Hope, U.S. Blank Colombia, Advance to Quarterfinals

It was an uneventful game for Hope Solo, but it was a historic one, too.

No. 1 had only two routine saves in the United States’ 2-0 win over Colombia Monday, a victory that sent the Americans into the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup. But the match marked Hope’s 174th international appearance, moving her past Briana Scurry into sole possession of first place all-time among USWNT keepers.

It was also her third straight shutout, giving her 87 for her international career, and eight in FIFA World Cup play — slotting her just two behind Scurry’s all-time mark of 10.

Hope didn’t tally her first save until the 84th minute, when she made two in succession to preserve the clean sheet. In all, No. 1 hasn’t been deftly challenged since the World Cup opener against Australia, but midfielder Carli Lloyd assured that Hope is still very much involved in the American squad’s defensive initiatives.

“We have 100% faith in Hope and know that she’ll be ready. That’s what she does,” said Lloyd, who sent in the team’s second goal of the evening against Colombia. “She’s not just sitting back there and not having any action for 90 minutes. She’s organizing, she’s talking to center mids, she’s conducting everything back there. She’s come up big in big moments.”

Early on, the American side struggled to come up big in their big moments offensively. They nearly broke the scoreless tie just five minutes into the match, when Abby Wambach put the ball in the net past the diving Colombian goalkeeper, but the score was called back for an offsides violation. Five minutes later, the Colombian attack had their first true chance, but a free kick from the left side was cleared by the U.S. defense.

On the defensive end of the field for the U.S., the team’s stout strategy carried the day. Colombia managed 10 shots, only two of which were on goal, and both of those were erased by Hope. With No. 1 orchestrating on the back end, the American defense stopped everything that came their way, including three corners and numerous free kicks that resulted from a litany of fouls called against the USA.

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The USWNT was whistled for 21 fouls, compared to just 12 on Colombia, and the U.S team garnered two yellow cards in the first half, on Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe. Neither Holiday or Rapinoe was carded again, but both players carried a card into the match and after taking their second yellows of the tournament Monday, both will be forced to sit out the quarterfinal against China.

Holiday called hers a “weak yellow card,” and Rapinoe was also upset at the calls going against her side, but she remains confident that the deep American squad will be able to handle the absence of the two starters due to their depth.

“I knew [it meant missing the next game], of course,” Rapinoe said. “You can’t change too much how you play. Maybe I could have been a little bit more cautious, but I didn’t think the fouls were that bad. Yeah, it’s unfortunate both Holiday and I out for the next game. But we’ve got good players coming off the bench, so I don’t feel too bad about it.”

Despite the fouls, the U.S. attack still created numerous chances throughout the match, including 15 shots and six on goal, but they didn’t break through until the second half.

In the first minute after halftime, Colombian goalkeeper Catalina Perez was sent off with a red card after her slide tackle inside the box sent USWNT forward Alex Morgan tumbling to the turf. Abby Wambach sent the subsequent penalty kick wide left, but it didn’t take long for the Americans to capitalize on being up a player.

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In the 53rd minute, Morgan attacked the Colombians from the right flank and sent a shot on frame. It was deflected by Colombia’s replacement keeper, Stefany Castaño, but the ball still bounced through to put the U.S. up 1-0.

Then in the 66th minute, Rapinoe was taken down on a run inside the box by Angela Clavijo, and this time, USWNT head coach Jill Ellis sent Carli Lloyd to take the penalty kick. Lloyd caught the Colombian keeper leaning, and blasted a shot into the back of the net to the right, the easy PK goal making it 2-0.

Still down a player, the Colombians struggled to muster a response until late in the match, but Hope was tested in the closing stages and stopped shots by Diana Ospina and Catalina Usme over a two-minute span. One of those tries was a long shot sent toward the upper corner of the net, but Hope leapt up and snared the attempt to thwart Colombia’s last opportunity to score.

The match wasn’t quite the 5-0 blowout that it could’ve been, but the USWNT moved on nonetheless, and Ellis exited the contest pleased with her squad’s progress—as well as the result.

“I’m really happy with the win. I’ll take 2-nil any day in the game,” Ellis said. “We’re obviously pleased to be moving on. This is the World Cup. I’m really satisfied with advancing. It’s about finding a way. I’m pleased with where we are.”

NEXT UP

Hope and the USWNT will have a few days to travel and prepare for their quarterfinal match before they take the pitch in Ottawa on Friday evening against China. In that quarterfinal contest, the U.S. defense will look to continue their shutout streak; it has been 333 straight minutes since the Americans have allowed a goal.

The Chinese team, also known for its stout defense, edged Cameroon 1-0 on Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals. China was the No. 2 team out of Group A behind tournament host, Canada. In group play, China dropped their opening match 1-0 to Canada, then played to a 2-2 draw with New Zealand, but finished with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands to end up with an even 3-3 goal differential and move on to the tournament stage, where they upended Cameroon.

That sets up a match between China and the U.S. for the first time in Women’s World Cup play since the 1999 World Cup Final, which the teams played to a 0-0 draw before Team USA won the match, and the World Cup in PKs.

Kickoff from Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa is set for 7:30 p.m. ET Friday night, and the match will air on FOX.

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