USA-Colombia: Solo finally meets her match

The USA accomplished what it set out to do, and that's win its group at the Olympic women's soccer competition and move into the quarterfinals, where it will face Sweden on Friday.

It will be a rematch of their meeting at the 2015 Women's World Cup -- the only match the USA didn't win -- against its former coach, Pia Sundhage.

The USA will be coming off a disappointing performance against Colombia's unfancied Cafeteras, who played the game of their lives and earned a 2-2 draw.

1. Solo is unfazed by howlers, but Brazilian media revel.

Since she took over as the USA's starting keeper following her famous omission from the 2007 Women's World Cup semifinal against Brazil that the USA lost, 4-0, and cost Greg Ryan his job, Hope Solo has led the USA to Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012, the Women's World Cup championship in 2015 and second place at the Women's World Cup in 2011 when the USA lost to Japan in a shootout in the final.

That kind of success has helped keep her on the national team despite off-the-field incidents that included her arrest on domestic violence charges in 2014 and her suspension in early 2015 following the DUI arrest of her husband after they used a team van at training camp. Sixteen years after debuting for the USA, Solo was having a career year in 2016 -- 13 shutouts in 15 games, just four goals allowed and a goal-against average of 0.28, the lowest in any year during which she played 10 or more games -- until Tuesday.

USA-Colombia: U.S. Player Ratings

Twice, Catalina Usme beat Solo on free kicks, the first two goals Colombia has ever scored against the USA, and Solo should have stopped both goals. Usme's first free kick slipped through Solo's hands and into the goal in the 26th minute. The USA recovered to take a 2-1 lead on goals by Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh, the first Olympic goals for both teams, but Usme earned Colombia its first point in two Olympics when she fired a free kick from a sharp angle that Solo couldn't handle in the 90th minute.

Brazilian media reveled in the misery of the U.S. keeper whose Zika comments made her enemy No. 1 in Brazil, pointing out her "frangos" or howlers. Solo's immediate reaction? “I’ll choose to have short-term memory," she said in her NBC post-game interview.

2. Ellis faces lineup decisions for quarterfinals.

Besides Solo, only four players who started the opening game against New Zealand started on Tuesday against Colombia: co-captains Becky Sauerbrunn and Carli Lloyd, Kelley O'Hara and Morgan Brian. The goal was to rotate as many players as possible and get as many players rest ahead of the grueling knockout stage that starts on Friday when the USA faces Sweden in the midday heat in Brasilia.

Coach Jill Ellis gave Megan Rapinoe her first action since suffering a knee injury in December. The surprise was that Ellis started Rapinoe, who played just 32 minutes before being substituted. It was Rapinoe's foul that led to the free kick Usme converted for the opening goal.

Rio Olympics: Women's Soccer, Day 3

It's hard to imagine that Ellis will start Rapinoe, but she'll need Tobin Heath, who was rested to Tuesday, to provide the playmaking that has otherwise been lacking throughout the tournament. Pugh, who had sat out the France game with an ankle injury, came on for Rapinoe and did very well to move through the Colombian penalty area and score what looked to be the winning goal until Solo's second blunder.

Ellis will have a couple of tough choices, deciding between Pugh and Dunn on the wing opposite Heath and between Lindsey Horan and Allie Long in central midfield with Brian.

The USA will also want Julie Johnston back in the lineup. Johnston, who dominates in the air, again sat out after suffering a groin injury.

3. Usme's achievement will serve as inspiration.

Colombia will have been disappointed not to duplicate its feat of a year ago when it reached the knockout phase at the Women's World Cup. It stunned France, 2-0, for its first and only victory in the Women's World Cup or Olympics but dug itself a hole at this year's Olympics when it lost to the Bleues in a rematch, 4-0.

The Cafeteras had little chance of advancing to the quarterfinals, but Coach Felipe Taborda was sandbagging on Monday when he downplayed their chances  against the USA, saying Usme had injured her knee and Lady Andrade and Carolina Arias were suffering from "exhaustion." All three players started on Tuesday. Usme not only scored twice on free kicks but put a third off the crossbar.

Usme's achievement registered barely a blip back in Colombia, still celebrating Oscar Figueroa's gold medal in weight-lifting, just the second in Colombia's Olympic history, but it will serve an inspiration for young female players in a country where women's soccer suffers from indifference.

18 comments about "USA-Colombia: Solo finally meets her match".
  1. Dan Eckert, August 10, 2016 at 7:26 a.m.

    OK - goal #1 was a Solo mistake - it's a much tougher safe than you realize - but nonetheless it should have been stopped. The 2nd goal however, was just an amazing kick. The ball actually accelerated it headed to the corner. Her timing was just a bit off - but she would have needed to add an addition 2" to her leap to get a solid enough fist on that ball to parry it over the post. Say what you will about be Solo - I know most GKs would have crumbled given the pressure she's under (most of it self-inflicted and preventable - but that's also what we love about her too).

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2016 at 8:02 a.m.

    On a practice field without players screening the ball Solo should have saved that first free kick. The power and flight of the shot make that task very iffy under game conditions, which is why everyone tries to send and screen balls like that. Few succeed.

  3. Bob Ashpole, August 10, 2016 at 8:09 a.m.

    An unfortunately typical emotional piece of reporting, castigating Solo rather than praising Usme. You dishonor Usme's performance.

  4. Ginger Peeler replied, August 10, 2016 at 11:47 a.m.

    Frankly, I didn't see any castigating. And the column was written by a man who works for SoccerAmerica, which has always, ALWAYS, been about the USA first and foremost, usually presented from a USA perspective.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2016 at 2:14 p.m.

    "Solo is unfazed by howlers..."

  6. Phil Love, August 10, 2016 at 8:38 a.m.

    Usme's shots were hit hard, bending, and on goal - big credit to her on both goals, but Solo's post-game comments echoed what most of us saw on both goals - she should have saved both of them.

  7. trebor gt, August 10, 2016 at 8:45 a.m.

    Every great keeper makes mistakes. Agree the first should have been saved. The second was a rocket and perfectly placed. What got us to those set pieces is what worries me. Hopefully that will e by far our worst outing of the Olympics. Rapinoe looked exhausted after 20 minutes and probably should have come on as a sub instead of starting.

  8. Gus Keri, August 10, 2016 at 9:10 a.m.

    Not to take away from Usme's performance, I think the Brazilian crowds are affecting Solo very badly. No matter how tough she is trying to look, Solo is feeling the pressure. It's not easy to be singlehandedly abused by the crowds on a permanent basis.

  9. ROBERT BOND, August 10, 2016 at 9:19 a.m.

    should have backed up before jumping, had enough time.....this is why you have 2 GKs, should have seen the 2nd in 2nd half.....

  10. Margaret Manning replied, August 10, 2016 at 4:24 p.m.

    Ah, so many keeper coaches. Please volunteer for the team.

  11. Richard Brown, August 10, 2016 at 9:21 a.m.

    What about our high divers they want them to dive in green pool water.

    I just thought I would throw that in.

    My son goes to Brazil for Brazilian Jujitsu tournaments. They told him not to leave the compound.

    The street kids in Brazil are glue sniffers and rob tourists. So much so that local store owners hire hit squads to kill them. The government put a stop to that.

    Going there learn to use a knife.

  12. Victor Mathseon replied, August 10, 2016 at 10:06 a.m.

    While street crime is clearly an issue in Brazil, I just got back from Rio and the police presence is massive and is clearly aimed at both preventing routine robberies as well as major terrorist incidents. With officers on what seemed like every corner, the only time I felt unsafe was when I accidentally wore my Flamengo jersey past the Fluminense stadium and training grounds.

    Obviously, things may degenerate once the extra security goes home, but Olympics tourists appear to have no crime worries above what one would normally expect in any large city.

  13. stewart hayes, August 10, 2016 at 9:44 a.m.

    It was interesting to see how the US team and coach responded to being down. Of course no one wants to see your team in that situation but it was educational from a coaching perspective. We have highly talented and experienced players coming off the bench to start the game and these players could not put the game away. The touches were heavy and individuals were tentative. Rapinoe was pulled quickly which means she crossed a line the coach had told her not to cross. Credit goes to the youngest and least capped players for coming through in a big way. The veterans can take a lesson from them.

  14. John Munnell, August 10, 2016 at 9:56 a.m.

    I feel as if it has been two poor matches for Solo. Setting aside the 1st Columbian goal, she had problems against France and Columbia on flighted balls across her. Timing and footwork are off. I think the 2nd Columbian goal was a brilliant strike, which would have required a world class save. But Hope's footwork and choice of the right hand denied her the elevation she needed --- failure of technique from a keeper who is normally textbook perfect. I'm not happy with her distribution, either, but that might just be piling on. :-) In any case, I hope they can get her head straight in training.

  15. Ginger Peeler, August 10, 2016 at 11:34 a.m.

    Our USWNT is trying to accomplish something that no women's national team has managed the Olympics after winning the World Cup. It's not understood why no team has managed it so far, some speculate that it's some kind of letdown after the WC. I do believe there was a letdown after those first two Olympic wins. And no one has mentioned the toll taken by travel and the heat/humidity as was reported during the men's WC. Manaus is out in the boonies somewhere, can only be reached by water or air (and it's a long flight). I'm not trying to make excuses...but I think it's important to consider how everything is affecting our team. I've also read somewhere that the athletes have been encouraged not to go out at night, since several have been robbed; team quarters have also been ransacked. Zika is still a major in Florida they keep announcing new cases of the disease every week. So far, it's contained in one area; I expect it will be spreading as mosquitoes ride the winds to other areas. I sincerely hope our team can become the first to win the Olympics after following the World Cup win. Odds were that Solo would eventually have a rough game. Now she should be able to return to her winning form.

  16. Margaret Manning replied, August 10, 2016 at 4:29 p.m.

    The media ignore the fact that the team was already through and also the conditions in Manaus, which I can attest are challenging--I had heatstroke just attending the game in WC 2014. Also, the role of the other players in giving away two free kicks. Solo is a target because she is the premier keeper, and the Brazilians have gone nuts over her (very reasonable) precautions against Zika--which has devastated the Recife area. They seem to take those precautions as a personal insult to their national pride, which is just silly. But every time they chant ZIKA, they remind the world of the Zika virus, so that's a good thing.

  17. Richard Brown, August 10, 2016 at 1:32 p.m.

    I heard that Zika is limited to just a certain area in Florida. There is a mosquito they will release soon in that area. Then when they mate the baby mosquitos will die ending the problem there.

    My son and his wife were going to Costa Rica his company was doing it. So it was cancelled because of Zico so instead they gave all employees a 5000 dollar bonus instead.

  18. Richard Brown, August 10, 2016 at 1:36 p.m.

    Hello Vic guess who made up those hit squads it is the Brazilian police.

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