The U.S. women are already through to the quarterfinals, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take it easy against Colombia on Tuesday evening. After eeking by France in their last match, there may be some areas the team will focus on ahead of the knockout stage.
A deep squad that will look to rest key players and give time to others, the United States will want to keep things moving, as a loss before the quarters begins would put unwanted doubt into their minds before the one-and-done matches begin.
There are a few key areas where head coach Jill Ellis needs to make key decisions. The most important seems to involve the two injured starters Julie Johnston and Mallory Pugh. The pair sat out the last match against France, and while Ellis could rest them against Colombia too, ensuring their problems are long past once the quarterfinals, that could leave them dangerously rusty. Conversely, she could give them action to bring them back up to speed, but risk the injuries returning. Ellis has said they are both available, whatever that means.
Megan Rapinoe could see the field, something she hasn’t done yet in Rio. This might be the perfect chance to see how her knee holds up. 32-year-old Ali Kreiger could make it back into the starting lineup for the first time these Olympics as well.
For Colombia, they may be winless and in desperate need of a result, but they also may be depleted beyond recognition. Star striker Lady Andrade might be forced to sit due to exhaustion…or will she?
The U.S. defeated Colombia twice in April, by a combined 10-0, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Thus, Ellis has some decisions to make, and depending on what she’d like the team to get out of it, there are a few different directions to take.