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USWNT Barely Survive Late Show From Colombia To Top Group G

The USWNT drew 2-2 against Colombia to top Group G in Manaus on Tuesday. Goals from Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh for the U.S. were cancelled out by two free kicks from Maria Catalina Usme, one of which was the result of an error by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.


Photo: @BleacherReport | Twitter

The major plotline coming into the game was the return of Megan Rapinoe for her first game since her ACL injury last year. The USWNT knew that a win or a draw was good enough to top the group, while Colombia were already mathematically eliminated. 

The USWNT started on top, as expected really, but some desperate defending from the Colombians kept them at bay for the first 15 minutes. Carli Lloyd hit the bar after a wicked cross from Rapinoe, but other than that, the USWNT struggled to get a clear shot at goal in the first 20 minutes. 

In fact, it would be Colombia who opened the scoring in shocking circumstances. Rapinoe conceded the free kick around 25 yards out on the right side of the box, and Maria Catalina Usme sent her curling shot right through the legs of Hope Solo. It was a horrible, and uncharacteristic, mistake from the U.S. keeper. 

However, it never seemed likely that the U.S. would stay down for long, and they didn't. Carli Lloyd broke through the defense in the 41st minute, and her powerful shot was parried onto the bar by Sandra Sepulveda. The ball bounced back towards the penalty spot where Crystal Dunn was waiting to tap it in. 

A draw would have been enough to see the USWNT top the group, but they didn't look content to play for a solitary point, a point that was exemplified when they brought on Alex Morgan for Carli Lloyd at the half. 

The U.S. were dominant but were slow in their buildup, so the beginning of the second half dragged a little bit. Horan had a good chance saved by Sepulveda, while Alex Morgan sent a shot just over. 

The USWNT finally upped the tempo as Crystal Dunn charged down the left side in the 59th minute. Her ball eventually made its way to 18-year-old Mallory Pugh, who dribbled inside, sold the entire defense and finished with the clinicism of someone twice her age. It was a brilliant,  brilliant goal and it made Pugh the youngest scorer for the USWNT in Olympic competition. 

The game died down significantly after the goal, as the USWNT settled on the ball and snuffed out everything Colombia had to offer. Usme had another chance with a free kick late in the half, but it clipped the top of the crossbar. 

Then, in stoppage time, Usme again got a set piece, this time towards the corner flag. She whipped it in with a venomous pace and it nestled in the corner of the net. Questions again had to be asked of Hope Solo as she misread the flight of the ball coming in. 

The game ended 2-2, prompting mixed feelings. The USWNT topped the group, but their weakness at set pieces could be a concern going forward into the quarterfinals. 

Follow me on Twitter @J_Hansen_89

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