing throughout the 2nd round game, though the two-time champions can take inspiration from the fact that their defense hasn’t conceded for a long 333 minutes since it let in a goal against the Matildas in the early minutes of the tournament opener. Winger Megan Rapinoe, the most creative player of the U.S. squad in this tournament, and holding midfielder Lauren Holiday, picked up their second respective yellow cards on Monday and are ruled out of the quarterfinals. Morgan Brian and Christen Press are likely to replace them against China.