The U.S. women’s national team is on to the quarterfinal round of the 2016 Rio Olympics after wrapping up group play against Colombia on Tuesday, coming from behind in the first half, then coughing up a stoppage-time lead to end 2-2.
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USWNT head coach Jill Ellis elected to make four changes to the starting lineup having already secure progression to the knockout stage, where they’ll take on a third-place side — likely to be one of Australia, China, Sweden or South Africa) from Group E or Group F Friday night Brasilia.
Hope Solo committed a gigantic gaffe in the 26th minute, when Catalina Usme’s free kick squirted right through the American goalkeeper’s hands and legs for the game’s opening goal. Usme’s goal represented the first time the Colombians had ever scored against the USWNT.
The lead lasted for all of 15 minutes, thanks to Crystal Dunn, who bagged her 11th goal of 2016 in the 41st minute. Carli Lloyd fired a shot that smashed against the crossbar and caromed back into the field of play. With three Colombian defenders scrambling inside the box, Dunn was first to the ball and slotted it through traffic for the equalizer not long before halftime.
Megan Rapinoe made her first appearance at any level in eight months (torn ACL), starting the game and playing the first 30 minutes before she was replaced by Mallory Pugh. It was the 18-year-old who scored the USWNT’s second goal, slotting the ball through traffic after a powerful horizontal dribble through the Colombian penalty area. It was Pugh’s fourth USWNT goal after making (and scoring on) her international debut in January.
All looked to be in order to finish the group stage with a perfect record of three wins, no losses and no draws, until Usme uncorked another free kick, this one stunningly placed into the upper-90 (after Solo’s attempted punch came up empty), to secure a famous result for the side that ultimately finishes fourth in Group G, but does so with much enthusiasm and promise for the future.