Megan Rapinoe had yet another great game in the 2012 Olympics. She had one assist and one goal in the match against Colombia today. In a match that was chippy and uneven, Rapinoe was able to focus and carry the match. It seemed as if the Colombian's game plan was to disrupt and slow the game any chance they got. That tactic will only work for so long. The US adjusted their play, shrugged off the thuggery and stuck to their own plan of winning simply.
Unlike their game against the French, this game was started quickly. They applied pressure from the first kick. Colombia found themselves on their heels right away. In the ninth minute Lauren Cheney actually scored a goal that was called back, because she might have pulled the defender down out of her way before poking it in. The US would have two more goals called back for various infractions during this game.
Abby Wambach took a sweet through pass from Rapinoe in the 11th minute and rifled a shot on frame, only to see the keeper touch it over the bar for a corner. One of their six corners of the game. Colombia had no corners in this match. They only had one shot on frame, and it was from well beyond the 18. In the 14th minute the Colombian keeper was able to intercept a fantastic cross from streaking a Kelley O'Hara. Both Morgan and Wambach were crashing the net when the keeper dove out to catch it.
During the goal kick on the ensuing play, Carli Lloyd (who also had another outstanding game), was fouled. Captain Rampone stepped up and blasted a hanging ball right to Abby's head for a flick on goal. It sailed just wide right. The pressure was relentless, and the US back four controlled most of the attempts handily whenever Colombia broke through.
Alex "Baby Horse" Morgan's role in this game seemed to be one of setting up the plays, dishing in the crosses and otherwise harassing and wearing down their defense. She had the assist on Megan Rapinoe's goal in the 33rd minute. Morgan scooped up a loose ball in the Colombian's attacking third and dished it to Rapinoe, who took two touches before sending it bending home through two defenders.
In the 39th minute, there was a nasty foul off the ball that was not seen by the ref. Lady Andrade actually punched Abby Wambach in the face while they were running down the field. Abby was trying to get into position in the middle for the coming cross when Lady grabbed her shoulder and threw the punch. Abby went down in a heap, and no foul was called. I would hope that the FIFA and Olympic officials will review this and issue a one game suspension at the least. After the game, Abby was asked about getting punched in the eye.
"It is what it is. That was a tactic of theirs, to slow the game down, do whatever they can to try to get us off our game. FIFA and the Olympic Committee should look at the film and see what really happened. I’m glad that a black eye is the only thing that came out of that game in terms of an injury."
Rapinoe nearly got a second goal in first half stoppage time, but it was cleared off the line by a defender. She had two more shots on frame in the second half, in the 58th and 60th minutes. According the the USWNT press release, Megan was asked if she feels that she is "in the zone" in this Olympics.
"I don’t know if I’m in the zone. I’m feeling good though and obviously playing with a lot of confidence. I felt like I had a lot of space today and at times when I get the ball I just want to be aggressive."
In the 74th minute, Tobin Heath slotted a ball through to Abby Wambach who had to fight through two defenders at once in order to slide her 140th international goal home. The USA never took their foot off the pedal, and continued to battle and pressure the Colombian side. In the 77th minute, after some nifty passing around the top, Rapinoe found Carli Lloyd at the top of the box who went right down the middle for the goal.
After the third goal was scored, Coach Pia pulled out Wambach and put in Sounder Sydney Leroux. In the 81st minute, in bright sunshine and falling rain, Rapinoe was pulled out to a big round of applause. Amy Rodriguez came in for her. Coach Pia had this to say about Megan's impact on the game today:
"If we had been finding her a little more often on the left side, we would’ve had a better game in the first half, at least. She makes good decisions and the way she is playing, she had a huge impact on the game. She’s had two good games and hopefully it stays like that."
There were no more goals, but there were plenty of attempts. The women in the red hoops and navy shorts dominated the game and all but clinched their place in the quarterfinals. They have to complete their group play against the North Koreans on the 31st at 9:15am, PST. France beat the North Koreans today 5-0. the top two teams from each group will move on to the quarterfinals. Two third place teams (based upon performance), will also move on.
By the way, happy 28th birthday to Ali Krieger. She's the one that Rapinoe held up the sign for. She is the usual left back on the National Team, but was lost to a torn MCL/ACL in the Olympic qualifier in January. Her loss has been evident on this back line, because there was no one in line behind her. Coach Pia has been forced to rotate players through that position, never really settling on one in particular. This team, and this fan miss her.