Olympic Rewind: What we learned from USWNT draw vs. Colombia

dunn goal

By TOM SLATER

It’s OK to breathe now. The United States Women’s Team is still advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. They still won Group G without losing a game.

They just haven’t been convincing in doing so.

Tuesday evening’s 2-2 draw with Colombia certainly wasn’t what anyone was expecting. Colombia had been down and out coming into the match. Without a win, without a goal. But they were gritty against a United States team that really had nothing to play for — except not losing. Catalina Umes had the game of her life – with a little help from Hope Solo. They danced themselves off the field, congratulating each other, ending their Rio experience on a high note.

The United States came out very strong and had a couple of dangerous chances early before Usme scored the game’s first goal midway through the first half. Her free kick just outside the area was hit hard but at Solo. The veteran goalkeeper couldn’t handle it, though, and Colombia was up, 1-0.

Crystal Dunn tied the match in the 41st minute, putting a way a ball started by Carli Lloyd on the right wing. Lloyd played a shot off the crossbar and Dunn directed it in for her first Olympic goal.

Mallory Pugh, coming off the bench for Megan Rapinoe, put the United States up, 2-1, with a nice piece of work started by Dunn on the left wing. Pugh collected a deflection of Dunn’s serve and maneuvered inside before left-footing a shot.

That set up Umes’ last-minute heroics. Her bad-angle goal brought Colombia level and the Americans were forced to hold on for the draw.

But what does it mean for the Americans?

Here’s what we learned from the 2-2 draw:

Even Hope has a bad night:  She may have been the GOAT against France but she was almost the goat against Colombia. Solo, who is usually as solid as they come, doesn’t let in howlers like the one she let slip in off the foot of Catalina Usme in the 26th minute. The ball didn’t seem to be a difficult save but it seemed to handcuff Solo at the last minute and she fumbled it off her knee and through her legs. The second goal was more of Usme’s ability than anything Solo did incorrectly. Yes, it was a terrible angle goal; yes, she took a circuitous route to it. But give Usme the credit here. After the game, Solo did say she was going to shake this one off.  She doesn’t make these mistakes often; she’s still the world’s best goalkeeper. Both bode well for the rest of the tournament for the Americans.

Rapinoe looked fit: She only played a bit more than a half-hour but Megan Rapinoe came out of the match — her first since October of 2015 — unscathed. She even did a few positive things. Her touch seemed there and she served a couple of balls that became dangerous opportunities that just didn’t translate into goals. Any second thoughts that the outside midfielder might not be ready certainly couldn’t be based on anything that happened in Manaus Tuesday evening. Tuck this one away: Rapinoe might yet be the difference-maker Jill Ellis hoped she would be.

Let’s not go crazy: The idea was to get win the group and get the easy bracket. The United States did what it needed to do to finish on top of the Group G table. Even if it didn’t look smooth. The fact is the United States outshot Colombia 16-3. Umes had all three shots (two goals and a crossbar). The Americans had their chances and if any of them had gone in early, they would have been off to the races. Give credit to Colombia for not mailing it in. Umes’ early goal energized them and the United States’ failure to put them away gave them life for her second free kick. The United States did get to rest Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg and Tobin Heath, making them fresh for the next round. The United States has not played its best game of the Olympics yet. Which doesn’t bode well for everyone else.

The quarterfinal matchups:

USA v Sweden, 12 pm EDT

China v Germany, 3 pm EDT

Canada v France, 6 pm EDT

Brazil vs Australia, 9 pm EDT