USA 2-2 Colombia: USWNT top Group G despite sharing the spoils in an entertaining draw

A brace of free-kicks from Colombian striker Catalina Usme prevents the US from taking all out victories going into the quarter finals.

USA 2-2 Colombia: USWNT top Group G despite sharing the spoils in an entertaining draw
Catalina Usme opens the scoring for Colombia | Photo: Getty Images
2 2
USA: Solo; Krieger, Sauerbrunn, Engen, O'Hara; Brian, Horan, Lloyd (C); Rapinoe, Press, Dunn
Colombia: Sepulveda, Carolina Arias, Nataly Arias, Ariza, Clavijo, Salazar, Santos, Usme, Velasquez, Gaitan, Andrade
SCORE: 0-1, min. 26, Usme. 1-1, min. 42, Dunn. 2-1, min. 59, Pugh. 1-2, min. 90, Usme.
REFEREE: Referee: Teodora Albon (Romania) Booked: Krieger (85), Salazar (72).

With their place in the quarter finals already secured the United States were looking to set a precedent for the knockout stages of the tournament and a win or draw this evening would have seen them top Group G. However, it wasn't plain sailing for the World champions; Jill Ellis' side faced an early scare after Hope Solo's blunder cost them the opening goal.

And her side thought they were on the cusp of victory after Washington Spirit striker Crystal Dunn cancelled out Catalina Usme's opener to save Solo's blushes in the first half. Following Dunn's equaliser, young starlet Mallory Pugh struck after the break to send her team in to the lead.

But, Usme once again had other ideas and equalised for Colombia with a spectular free-kick deep into injury time.

A moment to forget for the American number one

The United States dominated possession for the majority of the opening stages, but it was Colombia who broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 26th minute. Megan Rapinoe's foul on Salazar 20-yards out from goal gave the South Americans their first chance of the game and they capitalised on the opportunity. A major blunder from Hope Solo saw them take the lead from the subsequent free-kick, after Usme's shot went straight through the legs of the US keeper.

The World champions were yet to concede a goal in this tournament prior to Usme's opener and normal service resumed just before the break. Crystal Dunn, last season's NWSL Most Valuable Player, reacted quickest to slot home home the rebound after Carli Lloyd's effort ricocheted against the woodwork.

Crystal Dunn is put under pressure from a Colombian defender | Photo: US Soccer
Crystal Dunn is put under pressure by a Colombian defender | Photo: US Soccer

Ellis rings the changes

As expected Jill Ellis made a number of changes off the back of her side's 1-0 victory over France, with many players rested to safeguard them going into the vital stages of the tournament. Ellis made four changes to the starting XI, with Ali Krieger coming in for Meghan Klingenberg, Christen Press for Alex Morgan and Lindsay Horan was preferred to Allie Long.

A key change for the USWNT saw the return of Megan Rapinoe. The Seattle Reign midfielder returned for the first time in 249 days, since tearing her ACL in a national team training session in Hawaii in December of last year.

Not surprisingly, due to precaution Rapinoe was given thirty minutes of match action and it was the midfielders replacement Mallory Pugh who gave the US the lead in the 59th minute.

Pugh, became the youngest American soccer player to score in the Olympic Games, the 18-year-old fired a shot past a posse of Colombian defenders on the line to give her team the lead.

The Olympic debutant, who is the second youngest USWNT player in history to compete at the Games, nearly netted her second of the game in the latter stages of the match, but was called offside by the official on the far side.

The Americans thought they had the victory sealed going into the closing minutes until Usme netted her second in the 90th minute, stricking a spectular free-kick in to the inside of the far post to shock the gold medal favourites.

This famous victory for the Colombians will be something to savour for the South Americans as they have now been eliminated from the tournament.

Before the match a win or a tie would see the Americans top Group G and following tonight's 2-2 draw, Jill Ellis' side will now face the third place team from Group E or F going into the quarter finals.